Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Homeschooling :: Beginnings

I have often toyed with the idea of writing about homeschooling. After all, it takes up a huge amount of my time and my thoughts and has become a formative piece of my life. But I never really felt like I had anything to share. There are so many others who have already discussed homeschooling in ways that capture the essence of what we strive for more perfectly than I could ever hope to.

However, I was recently reminded by my sister-in-law that even though there's nothing that hasn't been said before, no one has heard it from me yet. So I am setting out to write about homeschooling as it exists in our home. There will more than likely be quite a few posts, since I've found, after thinking about it, that I actually do have a lot I'd like to share. I do not offer these posts as advice, nor do I pretend to know what I'm doing (this is definitely a learn-as-you-go sort of project!). I am just sharing our journey.

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In the beginning, when my eldest child was only a baby, I had a dear friend who was studying to become a teacher in a Montessori school. She was passionate about Montessori philosophy and gave me a few books to read on the topic. I read them eagerly and was amazed to discover that very young children are, in fact, capable of much more than I had ever thought to give them credit for. I thought about trying to send my son to a Montessori school, but it turned out not to even be an option, so my next idea was to keep him at home. At least at home I could try my best to provide a Montessori-like environment and I would end up with a kid who was able to develop in the way that was most appropriate for him and which would allow him to flourish. (At least, that's what I told myself. The fact was I was very eager to show the world how smart my kid was and since Montessori methods promised good results, and since all the homeschoolers I knew were very smart, I decided I wanted that).

So I began to research homeschooling. I went to the library and checked out every single book I could find on the topic. The book I remember most clearly, and which started me down the path I'm on, was Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I read it cover to cover and took the quiz about my preferred educational style. The results said that Classical and Charlotte Mason were most in line with what I wanted. I had never heard of either one. So I wrote down the books recommended for more information on those two methods and went back to the library.

I read The Well-Trained Mind by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer first (which book henceforth will be referred to as WTM). And I loved it. Here was everything I needed all laid out nice and neat and furthermore it would produce really smart kids (by this time I had had another baby). I also read Charlotte Mason's Home Education  and liked it very much, but at the time it was sort of overshadowed by WTM so I don't really remember much of my first impression.

I'm not sure I can lay out the next series of events in a logical sequence. I had another baby and was testing the waters with the beginnings of pre-school activities (I'll talk about what we did for pre-K for another post most likely). During this time I joined the WTM forums and I gleaned an unbelievable amount of information there. I became familiar with all sorts of different curricula and really just had a blast reading about the experiences of other homeschoolers as they puzzled out curriculum choices and shared their opinions about various programs and ideas being tried in their own families.

It was there, at the WTM forums, that the path twisted in a way that I would never have anticipated. By this time I was pregnant with my fourth baby. And one day, while browsing the forum, I stumbled across a thread begun by someone whose username I recognized because I'd bought some books from her via the Orthodox Christian Classical HSers yahoo group. So I opened the thread and I'm not being overly dramatic when I say that one click of the mouse changed the course of my life.

The title of the thread was totally meaningless to me because it mentioned the CiRCE institute, which I had never even heard of. There was talk about how one can provide an education along the lines of what Andrew Kern speaks about. Here was something else I was clueless about - who on earth was Andrew Kern? Someone shared a link to one of his talks, titled Analytical Learning, and my mind was blown.

Blown away. At one point while I was listening I cried. I cried because he was talking about what, deep down, was the ONLY thing I really wanted for my children: to hear the words "Well done" spoken to my own children at the final judgement. And I realized that if that's what I wanted, then I needed to assess every. single. thing I did from there on out in the light of that goal. My guiding question became "Does [whatever I'm currently doing] bring me closer to my goal or does it move me away from it?"


(I'll talk more about where this question has taken us in upcoming posts. I can't promise that these posts will be regular or frequent, but I will do what I can.)


6 comments:

  1. you've made a fine beginning! i'm eager to hear more.

    peace keep you.

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    1. Thank you! I'm having fun thinking about what I'm going to say. :)

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  2. I feel like I could have written this- got interested in Montessori...decided to homeschool...took Cathy Duffys quiz and got classical/CM...read TWTM and CM, loved both but mostly TWTM stood out...clicked on that same thread!!! And mind explosion! Only I only have three babies :)

    And I have o admit the further I get into this, the more Mason makes sense. I'm re-reading the series this summer, and wow. Looking forward to your series!

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    1. Yes, CM is resonating with me more and more as well. She really knew what she was about!
      Very cool that our journeys have been so similar!

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  3. This post is the beginning of my story since you are the one who got me interested in all this! Look forward to learning even more from you! :)

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  4. I'm glad you're going to do this, and that you have started with a good, short teaser of an article so I could read it tonight before bed. :-) Will be looking for the next installment!

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I really enjoy feedback and discussion, so please don't hesitate to comment!