Lately I have thought a lot about our way of schooling…how my family schools. What brought this all on was after having gone to an all day long Charlotte Mason Seminar a couple of weeks ago. About every three months or so, my husband, who really doesn’t have a thing to do with our day to day schooling, will ask me some sort of a question like…”Are they doing any book work?” OR “Do you think the younger kids are as smart compared to what the older kids were?” As you can imagine, this is frustrating to me as he is too busy with work most of the time to even ask the kids what they did on any given day. So, I discussed this with a friend of mine who has known me for many years now. They too, are a home schooling family, and have been home schooling even longer than our 16½ years.
This is what I came up with…No, we are not as go-go-go as we were with the older kids with Sign Language, Dance, Drama, Spanish classes, Science Experiments… However, we do a lot more “outside” things now that we didn’t do then - like caring for farm animals, building forts, building go-carts out of old riding lawn mowers, working in our flower or vegetable gardens, hauling trash to the burn hole, working in the barns, riding their bikes, riding the 4-wheeler, mowing the yard, building different things that they imagine, blowing in insulation to our attic, building walls, taping and mudding, running electrical wire, sanding, painting, adding gas-oil-antifreeze to the vehicles, etc., etc. The boys would loathe having to be go-go-go like the older girls did. They would not like being in the car soooooooo much like we were with the girls. I don’t want to be gone as much as I am, let alone as much as I used to be!
(Now this is what my friend clearly pointed out to me…)
I do school, but I also school in a different way than anyone else because of my personality, our kid’s personalities, our circumstances, our family size and ages, our surroundings in the country, the learning styles involved, the dyslexia and other issues, the babysitting and lots of family time, having Zach in placement etc., etc., etc There is such a HUGE range in homeschooling---some families spend so much time in music and piano; some spend lots of time and effort on art; some families do lots of field trips and outings; some families are so scholastic that their little ones are reading and writing w-a-y before most kids are; some families delve into sign language with their babies (like Saph does with Kaden); some families run businesses and their kids learn those skills… Our family’s strength is … well, family. We are a hands-on family where the house is being built from the basics outward so our kids are helping do what our family is involved with---including picking up nails, clearing brush, cutting and hauling wood, and assisting Dad. Our family learns child care at an early age and every child of ours can relate to children in a multitude of ages---our older ones can change diapers, calm a fussy child, entertain a toddler, and put a sibling to bed. As they grow older, they are able to run a household in my absence for short periods of time, and feed the family and watch their siblings. Our kids know how to relate and do home life including cooking and laundry and cleaning---skills most high school graduates don’t have a clue about. Think of Ashley as an example---she may not be quite able to read at a 12th grade level yet (though she has read the Twilight series – 500 page books – all on her own now which is a HUGE accomplishment from several years ago!), but she can run the household and care for anyone who is sick, with her hands tied behind her back---very necessary skills in life, but not necessarily academic ones---every family is different and God wants us to pass on to our kids what WE have to offer our kids. Our kids have also learned how to care for animals (a big responsibility), build fences, deal with death of pets, watch out for their niece and nephews and keep them safe, plant a wonderful garden, relate to each other and a multitude of other skills that are not in the books at school because they would be impossible to teach to a classroom, but I have been able to teach them at home. Our family excels at babies---every one of us!!! That is a gift of our family. I don’t focus on music, art, demanding they attend college in high school, or athletics---but I always focus on my family and include school in our family life.
So do we do bookwork? Of course we do! I spend much time in preparation, planning, research, ordering, spending time reading to our kids during the day, and on and on. At the minimum right now, daily we do Bible, Poetry, Church History, Math, Reading, Copywork, (and Cory also does Cursive), each day. The kids are 5, 7, 9 and 11. They are all still in elementary school. That is just the things we are doing to finish out the end of this year’s school work. I know for certain that next year, we will see what the Lord brings us to. But I know that we will be using the Charlotte Mason theories for schooling again next year as well.
(To learn more about who Charlotte Mason was, and her teaching theories, see my ‘older posts’ entitled: “Our 16th Year of Home Schooling is Almost Upon Us!!!”)