This was originally written for a message board I”m on. I hope you enjoy my thoughts on homeschooling and my future plans!
OK. I love homeschooling. I fully intend on homeschooling my children for elementary school. If, however, they do not do well with it (like my brother Joey) then I’m open to private school options. I’d also love to educate them through high school as well.
My decision to homeschool is firmly rooted in my overall parenting philosophy. I believe that parents have a moral obligation to ensure that their children are being educated. They are the ones who are to make the decision about HOW to educate their child as well. There are lots of options (as we all know) but I believe that for me and my family (only) homeschooling is the best option. I believe that children learn best from someone that they trust and love. I also believe that children learn best in an environment where they are safe and comfortable and do not have to fear being judged. I also feel that children will learn best in an environment filled with people of lots of different ages: adults, teenagers, elementary age kids, toddlers and babies. I believe that kids learn best by studying things that they like. I also firmly believe that you learn best by teaching others.
This breaks down into some serious homeschooling points.
1) I will start my child’s education at birth. This means giving them interactive opportunities and putting them in situations with people of all ages. Learning starts at birth. “School” does not start at a certain age either. Age appropriate activities are important at all times.
2) I will trust myself to teach my kids. One of my least favorite reasons to not homeschool is that parents feel they do not have the knowledge to do so. You went through a ton of school, right? A lot of people have college degrees. You have enough knowledge to get your kid through at least elementary school, if not through all of high school. You might have to learn some teaching techniques, but when it comes to actually knowing the material to teach it, heck, go over their textbook before they start. It WILL come back to you pretty quickly.
3) When I don’t know something that my kids want to learn, then I won’t be afraid to seek help (or learn it myself). This is where co-ops come in. Growing up (and being homeschooled since 2d grade) we had some different groups that we were a part of. When I was in grade school I was part of a group called “Guardian Angels” that was more of a play group than a co-op. We did do some work on genealogy and quilting, but no classes until middle school. Then we did a latin class together. Our family also met up at a parish where they had (if I remember correctly) latin, some religion classes and gym. I feel confident that I can teach my kids foreign languages, so I”m not worried about that, but if it comes to it, I’ll need to find co-ops for science classes. Or I’ll simply enroll them in elective classes at the public school (if that’s still an option). My sister took anatomy for a year thanks to that program.
4) I will educate my children together and focus their studies on the same topics. For instance, if I have kids in 1, 3, and 5th grade, plus a preschooler and a baby we might do a science unit on space. They will have different assignments based on their abilities, but we’ll do general education/introduction to the topic together. The first grader might make some balls of the solar system and play with the toddler with them while I help the 3 and 5 graders write some essays about the different planets. This is based on a “one-room schoolhouse” model. I will also encourage the kids to work together. Reading time might consist of the oldest child reading to the younger ones, then switch off. Having an older sibling teach a younger one does two things: it reinforces the topic for the older child and introduces it to the younger one. It’s a deliciously wonderful concept.
Practically speaking (for those who are interested) I have a lot of books already (from my mom). I LOVE going to the homeschooling book fairs, and I’m sure I’ll change stuff up all the time, but I definitely have ideas already. Laura Berquist has a program called Mother of Divine Grace and a book about classical education. I’ll utilize this method for literature and history. For younger students, it’s a lot of memorization of poetry (which does continue through middle/early high school). I like that to introduce literature to younger kids, but I know it’s not for every kid. For older kids, once they are established readers, I’ll use classical literature to teach a lot of different things. Prime example (for girls) is the Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Anne of Green Gables. You get a lot of history out of those as well as some science. I know some moms are working on a year long curriculum using Anne as the base that covers almost all subjects (more info here).
Math books. Saxon is the way to go (Saxon’s website). A beka isn’t bad for younger students (my mom would use it k-3) but Saxon now has k-12 so I would probably just go with them (they used to only have 4-12).
Science is something I’m not as familiar with as I blew it off when I was in school. It’s a tough thing to work into curricula for kids who do NOT want to learn it (like me). I think I’ll try and do more workbooks and working it into the literature aspects for that kind of kid. My mom had a great series but I can’t remember the name of it for high school. Jay Wilde, maybe? Something like that.
Religion is going to be interesting to me. There are so many options for all ages and I know there are always new books coming out, so I’ll probably wait and see what’s good when my kids need it. If I find a good series though (like a k-8 or high school) I’ll probably get the whole thing then, cause it sucks when stuff goes out of print. I do like the Didache series (Scott Hahn is a part of it) for high school. I so wish I had had this when I was in high school (instead I had this old school Fr. Laux series written in like, the 1940’s,more on those here).
I have a lot of early readers that are reprints of old school readers that are great for the early grades. Who cares if they are written in the 50’s or the 1800’s? Kids who are learning how to read sure don’t care!