I have a tendency to oversimplify things sometimes. I really do think it's worth it in the long run though. For example, we only have two rules in our home: Love the LORD with all your heart, soul, mind & strength and Love your neighbor as yourself.
"And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:28-31
- Reading - They must learn to read but I consider what they read to be very important. As a matter of a fact, this is an area I value quality over quantity. We mostly read for information; Bible, History & Science. In the process, I usually pick out words and passages from what we are reading to instill penmanship, vocabulary, and spelling.
- Math - I spend a LOT of time on the basics and making sure they can apply them to every possible area of life.
- Character Development - In the beginning, the success of all other subjects depends on the children learning Obedience and Attentiveness. As they grow, Character development is pretty much where every other subject goes. Home Economics and Agriculture teach Responsibility and Initiative. Forgien Language (including Sign Language) teaches Determination. Learning Self Control, Orderliness, and Punctuality help the children become more Creative, Resourceful, & Diligent. Learning Flexibility and Discretion help balance these qualities with Joyfulness and Gratefulness. In the end, you proudly watch a young man or woman graduate with Wisdom & Integrity.
Like I said, maybe I'm oversimplifying again, but isn't it really that simple? Reading, Writing & Arithmetic balanced with good ol' courtesy & common sense. Isn't that what we're missing? We're focusing on making sure the children have 7-8 subjects plus activities and then we lose the whole reason and goal of it all. Let's take a step back, breathe and yes, simplify.
The best way to instill good Character qualities is to be consistent. It's so much easier to be consistent and create a truly stable environment in this totally unstable world if we keep things simple and concentrate on what's really important. Making Character one of the most important parts of our educational plan will also help nurture healthy relationships. No matter what our children do or don't do academically, good Biblical Character will insure success in life.
My favorite resources for teaching Character is fromIBLP. They are WONDERFUL products, well worth the investment.