Micaela over at California to Korea is just full of fun link-ups these days! Right now she’s got a series on homeschooling up over the next few weeks, and I’m going to join in to get into the swing of the new school year. Let’s start with the why and how of our family’s homeschool.
Back when Nathaniel and I were dating, we knew a really happy family who homeschooled their five kids and made it look fun. Their kids seemed to truly enjoy learning and spending time together, and their home was full of books. Then, although neither of us had studied education, we both got jobs as teachers and learned by experience that, in most cases, the home environment is what makes or breaks a child’s education, no matter how good (or bad) their school is.
When our oldest child was 2 years old, the mom in that homeschooling family we admired showed us the book The Well-Trained Mind, saying it was the guide she wished she’d had starting out. This book convinced me that we could give our kids a really academically excellent education at home. Although we don’t follow the curriculum laid out in that book, we do try to follow the stages of learning described in that and other books about “classical” education:
Primary (preschool/ kindergarten): learn that letters and numbers are symbols, learn fairy tales & nursery rhymes
Grammar (elementary school): learn the structural foundation of each subject–math facts, phonics rules, penmanship, sentence structure, classic stories, history dates and places, names of plants, animals, stars, etc., and master the ability to orally summarize what you read
Logic (middle school): learn the “logic” behind each subject–move from arithmetic into mathematics, explore the “whys” of history and literature, begin experimental science
Rhetoric (high school): learn to fluently express your own opinions and discoveries in each subject
Exactly which grades fit into the stages are not important; kids can move through these stages at their own pace. But, I find this progression very helpful in planning our curriculum. It reminds me to tailor my expectations to the child’s development, such as not requiring original writing until the child has mastered penmanship.
Here are our priorities for the early years (which is all we’ve done so far):
1. Give them a solid foundation in arithmetic
2. Read lots of good books
3. Tell them the story of history, and give them time to incorporate it into their play
4. Spend lots of time in nature
Bottom line: It’s pretty fun to learn together as a family, and it’s an effective way to give kids an excellent academic foundation.