Written earlier this year, but resharing as the new school year unfolds.
One of the most freeing truths I have come to embrace is that a homeschool atmosphere is not going to look like a school atmosphere. It’s different – and the freedoms a smaller, intimate atmosphere offers should be celebrated.
I like homeschooling my kids. I like what I get to create in my home and the hands on opportunities we have with our children’s education.
The enjoyment of it as a whole is quite honestly what keeps me going. It’s not that every moment is beautiful, productive, or enjoyable. It is sometimes messy, unproductive, and there are plenty of clashes in personalities and temperaments.
But the truth of the matter is I find it incredibly satisfying to feed them information and help them process it and watch them learn. I like the balance of pushing and expecting a lot out of them, and then stepping back and supporting them as they sort through the information and linger over it.
Really, it is a great mental challenge to push them further and then pull back so they can relish in the new learning – and I thoroughly enjoy the challenge. (As does Paul – he feeds them the sciences much more deeply than I ever could!)
Our goal to have children that turn into adults that are life long learners drives our teaching style.
Right now we don’t use workbooks or textbooks. Our learning is primarily done through reading good books, examining the lives and works of artists of old, memorizing poetry and Bible verses, being outdoors, and having conversations.
Our days aren’t as ordered and structured as perhaps they ought to be – we have had a lot on our plate lately and, honestly? We want to come out on the other end loving each other, not biting off one another’s heads – so we do what we can this season.
Copy work and personal reading are done daily. So are copious amounts of read alouds and narration. There is also a discussion regarding our current habit.
There is a strong emphasis on their person – can they hear and follow instructions? Are they trustworthy? Do they have self control? Are they obedient? Can they entertain themselves? Can they see something that needs to be done and do it without instructions?
Those are the things that propel my teaching style.
Language is an enjoyable process that is gently nurtured through Language Lessons. It doesn’t fit everyone, but it has been a good match for us – user friendly, repetitive, and simple. I ignore most of her memory work as we have our own memory schedule.
Math is conversation and every day life problems. We will get to the work sheets and books eventually, but for now I am convinced this is setting a strong foundation for a framework of mastery. They listen to math songs daily too, trying to squeeze those facts in through song.
History has a time period focus – this year it is the Middle Ages. We have enjoyed stories and activities relating to the time period and are planning a huge year end celebration with a Medieval feast they have been planning all year.
Science is done similarly, with unit studies. This year we started with the earth, then the water cycle, and now we are studying outer space. A huge selection of books, and a few hands on activities keep things interesting and keep us moving along.
I have many moments of frustration with a particular child whom’s learning style is so completely foreign to me. But my husband gently reminds me – it’s a journey. It’s not a race and there is no moment in life when learning ends. We are raising him to be a man of character and an independent learner.
The child doesn’t need to know “it” today, or even next week. This is a process.
Enjoy the journey.
More so, I have been challenged with the thought of being the joy in the journey of education for my children. Creating an environment that is warm and inviting – a mixture of textures, smells, and beautiful things to touch, hear, and see; to appeal to the senses in a way that inspires and delights.
As the mother in the family my attitude, tone, and focus dictates an enormous amount about our homes attitude and I have the power to craft a happy home or a miserable one. And while this is of course true of any mother, it is true of every teacher too – so the mother who bears both titles for her own children has a lot on her shoulders.
But it is a joyful responsibility.
When I am feeding my soul needs and spending time with the Lord each day – whether it be rising early or setting the children to a task that keeps them busy – I can better meet the day and needs of others.
“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” – oh how that truth applies to homeschool mothers!
Getting outside daily does WONDERS for us all – purposeful nature study or just a simple walk – we all feel better when we have spent time out of doors. The atmosphere of our homeschool is instantly lifted; boys can go gallivanting and burn energy, and the fresh air is invigorating.
Hot cups of tea in the afternoon, along with a story or conversation, is another uplifting activity we all enjoy.
A special treat to munch while doing personal reading and copy work has lent itself to making a tedious task feel much more enjoyable – they are self propelled to get those tasks done on their own as they know a treat awaits them. Boys will do most anything for food. This quote from Charlotte Mason is quite stirring – when we get to the end of our time here at home, “How much does (the child) care?”
It’s not how much my kids know. I could never live up to that pressure.
The idea of giving them a “full life” encourages me towards creating this homeschool atmosphere that pushes a love of learning, a love for the life God has given each of us as individuals – uniquely crafted by Him, a love for His people and creation and, most importantly, a love for Him.