Friday, August 3, 2012

Back-To-School


I always think the back-to-school sales come way too early, ruining everyone's summer! I say that as a homeschooler, too. I do apologize for this long post, and hope I do not try  my readers' patience by "thinking out loud" on this subject.

I was making a mental list of all the things that I want to teach this year, and wondering how in the world am I going to fit them all in?
More Bible Study (we are already doing the Advanced Bible Reader)
Bible Memorization
Poetry Memorization (my grandmother often recited to me poems she had learned in a little school house on Whidby Island when she was a girl. She was very proud of them and they were poems with good meanings. I would love for my students to say the same thing to their grandchildren!)
Memorizing or at least becoming extremely familiar with the US founding documents
Singing in harmony, and learning to lead a song/keep time/keep everyone on key
Piano lessons
Spanish lessons
Reading aloud good literature (we very much enjoy reading aloud time-- a moral lesson, examples from history, an adventure story, Little Pilgrim's Progress, and poetry-- unfortunately it often gets "knocked off" of our list if we are running late)
Exploring more Ancient History, as well as keeping on with American History
Enjoying going on rabbit trails with whatever we are studying, and learning more and more!
Enjoying the outdoors by being able to know what we are hearing, seeing (nature studies)
Learning new skills and hobbies
Enjoying taking their hobbies to a new level with practice
Taking educational trips
Becoming Geography Experts
Starting a little business
Nap times everyday for everyone-- very very quiet ones
Oh, and all the regular reading, writing and arithmetic too.
Oh, and also I want to simplify this year.

As this list overwhelms me, I think back to the list of what I did as a homeschool student. I feel that I had a very rich education, and my mother made it seem somewhat effortless (though I know she went to a lot of effort to make it happen!). Being rather alone in this venture (so we thought) and not having many materials at hand to start homeschooling with, she went on her instinct on what and how to teach us. As I have read up on different methods for my own school, I realize that my mother was teaching us in the Charlotte Mason style, the Classical style, "Delight learning" and the un-schooling style, along with a good bit of ABeka book style. I think I'll call it "Eclectic." [I want to add here that she had never heard of Charlotte Mason, and was not familiar with the other "styles" of home education-- she was going on instinct] It was school, but it was better. The only time I recall having a real burden-type feeling was when we took a state test. No one enjoyed it, the teacher nor the student.

When we began homeshcooling, my dad brought home:
a desk,
a globe (that good old orb has lasted into the next generation of students, despite being overly-spun, dropped many times and split in half-- which was a lesson in itself on how globes are made),
a dictionary (Webster's 1828),
a small chalkboard,
an atlas (A side note here: that atlas stayed around for many years with the entire front section of it devoted to Darwin's theories. It finally occurred to me one day that this is our atlas, and we don't have to keep this stuff in it, so I gave myself permission to "ruin" it and cut out those pages, and now we have a book of just plain maps. Remember that any books and magazines you own are yours, and you can edit them with white out, markers or just have pages disappear),
The King James Bible and Young's Analytical Concordance,
and that was what we started on.
No Internet, no computers, no library card.
If a bookstore had a good book on drawing or music, my folks bought it whether or not it was at our "grade level" or even written for children.
Curriculum was found over the years and added to it (such as Abeka for math, history and grammar, and McGuffey's readers and Spencerian penmanship), but I suspect my parents could have taught us a lot without the extra books.

My mother has a knack of making a lesson out of something at hand. She can take a Victoria magazine and set it down before you, and suddenly you are studying a geography lesson, a history lesson, architecture, art, cooking, nature studies, handwriting, literature, and then writing a letter (by pen-in-hand) on a card that you painted with watercolor (from a photo in the magazine) to a friend to share about it.
Let me tell you, that is the best kind of school day.

My education was not just doing book work, but taking nature walks, playing the piano, writing and publishing, drawing and painting, sewing and crafting, cooking, and reading reading reading! I was given exposure to the depth and history of the English Language as the phrases in the King James translation of the Bible were explained to me. I was taken to concerts of many types of music, as well as having a lot of music playing at home (From Bob Wills to Beethoven). I was taken to museums, teas (for culture, you know), garden tours, and other events as opportunities came. We did all of the things on the list on the top of this post. And besides all that, my mother sewed half or more of my wardrobe and hers, besides writing her own newsletters and keeping house (in other words, she "had a life" beyond teaching schoolwork-- though I think it more accurate to say our whole life was home school!).

I'll grant you, I didn't do everything every single day. Maybe not even every single week. I am sure I just remember it all as one seamless day-- but it is the same kind of memory I want my own children to have.

Somehow I have to fit it all in, without it being so regulated that my little students will feel like they are "doing" schoolwork. Without the bursting through the door at the appointed time, thirsting for Lego and freedom!

All the beautiful paintings were found at Wikimedia Commons


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