Our Bare (Educational) Bones

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A lot of people ask me what curricula I use  in our homeschool.  With so many educational philosophies, co-ops, and methods out there many would-be home educators feel overwhelmed when trying to decide on what they should emphasize with their own kids.  I get it.  It’s taken me a long time to come to what I feel are the right educational priorities for our family.  And the truth is, our path has as much to do with my strengths and preferences (since I’m steering this ship) as it does with our kids’ individual proclivities.

The thing that scares people about home education is the same thing that makes it so great:  It’s the wild, wild West of learning.  There are no one-size-fits-all rules or methods that are guaranteed to help you crank out superstar kids, or your money back.  Home education happens, well, in the home.  I suspect your home is somewhat different from your neighbor’s in terms of decor, food offerings, movies watched, tears cried, arguments had, memories made.  It only makes sense that each homeschooler’s way of educating is as unique as the home they’ve created and the children they’re rearing.

Still, none of the above answers the question my friends ask me:  But what do you do in your homeschool?  I usually resist going into specifics because I’m afraid that offering up details sounds like a prescription for Doing It Right.  I have no desire to do that as I don’t believe there’s just one way to stoke a love of learning in children.  I am a big believer in sticking to, and emphasizing, what I define as the basics, however.  What follows is a little outline of what we’ve judged to be non-negotiables in our homeschool.

Reading:  We read every day.  I read aloud to the kids from the Bible and I read from a poetry book I really like.  We have discussions that range from the banal to the sublime.  I have middle school boys, I remind you.  Sometimes I have to cut the discussions short as they skid into the embankments of the ridiculous.

My kids are always working on a book of their choice as well.  I assign reading occasionally and they are faithful to read the books I press on them.  However, if I sense a real reluctance about a book from any one of them I usually end up reading it to them instead.  This is because I do not want reading to be compulsory and therefore odious.  (This is a huge thing for me).

Writing:  The kids have notebooks that they fill with everything from doodling and idea snippets to poems and short narratives.  I don’t force them to write in these journals but I do tell them to leave off describing things to me and to “share it with your notebook” from time-to-time.  They each have blogs to which they are semi-faithful to post.  Their posts are, you know, kind-of meh.  But I don’t care.  They’re kids.  Now, in case you think I’m a pretty hands-free mom, I hasten to add that I do utilize a formal writing program that I love.  We go to a little class with other writers, in fact.  This program teaches grammar as well as the elements and style of writing.  This is a non-negotiable in our house.  The backbone of our bare bones, you might say.

Math:  We love this program.  We use it every day.  My motto with math is, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  That’s all I’ve got to say.

And that’s it, folks.  Those are our main things.  We play music, do Latin worksheets, take jujitsu, wade in the creek, think thoughts, read science books, listen to audiobooks, work on our history timeline, go to the library, work on our table manners, feed the pets, do chores, go to church, make friends, travel, dream and pray.  But I don’t count these things as school, really.  They’re just life.

What things do you emphasize in your homeschool, if you have one?  On what would you like to focus more?

 

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