HOW TO INTEGRATE SUBJECTS
We have had WONDERFUL success picking a subject for the year and bringing the other subjects into that one. Our first year we we tried to "keep up with the schools" with each child on different levels... talk about a "train wreck!!" But from our second year on, we've had nothing but success. Here is what we did...
We picked one subject as the main theme for the year (like History) for ALL of us to study together! Then we brought the other subjects into that one that we chose for the year. (i.e. art, history, language, math, music, science, etc.) Because math and reading were so important to me, as a mom, I made sure they were doing math, reading, and writing reports on their own level, besides the math and language concepts we brought into our joint learning.
We first did this with a group of families, which was a blast. Then we moved! However, we continued this same concept on our own... It still worked beautifully!
We started with History as our theme for several years (which was a GREAT start, because then we had a time-line on which to put EVERYTHING ELSE we learned. After a while, we got tired of History being the focus, so we moved on to Science as the focus for the year (or two, or three), then we chose Music, then Art, and so on. You get the idea...
The kids just took off! Loving what we had done for so many years, they began studying whatever subjects they wanted to on their own. When they shared with the others what they were doing, sometimes the others would join in; sometimes they wouldn't. It was a blast, whatever they did!
STEPS TO INTEGRATING SUBJECTS
STEP 1 -
SUBJECT - Choose the subject you want your upcoming week, month or year to be based around.
We chose a subject for the year, knowing if it didn't work, we could always change and go month to month, etc. (Hint: When the children got older [8+] I let them choose the subject they wanted our year to be based around. I let them help choose and plan as much as I could. (Example: we have three complete programs that integrate the other subjects. See: Reading, Music (and Music Theory) and the Constitution. Or click on the subjects above to see each of those examples.)
STEP 2 -
STEP 3 -
STEP 4 -
STEP 5 -
PRINCIPLES - Pick the main principles or concepts you want to discover and learn about in that subject. (To see examples of "The Principle Approach", see "Math" to see how the Lord testified of the atonement through a single math problem for us; and/or Science" to see what the Scientific Method truly testifies of! It is absolutely awe inspiring.)
THESAURUS - Another approach we took was to look up key words of our chosen subject in the thesaurus. This helped us see a bigger picture. When reading through the different key words, something usually stuck out that our family should emphasize. (For an example of how to use the Thesaurus approach, see "Art". NOTE: As there is more than one edition of the thesaurus, each thesaurus will probably have different words, so you're welcome to use more than one to get a bigger vision, but you don't have to. We used both our book and this thesaurus online.)
PONDER / BRAINSTORM / PRAY - Ponder, brainstorm with others, and pray for different ideas: books, projects, activities, field trips, etc. that can be used for the subject for the year, the principles/concepts in that subject, and ways to relate to or bring in the other subjects. ("Parts of Speech" and the thesaurus words might also help in seeing relationships to other subjects. Click to download our color-coded "Example of Thesaurus words for ART")
ENJOY! Have fun! Remember to play lots of GAMES! Enjoy the year you've planned and watch the ideas continually expand in and out of each other. It's that easy! (Hint: If you come up with other subjects or things of interest while you are learning, it's okay to branch out and discover those new things and see where they lead. You always have your "plan" for the year to come back to if or when the desire to continue stops. Simply return to where you left off in your plan and continue from there.)
Remember: If you find yourself discouraged or frustrated (especially if you're homeschooling and you're feeling down) - feel free to contact us. We have tons of resources and ideas. We'd be happy to brainstorm with you!
What about HIGH SCHOOL / COLLEGE?
When it came time for High School and preparing for College, the children had the choice of how they wanted to proceed. (There are so many options: Public School, Online Schools, taking the G.E.D. and moving on from there, etc.) Bry had several friends at our local High School, so he joined them. However, at one point, he needed a credit in Psychology, so he just took that class on-line at American School. Steve, Josh and Jaclyn took some classes at the local High School (so they went part time for Drivers Ed., Seminary, and whatever classes they wanted), but then transferred the credits that applied for graduation to an accredited Online High School (also American School) where they chose to graduate from. Bry and Steve then went on to BYU, Josh attended UVU and a local MATC, and Jaclyn (now 16) is close to graduating High School.