Tuesday, September 02, 2008

switching gears

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!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for that encouraging post! I am right with you, but just a bit behind as this is our first time at Year 0. Thanks for helping me to take a breath and enjoy this gift. I look forward to more posts on the homeschooling and of course more pics and quotes from your precious kids!

Jackie said...

well said and yes, very encouraging. i wish noah were as excited about it as your kids but then he hasn't experienced the full effect of the CM curriculum yet...

Kristen Taylor said...

your posts are so inspiring to read.

and i saw you yesterday.. would have waved.. but i really did have my hands full! :)

Daniele said...

Now, that was CM very well summarized, thanks for the encouragement! Oh, and I just LOVE Farmer Boy....hope she enjoys.

J-momma said...

i love the concept of the program you are using. i really wish they would teach this way in public school. the only thing that bothers me about homeschooling (which is why we wouldn't choose it although major props for those out there that do) is the social and cultural loss of day-to-day interaction with all types of peers (bullies included) that i think is essential to getting along in the real world. know what i mean? good luck. love the ideas!

HomeGrown Life said...

The amazing thing about homeschooling is that the children are truly "socialized" and are allowed to interact with humans across the lifespan. This doesn't happen in a classroom when the child is with ONLY HIS/HER AGE MATES! Also, we are blessed to have such a rich mix of culture on our street- families from Nigeria, China and India right outside of our doors and thankfully, no bullies- THANK GOD- do you know how damaging bullying can be to a child? Why on earth would you wish one into your child's social circle? I strongly disagree that bullying will prepare a child for the real world. Adult bullies are called criminals and I do not wish to prepare my children to accept this behavior as part of the cultural/social norm.

J-momma said...

well, obviously i don't mean dangerous people. i just mean there is something to be said about having to work with a variety of types of people, personalities, and learning to deal with people you don't like. and i don't mean extreme forms of bullying, i mean playground teasing and such. that's a normal part of childhood and i feel like those experiences make one stronger and more able to deal with adults that are hard to get along with. i want my children to be strong and stand up for themselves and learn to be flexible, adaptable, and have good social skills. as a parent my main responsibility is to get them prepared for being in the "real world". as i'm sure we both do. i guess we just go about it differently. hopefully with the same result :)

Anonymous said...

A great post! I am a big supporter of homeschooling. It really opens up a child's mind and lets them be creative and learn in their own style, not a one size fits all classroom. Though I don't mean to offend I completely disagree that there is a social loss when homeschooling, quite a cliche! Socializing is done day to day with everyone we encounter and doesn't need to be in a "formal" classroom. The children I have met that are homeschooled are some of the most socialized children I have ever encountered. Keep doing what you are doing your children will benefit greatly! I also agree with your posted comment, who needs/wants bullies. This can only lead to bigger problems that can trickle into our children's psyche and adult life. I will do whatever it takes to keep bullies out of my children's lives!