Friday, November 23, 2007

How We Got to Here, Pt. 2

....Or, Our Homeschool Philosophy
So, when Ben was not even 2 1/2 and I started collecting catalogs from homeschooling companies. I'd do internet searches on our verrrrrrrrryyyyyyyy sloooooooow dial up connection for homeschool curriculum and request catalogs. I don't recall fully how I found Sonlight Curriculum, but it was an earth shattering, life altering discovery. I absolutely love to read, love history (my undergraduate major), and love to cuddle with my son and read to him. Sonlight's rich literature base approach was just the educational method that I wanted for my son. At 30 months old, Ben's education was charted out until he left for college -- all in one catalog.

Now, as a first time homeschooler with The Most Brilliant Child in the World entrusted to me, there just seemed like no reason to wait to start his education. By this time, I was pregnant with Budding Brilliant Child #2, and decided we needed to "play" school and get used to a routine. So, I purchased Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Explode the Code, Sonlight Preschool, A Reason for Handwriting, and Singapore Math, and we were all set to go! We'd read, read, feed baby, read, sit at the table and do some workbook stuff, feed baby, eat, nap, feed baby... it was great.

In between all this wonderful bonding time, I also heard about The Well Trained Mind (TWTM) and borrowed it from our library. As much as I'd fallen in love with Sonlight Curriculum, I fell in love with this curriculum guide doubly so. By the time we'd worked our way through Sonlight's preK twice, I began to make plan to change to the neo-classical model outlined in TWTM.

Why? I love the organized nature of the neo-classical model presented by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. It just suits my nature perfectly. I also love that the neo-classical model focuses around history. Again, this suits me. Finally, I really agreed with the three stages that a child passes through in their cognitive development; much of this resonated with my professional training (MA in Communication Disorders: Speech Language Pathology).

The final key to our educational philosophy involves God. Since one of the biggest reasons for homeschooling our boys was discipling them and preparing them for their role in God's Kingdom, I wanted to make sure that all our studies glorified Him and encouraged us to look for His hand in all that he created.

Skip ahead to more online searches and surfing and I found Tapestry of Grace. This, dear reader, was the cornerstone I'd been missing in my desire to provide a top-notch, Christ-centered curriculum that didn't recreate school at home. I'm quoting from Marcia Somerville and Lampstand Press so carefully explain:

“As Christians, we believe in a sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient God who
rules and reigns in all the details of history. We believe that He created
all the earth and its inhabitants for His divine purposes. Therefore, all of
history glorifies Him and teaches us something about Him. Knowing history
helps people to know our origins and sense our destiny. It humbles us,
reminding us that we are creatures, finite, small, and completely in God’s
power. We do not deny that human beings have free will, nor that our
choices are real, and have real consequences. But, in our modern world where
we seem to have so much control, it is important for our children to learn
that their lives are to fit into God’s plan, not that they are only required
to "make room" in their busy lives for Him.”
The rest of our philosopy can be summarized here:
  • Children are naturally curious and this should be encouraged and nurtured, never sacrificing this curiosity to stay “on schedule.”
  • Children in the early elementary years are in the “grammar stages” of learning: they are learning the details of academic subjects – facts, lists, rules, etc.
  • Education should create children who want to learn, know how to learn, and can communicate what they learn to others.
  • Use living books as much as possible.

I try to keep these points front-and-center as I plan our year, month and week. I don't always get it all right -- I am very black-and-white and sometimes get stressed out if we stay on a topic too long or don't finish our week's plan as scheduled -- but I do try and more importantly, I pray and ask for God's grace to wash over my mistakes.

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