Trying to type a new blog post while cleaning up my “blog debris” post-upgrade is like deciding to dust and rearrange the family room furniture while setting out the gallons of new paint. (Yes, I’ve been there, too). I’ve spent much of the morning re-categorizing posts that got lumped into my miscellaneous file, “the Candy Jar,” while trying to pen my more recent thoughts. All of the cleanout, re-arranging, and posting, led to a new page documenting our tentative schedule for the coming year. I also have a page coming regarding curriculum soon.
It was these planners that I’ve used for the last couple of years that got me started in this vein. Don’t they just beg you to write something down :-)?
(I must figure out what is this hairline on my MP-4 player’s camera lens that won’t go away!)
The other catalyst to begin laying out next school year was a re-read of one of my homeschooling bibles, Wise and Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind. Outside of the Bible, I have several books that I consider my own God-sends in terms of how we approach home education. Of course, TWTM is listed above. Here are others:
Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCauley
Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by the Clarksons
No matter where I am on this journey, the words never get old, and without fail, something leaps off the page with every read.
Interestingly enough this time, while reading Bauer’s work, I had an epiphany about seasons of a homeschooling parent and why different information leaps on the page. I was intrigued as I opened this book and saw my original highlighting, turned down pages, and underlining. Why did I write this? What was so important about that passage? And then I remembered where I was the first time I read it, and I began to laugh—almost out loud. You see, the first time I read this, I was intrigued by the classical method after feeling as if Charlotte Mason’s approach was not enough (can you imagine?) to prepare the kids for further studies. I had not even homeschooled one year. I felt as if I’d set the kids off on the wrong path, and I was in a rush to correct my error. I needed more structure than I felt I had, and if there’s one thing that TWTM is full of, it’s structure—3 hrs./ week to do this, 5 hrs./ week to do that, and on and on. So I highlighted times, hours, schedules, what books to buy, and tons of other details. Thank God I didn’t actually get to inflict all of this onto the kids (with all due apologies to TWTM purists)—I think this would have been the point of mutiny aboard our ship! I found myself overwhelmed to the point of paralysis; apparently others experienced the same, prompting the writing of The Well Educated Mind. (Though I’ve not read it, my understanding is that the latter is written after the realization that the original work is quite intimidating). But again, because of where I was when I read it, I did what was appropriate for me at the time.
With seven years under my belt, I’m still learning, but I’m also much more confident about what works for our home and our school. I’m also a Charlotte Mason enthusiast, though not a purist. Hmmm…that’s worth a minute of my time. I had yet another epiphany during our long journey home from the not-so-wild west on this past weekend. It takes time for us to grow into our own homeschooling skin. After years of angst and frustration, commitment and recommitment, I am finally at peace with the facts that…
I consider ours a Charlotte Mason-styled homeschool, but (gasp!) I use a textbook or two.
I follow a classical schedule, but I am also free of the guilt that the kids don’t memorize anywhere near close to what a classical purist would suggest.
I have yet to teach art or poetry with any sense of assurance or confidence.
(I’d list more, but with several starts and stops, I’ve been writing this post for a number of hours, and it’s time to move on to other things).
So this time when I read The Well-Trained Mind, I reminisced over where I was on the first reading. I wasn’t focused on the schedules, the exact books, or the nth level of detail. I found myself focusing instead on the highlights of Ms. Wise’s approach—the way that she educated before she had heard of the term ‘trivium.’ In looking at the cornerstones of how she approached learning—without the technical terms, without the research, but just teaching as she was taught by her “Meme and Uncle Luther,” I saw places where I “got it”:
We teach phonics. And Latin grammar. And critical thinking skills.
We memorize—some (scriptures, multiplication tables, American presidents).
We read. And we read. And we read.
We write. (And we write. And…)
We talk. (And…)
There are more specifics that make me feel very good about the kid’s progress. But, ultimately, I’m at peace with who we are, who we’re not, and that no homeschooling policeman will come and declare them uneducated. Silly of me to ever have thought otherwise.