Finalizing Homeschooling Plans. (Lots of links!)
I have to share…indescribably adorable little fluffballs!
See their brand new wing feathers growing in? I love watching chicks feather out more and more each day. Their heads are the last part to get fully feathered.
Over the past few days I’ve been thinking more about homeschooling and what path we’ll follow.
The vast unknown causes me a bit of anxiety, so I decided I needed to write out a concrete plan. I read all of Maria Montessori’s books, and I wrote down important things I want to keep from them. (I didn’t read them in the past few days, I’ve been reading over them for a year or so.) I also read one of Charlotte Mason’s books, but they are so densely written in archaic English that my tired mama brain couldn’t get through them easily. (I was so much smarter before I had children, frightening what lack of sleep does to your brain!) I did a lot of online research about Charlotte Mason schooling and decided maybe I can combine the best parts of CM, Montessori, and a bit of Waldorf too.
I love that she emphasizes the importance of play for young children. I also love her ideas about living history, and the emphasis on being well read when it comes to literature. I do not like the idea of forcing Rosie to read the King James Bible. I understand her idea that the it helps prepare children for understanding difficult language in literature, but I don’t believe the King James Bible is correct so I don’t want Rosie to read it. I believe the translation that is the King James version was heavily influenced by politics of its day.
I also think Charlotte Mason’s methods might be a little stiff. I don’t think children always have to get things absolutely perfect, and I’m not that concerned about Christian morals being taught with every single subject…that’s a bit of overkill.
The good thing is I can pick and choose, leaving out what I don’t like.
So I think over the next couple of years we’re going to try the free Charlotte Mason curriculum on Ambleside Online. This is the Year 1 schedule.
We already have the Handbook of Nature Study. We’ve been going through it off and on for a year now. I love that book, and so does Rosie! I discovered this blog, which has lots of extra ideas to go along with the book. The Ambleside Online curriculum has us using this book for several years.
I am in the process of getting the books that go with literature and history parts of the curriculum. I found almost all of them used for $3-$8 each! A few I got free on the Kindle, the ones I thought we would be ok with not having pictures. The only ones I couldn’t find for an affordable price were the George Washington, Buffalo Bill, and Lincoln history books. They were too expensive. I might see if the library has them when we’re ready to read them. If I like them I guess I’ll buy them eventually, since the rest of my children will read them too.
Rosie and I are already working on phonics together. We practice it on our own, and she also has the Clickn’Kids program. We found a 60% off coupon online for it, making it totally affordable.
For math I am going to start out with the lesson ideas on Lesson Pathways. That site also has lesson plans for every other subject, if I need more than the Ambleside Online curriculum provides.
At some point in the next few years I also want to teach her Latin. I always wished that was a subject offered to me in school. I still want to learn Latin, so we can do it together! I’m also going to ask our Mexican friends if they want to give Rosie (and me!) Spanish lessons. Rosie would love that, it would be really fun. We already know basic Spanish, but I’d like to learn so much more.
This all being said, the most important thing is that I don’t want to overwhelm Rosie. She is only four, and four year old’s should be spending most of their time outside playing or creatively playing with toys inside, or doing arts and crafts.
I looked at the Kindergarten curriculum on Lesson Pathways, and most of it is too easy for Rosie. She’s already mastered those ideas. She’s on the cusp of reading by herself–she can sound out a lot of words but she hasn’t gained the last bit of confidence she needs. I mean it just hasn’t completely clicked yet. She will sound out a word then not realize what’s saying. Like she’ll say, ‘Bah-arrrr-nnn” and not realize she is correctly reading the word “barn”. She’ll figure it out soon though!
She already understands basic addition and subtraction, so I haven’t yet decided where we’ll start in the math lessons on the Lesson Pathway’s site.
I love that the Charlotte Mason on Ambleside uses so many good books. One reason we’ve chosen homeschooling is so that our children can find depth in their education. At public schools, at least the ones I went to, everything was so simplified. We didn’t read a lot of actual literature until the last two years of high school. We didn’t read a lot of classic books in elementary school–instead it was overly simplified silly stories that are meant to hold the attention of a large class of students. My kids are capable of so much more! Of course I’m still going to be reading Junie B. Jones, Fudge, and Ramona to her…we’ve already read some books from each of those series because they are fun favorites of mine. For actual school work though, we get to read things that will challenge her to think hard, and inspire her to learn more. I’m excited.
One thing I very, very much disliked about another popular curriculum was the simplicity of it. It was like busy work! Back a few years ago when I took care of an autistic teenage boy during the week, I did his homeschooling with him. He used Oak Meadow curriculum. The science included simple little experiments, then he had to write busy work answers for them. The social studies was the same–read this boring summary of an historical event, read a chapter from this library book, then write a little one page report with three paragraphs about what you read. It was not what I would want my kids to do for homeschooling.
Here is a sample lesson from that curriculum. (PDF file.) It is so incredibly boring. Boring summary about the constitution, boring question and answer that makes you want to stab your eye with a pencil then take a long nap on your desk. No thanks! This is where Charlotte Mason comes in. Charlotte Mason schooling would have you reading an exciting first hand account of the constitution being created in someone’s biography. Then the student would narrate what they read to siblings or parents and discuss it. Living history, facts you’ll remember because it was interesting. No drooling on your desk.
I honestly have no idea why Oak Meadow is so popular. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Right? (Hah.)
If I’m going to go through the effort of teaching them at home, well we are going to learn some things for real. They can go to school and do simple boring work like the Oak Meadow curriculum! If we’re staying home for school then they are learning in great depth about each subject we study, not just memorizing summaries someone else wrote. (And that curriculum is so expensive too! Yikes! I can use the brain in my head to facilitate awesome learning FOR FREE.)
Rosie is very eager to start doing these things–she asks to do “school” every day with me. I guess we’ll start out slowly, because I think doing everything the Ambleside curriculum lists for one week would be insane. Someone online told me she does her homeschooling in subject blocks. Several weeks of only history, studying one part of history. Then several weeks of a math concept and nothing else. Then several weeks of science. See what I mean? That sounds like such a great idea–it would really cement learning into her brain rather than having to simplify one subject just in order to move on to the next each day. It’s also good for homeschooling with multiple children, which is something I’m going to need to figure out sooner than later. Each child studies the same thing with block subjects, just a simpler or more complex version depending on their age.
That’s it. I’ve got my homeschooling plan totally figured out and written down. I can rest easier now knowing I don’t have to keep going over it in my head and fretting that I’ll forget something important and screw her up.
My kids are totally going to be well read and intelligent. ;-)
Homeschooling is an exciting new adventure on my parenting journey. I know it will change and evolve over time, just like my parenting skills and ideas have. This is part of the fun of blogging–the power to glimpse back in time to see how you’ve grown wiser.