My answer is with the exception of math, yes you can use The Thinking Tree’s journals for all subjects. I am with Brent, Ethan, Lance, (8th, 7th, 5th grades). They are my full-timers (wink).
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I wrote a review about the journals but today I wanted to write a bit about how to use them as your main program.
First, have your children choose a variety of books not just all one topic. Have them choose a at least 1 science book & 1 history book - two would be better (I think), then the rest can be of their choosing, so that would be 4 book for ‘school’ and 4 pleasure books.
The Reading Time pages has the child read a book for 15 minutes then in one of the boxes they need to write something about it.
You can have them only write key words or draw a picture - to summarizing what they read or just have them write words they liked or draw a picture(for a child who finds writing difficult like Lance).
And depending on the age of the child have them write complete sentences. You can have your child write something about the main character or topic maybe you have some questions written on the whiteboard for him/her to answer and include in his writing.
How to use The Thinking Tree Journals at grade level: All you have to do is have your child use books at his grade level or reading level. I’m having my kids use books that they can read without too much difficulty. What’s neat about the journals is they meet your child where they are at.
Screen Time Pages can be used for a subject as well. What I do is allow my kiddos to pick something twice a week and I pick something 3 times a week. For instance today is my pick and I want them to cover science so they’ll be watching Netflix: Honey Badgers – Masters of Mayhem (and they really are too!).
At our house:
Lance is using the Hyper-Active Homeschool Journal. The Reading Time in his journal says, “Copy important words or pictures from each book”. This is all Lance has to do. If he was older and didn’t struggle with writing (right now he’s working through Dyslexia Games so we are keeping everything else pretty simple) I’d have him write more.
Ethan (7th) & Brent (8th) are using the Do-it-Yourself Homeschool Journal for Eclectic Learners. The Reading Time says the same as Lance but I’m requiring that both boys write a few sentences.
Now 10 pages may not sound like much but it does take about 4 hours to complete those 10 pages. At our house the boys complete 10 pages from their journals and math. Brent my 8th grader will soon add in Latin & Math.
When counting the 10 pages I don’t count the Circle Today’s Date page as one of them. I also don’t count How are you feeling today? page. So technically they might be completing 10-12 pages.
Right now with my boys I am mostly letting them choose whatever books they want as long as they choose a variety. Otherwise they’d all choose Star Wars or silly books.
We are on our 4th week with using the journals. Next week the boys will have to find 2 books science related and 2 books history related.
May I suggest that when you first start using the journals keep it fun. Meaning let your child go crazy with choosing their own books. After a week or so start requiring them to find a few science and history related books.
The journals were originally created so Sarah could enjoy her newborn without having to worry about teaching. What a great idea to give mom some time off and yet the kiddos are still getting school done.
Using The Thinking Tree at Homeschooling6:
With Lance, right now my goal is to get him reading fluently and improve his writing. He writes big and has a hard time writing on the lines. He also has a hard time forming some of his letter and reverses the b, d, p, # 9, etc.
My main goal is to get him through Dyslexia Games Series B & C. If it were up to me I’d only have him complete Dyslexia Games right now. Sarah suggest to put school aside during the 3 months it typically takes to complete one of the Dyslexia Games Series.
She recommends this so the child isn’t stressed or overwhelmed with regular schoolwork (perfect for winter or summer break). But my husband wants Lance to continue with school so we are using the journals.
In a few weeks Lance will either switch to or add Teach Your Child to Read, Write, & Spell: 100 Easy Bible Verses. I haven’t received the book yet to decide. Teach Your Child looks to be a gentle way with teaching these subjects and I think will go perfectly with using Dyslexia Games.
With Ethan, my main goal is to improve his reading so he too is using Dyslexia Games along with his journal.
Brent, he reverses numbers and letter so we want to correct that using Dyslexia Games. Improving his reading is another goal. So Brent to is using DG & journal. To help him improve his reading he will soon start using Bible Study Guide and Prayer Journal which uses the Open Dyslexia Font and uses ESV (perfect!)
Those are my 3 full time users using Sarah’s journals.
I also have a part time user, Caleb. He uses his journal twice a week. I’d like to have him using it only but because he’ll be starting his official high school year in January I want him to complete his formal writing program. He too is using Dyslexia Games to help improve his reading and will soon start Spelling Time-Master the Top 150 Misspelled Words.
Dyslexia Games Series C – Book 7 also includes Word Hunts a fun way to learn to spell which Caleb will complete also.
Flexibility with using The Thinking Tree Journals: What’s really great is the flexibility of using the journals. As mentioned Sarah created the journals for her own children so she could enjoy and recover from the birth of her 10th child.
You don’t have to have your child complete 10 pages a day. Let’s say you have subject that you really don’t want to give up right now but want to use one of The Thinking Tree journals. Super easy solution. Have your child complete less pages a day and continue with the subject(s).
Or use the journals part-time, during a move, or if y’all just need a break from regular schoolwork.
Before using the journals I had already purchased our homeschool books, so stay tuned to see how we will use The Thinking Tree Journals to fit those books in.