Today was Nicolas' first day of formal academics, his Kindergarten year or Year 0 as it is called by Ambleside Online. He was so eager to start our day and I have to say that I found him very careful with his writing, counting and attention to detail. In between subjects, he asked me for a fun break, a chance to burn off energy and gear up for the next portion of our day. For Nicolas this meant bike riding and popping wheelies all the way down our street.
At the end of the day, he even told me about how many words he knew about. He said that he "really knew all of the words in the world, even the words idiotic and chaotic". Ah. You've gotta love him.
For Sophia, this was the start of her third year, or Second Grade/Year 2. She also was thrilled to begin and put it best when she told me that she was "glad to start up schooling again because she was getting really sick of summer". Spoken in true bluntness and candor just as always.
There has always been something very refreshing about this time of year and all of that it brings. For us, as homeschoolers, it is a little different than how I remember it from my childhood and probably a bit different from how some of you are experiencing it.
There are no school buses, backpacks, lunches to pack or supply lists to fill. In fact, I didn't even look at my supplies until today when I realized just how dull all of our pencils were and where, oh where is that pencil sharpener. Thus began my list of supplies.
I truly feel like the most fortunate woman in the world to be able to grow, learn and live with my children each and every day. Of course, we all have our space, our time apart from one another. The distance may be as small as being in another room reading or building LEGOs or being outdoors for a time, but all in all, it is time spent doing what each of us enjoy doing independent of one another. This is key.
We do school a little differently than the traditional method and rely heavily on the methods and philosophies of Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason believed that all children's minds needed to be fed a rich, high-quality diet of ideas just like the body relies on good nutrition to function optimally. That children should be given source material, not material and books that have been pre-digested by well-intending adults/publishers and spit back out into tiny bite-size portions appropriate for the small minds of children. No! Just the opposite! In short, this means a no-fluff, no-frills education.
There are not worksheets, fill-in-the-blanks or matching quizzes. No prodding questions posed again and again to the child to bring them to the answer that the adult is looking for. The child is allowed to think for themselves and to come to their own conclusions after discovering the science of relations amongst the things of this world.
The curriculum is rich, broad and liberal. Even at a young age, children are exposed to good literature, poetry, art, music, history, handicrafts , Bible readings and the natural world (this is science for the early years). Children are given short lessons so that their full attention and focus may be used instead of dawdling and losing concentration. For handwriting (or copywork as it is called with this method), only as much as can be copied perfectly should be written. For a young child, this may be a word or two.
I know, we are trained to want more, more, more and think that surely this is not enough doing for a child to learn. Often times, we focus on the product instead of the process, but genuine learning cannot be hurriend. True education requires the gift of time.
Of course there are the math and phonics/reading as well and the child is allowed to move along at his or her own pace.
We will be reading some really intersting books this term. Here are just a few...
Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling
The Burgess Animal Book by Thornton Burgess
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley
A Child's History of the World by Hillyer
Sophia has already chosen this book for free reading this Fall.
I hope to write regularly about our homeschooling journey now that the school year is underway!