When I meet new people and they learn that we homeschool, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “How do you do it? Do you buy curriculum?” Generally, the one asking is simply being polite and isn’t seeking a lengthy response. I try to put it in a nutshell and I reply, “I do buy some curricula (a math text and workbook so I don’t omit something and history); mostly though we do a lot of reading and science.” Occassionally, they will inquire further – but generally not.
I usually don’t go into our methods unless I am speaking to another homeschooler. Even other certified educators are unfamiliar with the leading philosophies of home education. Evidenced when they tilt their head and their brow line turns down as their eyes focus in on my face as if to say, “What are you talking about?”
A recent post on the Well Trained Minds forum led me to give some thought to how two different approaches to homeschool education are so well suited for one another. I thought I would take a minute to summarize how we utilize both in our homeschool.
What we do a la Charlotte Mason:
- Lessons of short duration
- Lots of narration (all oral at this point)
- Lots of copywork
- Nature Walks
- Picture Study
- Composer Study
- Living Books (i.e. good literature)
- Lots of handcrafts (cross-stitch, crochet, illustration, etc.)
- Masterly Inactivity encouraged
- Foreign Language (Charlotte encouraged French – remember she hailed from England in the late 1800s – we went with Mandarin and Spanish)
What we do a la Classical / Trivium:
- 4 year rotation (science and history)
- Story of the World
- Classic Literature (Gilgamesh, Odyssey, Shakespeare, etc.)
- Latin (though not yet)
- Singapore Math
- 3 distinct stages: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric
Yet, I would imagine our school doesn’t look anything like the school of another family following Charlotte Mason or the Trivium. People learn by playing, thinking and amazing themselves. They learn while they’re laughing at something surprising, and they learn while they’re wondering “What the heck is this!?” I thereby sprinkle in a little Sandra Dodd / John Holt into our approach to education.
Thus, a little bit Unschooling:
- Life learning
- Child directed (though I do plan lesssons, I will change direction upon interest)
- Very much ‘play’ oriented (particularly at this age) – i.e., Masterly Inactivity
- We do not adhere to a rigid schedule, we go with the flow and with what feels right
There is no right way to educate your children at home. It is a journey. You’ll find what works for you along the way. The important thing to remember is that you are building solid relationships with your children. You are growing and learning together.