I’m sure you know by now that I homeschool my boys. I don’t really keep that a secret. I’ve been doing it since they were small, but never very well, I don’t think. Now, I know they’ve learned stuff; I just have some major improvement to do.
In the early years, we did the “all workbook, all the time” approach simply because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t want to miss anything. We had workbooks for math, reading, language arts, spelling, and writing. We did a lesson from each one every day.
The boys hated it.
And if I’m being perfectly honest, while I was comfortable in knowing I wasn’t lacking as a teacher, I didn’t love it either. It wasn’t what “home school” was supposed to be. I’m not of the unschool philosophy; that’s taking it too far. But learning should be fun. If all I was going to do was have them fill out worksheets all day, they could do that in public school and at least have a park (playground) to play at during specified times.
Last year, we just did the workbook for math. We did unit studies for everything else. There were some successes, but by and large, I don’t think it was enough.
So I’m going to try yet another approach this year. I came across Ambleside Online a few weeks ago. They offer completely free curriculum from Kindergarten through high school, in the Charlotte Mason style. For those of you who don’t know, Charlotte Mason was a British woman who lived from 1842-1923 and spent her life developing a teaching method for children using “living books” (real books by people who care about their topic rather than textbooks). She believed that children are not blank slates, but small people and should be treated as such. She had three main mottoes regarding education.
“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”
“Education is the science of relations.”
“I am, I can, I ought, I will.”
I like these phrases. I like the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. So I’m going to try it with my boys this year. For the first time in our homeschooling career together, I’m excited for the school year to start.
Here’s what we’ll be studying in our first term (we’re going to do three, 12-week terms):
Old Testament: Genesis 1-15
New Testament: Matthew 1-10
We’ll be using mostly books that are available for free online, through the library, or inexpensive through the Kindle store.
A Child’s History of the World by V.M. Hillyer (this is available in volumes through our library. You can also get the book as a single volume from Amazon)
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (this is available for free online and is a history of England)
This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall (available free online; a history of America)
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula (available free online; a series of biographies)
Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge (available free from Amazon for the Kindle version; historical fiction)
The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess (free online)
Tree in the Trail by Holling Clancy Holling (available in my library; the story of a cottonwood tree growing in the Great Plains and its contribution to the history of the southwest)
Shakespeare: We will be reading Gentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet this term.
Parables of Nature by Margaret Gatty (available online)
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (available online)
We will be reading one poem a day by Walter de la Mare. There’s a collection available online.
We will also be reading 800 words a week of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.
We will be studying Johannes Brahms and Vincent van Gogh for our music and art lessons. I have curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler for those.
We will be doing daily lessons of math, copywork (handwriting), reading (silent reading of the kids’ choice), and foreign language (Spanish, because we attend an English/Spanish bilingual church). Math will be a workbook simply because that’s the most cost-effective way to do it. For Spanish, I’m going to start us with an app on my phone. Eventually, I’ll probably ask one of the Hispanic members of our church if they would be willing to give us lessons once a week or so, with assigned homework.
I think that about covers us for the first 12 weeks. 🙂
P.S. Wherever I say “available online” and don’t provide a link, those are on the Ambleside site. I would’ve provided specific links, but I’m short on computer time and don’t want to make this post from my phone ;).