How we (kinda) homeschool

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I’ll write another post later about my reasons for homeschooling.  For now, I just want to show what materials we’re currently using and share my thoughts on them.

When I began investigating homeschooling, I was immediately bombarded with information.  I hadn’t realized that there were so many different ways to teach from home!  It’s actually mind-boggling.  Intrepid as always;), I waded through the various approaches until I found Classical Education & Charlotte Mason.  In my research, I found aspects of each that I strongly agreed with.  Classical Education (as presented by Wise & Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind), had an emphasis on chronological history, repetition, grammar, logic & rhetoric, and classical languages.  I found their suggestions on structuring a curriculum quite appealing.  I will admit I have not delved as deep into Charlotte Mason as I would like to.  However, I agree with what I have learned of her emphasis on copywork, living books, and art.  She seems to bring a gentler approach to schooling, while still requiring consistent effort by the child.  Since Laura is only in kindergarten, I am still developing my own approach to our homeschool.  I hope to be able to incorporate these styles into it.

Well, that’s theory.  So how do we practice all these nice ideas?  I’ll break it down by subject:

Math:  Having had a wonderful experience and gained a lifelong love for Saxon Math, there was never a question of how I was teaching math.  Saxon’s strength is constant repetition of ideas.  Concepts are learned alongside solid review of previous concepts.  No concept is learned in void.  Laura loves the worksheet aspect and the hands-on approach.  We’re currently using Saxon Math 1, which my mother graciously donated to the cause.  Thanks mom!

Science:  Since Laura is only five, we are not doing any specific science curriculum.  However, as evidenced by her Princess Scientist 4th birthday party, she is very interested in that subject.  We do experiments when we can, and borrow backpacks on science from our library.  She has one right now that has slides and a kid microscope.  She’s just dying to get a real one.  She’s also very interested in anatomy and we might get her an anatomy coloring book from the college (yes, that really exists).  Mostly, we talk about things as she thinks up questions.  Using this method, she ends up with a very eclectic knowledge of the world. Which is just fine for this age.  And fun!

Reading & Writing:  This is the one subject I was the most excited about.  I wanted to see that glow on Laura’s face when she discovered how to read and that she could do it herself.  Although Saxon is working out wonderfully, another throwback to my past didn’t.  At our local thrift store, I had been lucky enough to find an entire set of the reading program my mother had used with my brothers & I.  Remarkably, it was an entire, new-in-box set for a tenth of the price (as it is entirely out of print)!  I was so excited to use it, only to discover it was not working for us.  I think it’s a combination of an ADD mother and a possibly ADD daughter.  There were too many distracting crafts and activities and we were progressing too slowly through the letters for her to make connections between them.  Finally, with a heavy heart, I admitted defeat.  I packed up the pretty box of stuff (except for the activity and coloring pages) and ordered The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by the same Bauer listed above.  Its bare-bone approach has allowed us to work through the alphabet with maximum retention and an understanding of vowels and consonants as distinct groups.  Since there’s little extra projects, it fits into our busy lifestyle quite well.  Hopefully, we’ll be reading soon.

History:  We’re using The Story of the World right now, but I’m fairly lukewarm about it.  While I enjoy the story-telling style Bauer takes (yes, the same one as above), I feel that some of the stories are too watered-down.  Also, to me, the approach to bible stories is slightly off.  I love the idea of including Bible stories in a history curriculum, but I find that I have to go through the stories first and bring them closer to what’s in the Bible.  Not that they’re way off, it’s mostly a matter of terminology and, again, being watered-down.  This series comes in four parts and covers ancient to modern history.  I will probably use these through 3rd or 4th grade, but they’re just not in-depth enough to use after that.  Since the Classical Education approach suggests repeating all of history every four years, going deeper every time, I’m okay with the basic knowledge in The Story of the World for now. We are using the ancient history one right now and Laura loves the story of Romulus & Remus.  Ah, the apple never falls far from the tree…

An addendum:  I am immensely more pleased with the Story of the World Activity Books.  We have the activity book for ancient times and, although many of the activities are too old for Laura and require reading abilities, that means we’ll be able to use it next year.  One activity calls for mummifying a chicken!  How cool is that?  I’m saving that one for this coming year or the next.  But I have already made use of the various coloring pages.

Wow, it sounds like we’re so organized and stuff!

The reality:  not so much.  Hence, the ‘kinda’ in the title.

I am finding that it is very hard to be consistent when our schedule changes every 4 months with my husband’s and my own college classes.  Furthermore, I have ADD, fibromyalgia, and a herniated disc in my back.  I’m lucky if we get any schoolwork done in an entire week!  Since we have these obstacles, and since Laura is not even considered kindergarten-age by our school district, I am working very hard to not feel guilty about our slow pace.  Also, as I said, we do a fair amount of unofficial learning because Laura asks a LOT of questions.  However, this fall I will have to make a greater effort to schedule our schooling.  I’m crossing my fingers, ands I know Laura has enough drive to get us through.

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