Peter and I are embarking on a journey of home educating our children. Neither of us were home schooled, and it has been quite the learning curve for us to research a topic with such width and breadth.
A year ago, we knew nothing about home school curriculum or home school philosophies. We didn’t know about creating an atmosphere of learning. Or, using science ‘class’ as a means of observing God’s handiwork.
I had never read about the value of perfecting a handicraft or what it looks like to train little ones with good and lifelong habits. I didn’t know the value of letting a young child discover the world first hand and grow a relationship with everything he is learning. I had never seen and understood the value of pursuing excellence. I didn’t know I could teach my child to think and discern for himself by reading rich literature to him and providing him with stimulating ideas and characters.
We have learned lots and are discovering a well of wisdom and knowledge by talking with those who have gone before us and by reading. We are reading lots. And lots. And lots.
I hear about home school co-ops and home school groups and home school classes. I have never seen one in process or seen how one works. Are they different than the public school classes I attended? Is it complete chaos with a bunch of kids who don’t know how to sit still? Is it a group of unsocialized children who struggle to interact? How do home school moms remember enough history from grade school to pass it on to their children?
I joined a local home school Facebook group a couple months ago. I am able to see moms interact via comments and activities. One mom posted an invitation to other moms to come and observe their home school group. I jumped at the opportunity since I have never seen a home school group or co-op in action. It was a three hour workshop. I learned a LOT. It was not what I expected, but I have a lot to digest after watching a three hour morning with a group of about 20 children and moms.
This particular group uses Charlotte Mason’s philosophies of teaching and education. They started at 9:00 am and finished at 12:20 pm. Children ranged in age from three to sixteen.
+Read a passage from the book of Proverbs.
+Straight from the Bible.
+Read once through.
+Let children just sit and think at the end of the reading.
+The mother closed the short session in prayer.
+Everyone stand and stretch.
+Lead some vocal warm-ups.
+Lead the singing of three pieces. ‘Down By the Sally Gardens.’ ‘Take My Life & Let it Be.’ & ‘Skyboat Song.’
+The children had the songs memorized. A few played acoustic instruments. And I heard bits of beautiful harmony here and there.
+Ten minute reading from Plutarch. (Roman historian)
+One child gave a short presentation with scenes and drawings representing the latest readings.
+Question & answer time: ‘Who can tell me what happened?’ ‘What do you think about…’
+One young child chimed in about Brutus and Shakespeare and their overlap in history.
+Application of John 15:13, ‘Greater love has no one than this…’
+Second short reading straight from Plutarch’s account.
+Lots of discussion about the character of the men discussed in the history book.
+Painting and artist study.
+A short narrative and overview was given on artist Jacque Louis David.
+A specific painting was studied.
+Every child was handed a print of the painting. They took time to observe the painting. They then turned the painting over upon request and attempted to sketch and draw the painting themselves.
+Current poetry study on Christina Rossetti.
+’Tell me about our poet.’ –Lots of thoughtful responses from the children.
+’What do we know about her letters?’
+Reading of a Rossetti poem.
+’Someone tell me about that poem.’
+Children told a wide variety of stories of their own real life associations with the particular poem just read.
+Second poetry reading.
+Recitation of a third poem that everyone had memorized.
+Brief history was given on Rosetti.
Break for the children to run and play.
+A music study on composer Franz Schubert.
+Talked about the piece ‘Death and a Maiden.’
+Mother read a narrative about Schubert’s life.
+’Does anyone want to recap Schubert?’
+Everyone listened to one movement of one of his symphonies.
+A time of sharing about differing perspectives on his music commenced.
+Recap of the last few readings of Shakespeare.
+Where were we? What happened? Can you summarize in four sentences?
+Everyone was assigned speaking parts for an upcoming parents night to end the semester.
Lunch. Everyone brought their own lunches.
+Nature study on Queen Ann’s Lace.
+’Close your eyes and picture the shape, color, flowers, sets of petals, height, stalk, leaves, root, etc…’
+’Tell me, what does Queen Ann’s Lace look like?’
+The mother briefly discussed some facts from a field guide: Latin name? native to where? blooms? root qualities?
+Write about Queen Ann’s Lace in your nature journal.
+Nature study on geraniums.
+Look at the geranium on the table in front of you.
+Observe it. Leaves? Flowers? Petals? Flowerettes? Anthers? Filaments? Stigmas?
+Narration of facts from the mother leading this session.
+Draw a geranium in your nature journal. Draw it as close to real size as possible.
+John Muir’s Laws were also discussed briefly to give a few tips on drawing the veins in the leaves.
+Children could sit and draw and water color as long as they preferred.
Sitting in on this group for one day was so valuable for me. I was a little surprised at how much was covered in three hours of time. I noted that all the sessions, individually, were very short. The children were attentive. Rarely did the mother leading a session have to wait for a response.
I enjoyed seeing the excitement of the little ones, but I appreciated the thoughtful responses from the older students. I wasn’t sure how a mixed group like that learned together, but when you value a person as a person, young or old, everyone respects everyone’s responses.
Peter and I will continue exploring different avenues of educating our children, but I think we are coming closer to how we think we can bring the best life long learning experience to our children.