Seasoned only to the two-year mark, I realize I have a lot to learn about teaching my children. First of all, I have only taught one at home consistently. We decided to put all three of our kids in the local preschool for the first three years of their lives, for various reasons. I think it has allowed me that special one-on-one time with my oldest for so long! I also love our preschool. It is precious. The ladies over there are phenomenal. It is not a grinding preschool, as “kindergarten readiness” is not the number one priority. Loving our children clearly is. They play like it’s their job! They chase friends on the playground, sing songs together, have class jobs and celebrate the holidays and birthdays. The kids have formed friendships, have learned how to deal with feeling rejected and sad at times. We have been there to guide them through these feelings, and in the end, they have seen that situations change so quickly! Nonetheless, family will always be there (and you might be able to foster life-long friendships, if you are given that chance). Our second child, a daughter, will join our homeschool this August. Some tidbits of wisdom I take into our third homeschool year, as school relates to our family. I am sure I will tweak the list and add a lot of new wisdom as time marches on. The wisdom tidbits are, for our family, these past 2 years (*):
- We effectively learn to read using an Orton-Gillingham Multi-Sensory approach.
- With scheduling, we allow buffer time each day, because unforeseen interruptions and necessary distractions will arise.
- With a boy, less is more. I should not push him to the point of frustration. I just simply close the lesson and commit to finishing it later (usually the next day).
- Nature journaling happens organically. If he is really excited about finding a robin’s egg in a nest, that is our nature study for the next few weeks. Sometimes, all it takes is to step outside and take in the sights and sounds. How many different sounds does your ear analyze? Which friend in nature might we develop a relationship with as we study him/her/it over the course of time?
- Read-aloud time is always scheduled into our week.
- Synthesize first, analyze later. When learning to appreciate the good, true and beautiful, one must form a relationship with what he is studying. The synthesis happens on the front-end so he can appreciate and truly know his subject in its whole form.
- To set a feast of food for thought before our children, I use the morning time paradigm, and aim at enjoying it.
- Humility as it relates to education is the acknowledgment that one does not know it all, and will never know it all. “I want to know, but I do not yet know” is our mantra. If we come to a point where we believe we have arrived intellectually, then we are not teachable. Humility is a basic tenant of the classical tradition.
- Reevaluating a curriculum or method mid-year is permissible, if not encouraged. If a curriculum is not working for him, why keep at it? Move on to something better. Curriculums should never master us, after all!
- Unit studies that weave in Bible with other subjects (history, geography, science, art, poetry, song) help illuminate the true, good and beautiful, with minimal work from Mommy.
- I learn from other homeschooling families. I learn from books and podcasts. I look around on the web to find a good homeschool blogsite. I attend one retreat a year to be around likeminded homeschooling moms and the philosophies that bind us together.
- We need our community. Our local church body is our community. Our Classical Conversations group is our secondary community. Our nature study group is our secondary community. A chance (or really, providential) meeting at the park produced some of our closest friendships in our town.
*A list is an oversimplification of what someone is trying to convey. Nonetheless, this ever-evolving list is helpful for me to see what we emphasize in our schoolhouse.
Do any one or more of these items on the list resonate with anyone? Please let me know your own thoughts and experiences. Wisdom breeds wisdom.