Monday, August 8, 2016
A Bit of Our Homeschool History
Our homeschooling history is pretty simple. Growing up my husband and I had very different public school experiences. He struggled to fit into the sit down-listen-write-move on model and I spent my days bored because school was too easy. As a teen I got to know a family that homeschooled their sons. I loved the idea and filed it away to explore for my future children.
Partway through my pregnancy with my first child I was put on bedrest. I read the books on my shelves, read books suggested to me by friends thanks to my library (this was my first introduction to Agatha Christie), and then I started reading about homeschooling. I liked the idea of being involved in my children's education, of the freedom to learn about things at their pace, and the fact that young children would not be spending the equivalent of a full time job (35-40 hours) away at school every week. My husband and I did what we always do - we prayed about it. The confirmation came that this was a good path for our family and the rest is history.
A couple years later that baby became my first little preschooler and we did fun unit studies based around a letter sound each week. We played, we read books, we got out in the community, and we learned together. More babies and children followed. After several years of unit studies I began to learn more about the Charlotte Mason method of education and we began a subtle shift toward those methods.
A brief explanation of the CM method is that you feed the child's mind on living ideas found in books and day to day living. Lessons begin short and a child learns to give them their full attention. These gradually lengthen as the child's attention and focus naturally increase with age and practice. Children narrate, or tell back, the things they read. As they grow this narrating begins to include their own thoughts and analysis of what they've read. A wide feast of ideas is spread before a child from the beginning including literature, history, art, music, hymns, poetry, nature, math, handicrafts, and more. This wide feast is kept up through the high school years - instead of narrowing the focus on core subjects a teen continues to form relationships with a wide range of ideas in a deeper way.
As my family has grown in size I have found that routines and independence are keys to a year full of learning. With routines built our family has a smooth track to run on, doing each task in a regular, consistent way. If it is morning my children know to eat, dress, and prepare for the day. Group work happens first before we branch off into individual studies. Individual studies is where the independence comes in. Each child is carefully guided to do some of their subjects on their own, from an assignment sheet, acting as their own taskmaster.
For example, they know that each day they need to read a chapter in their current assigned literature and a chapter in the scriptures. If they are learning to type they know to set a timer and practice until it rings. When they are too young to read on their own they know to bring a scripture reader to mom or dad each day to read aloud.
When they reach middle school they can work on the stages of a writing project by referring to their assignment sheet, coming to me when they need to bounce ideas around or are looking for an editor. By high school they are able to work through a text independently, seeking help as needed. They are part of the decision making process each year at this age when selecting curricula and classes. They are also introduced to an online class or two around this age each year in subjects of interest.
That's our homeschool history in a nutshell!