I had thought about homeschooling before. 10 years before now. Before Grace went to Kindergarten and I became a PTA card carrying, Board of Ed Meeting attending, Room Mother. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things. I was both proud and happy to help my children’s school do everything they possibly could for my children and the hundreds of other children who spent their days there. I made friends, my girls (well....Grace) made friends. We went to the concerts, fairs, field days, and fundraising events. The school was the heart of our community. We walked every day, rain or shine, with our neighbors. That school was the reason we bought into our neighborhood. We wanted to give our children the same sense of community we had growing up, with Greg in Chicago and me in Worcester. But in the back of my mind I was already wondering if there was another way and if I would ever have the chance to experience it with my girls......
Once the decision was made to try homeschooling, I had about two weeks to pull together a curriculum and figure out my style. I withdrew Lilah two weeks before the start of the Christmas Break. Her effective date was 12/23, which gave time for closure among her classmates and her teacher. I kept the bulk of my material from my teaching days and started there. Realizing that most would not translate to teaching just one child, I kept what I loved and Goodwilled the rest. During this time I read voraciously. I devoured The Well Trained Mind. I found myself agreeing with most of what the author stated.
- I liked the idea that classic literature was the basis of language arts and that the children would have multiple exposures to a classic such as The Odyssey, first as an abridged version, later as the original text.
- I agreed with the concept of copywork. Practicing sentence structure and narration would train the mind.
- Ah, history from the beginning! No jumping from no history in 4th grade to Egyptian history in 5th grade then to U.S. history in 7th. How cool would it be to start at the very beginning......
- A binder neatly divided into subjects would store out work and keep us organized.
- Grammar used to be taught in school. Now, not so much. In fact I had a conversation with a 4th grade teacher last year when she saw my daughter brought MadLibs to entertain herself and her friends on a field trip. She commented she used to love Mad Libs but can’t use them anymore because the kids don’t know the components of language. I almost fell off my bus seat. How about you TEACH them???
- I thought since my girls were used to being in school a schedule would be helpful, a breakout of our day by subject, by time.
- First Language Lessons
- Story of the World book 1 and the accompanying activity book
- Singapore Math books
- Write With Ease
- A Reason for Spelling
I thought, "this is similar to how I used to teach. I used poetry to teach cursive writing. I am an organized structured person" (or I was when we started homeschooling!). I marked the book up, created booklists and shopped on the internet.
We did animal classification with books from the library and an encyclopedia of Animals. Our reading came mostly from history, again with lots and lots of books from the library.
January 3rd, we began. At the time it was just Lilah and me since Grace was finishing out her 4th grade year before a decision was made to bring her home as well. We would walk Grace to school, come home and begin our lessons at 9am prompt. It worked. Lilah loved Grammar. We both loved History. Math was a daily battle but she hated math in school and I did not expect that miraculously she would love it just because she was home. I did however, love Singapore Math and felt that it suited her learning style. Spelling was tedious and took a loooong time. Lapbooks were made for frogs, squirrels and snakes. Through Write with Ease we were introduced to books such as Dr. Doolittle and characters like Cruella DeVille and the inspiration behind Nanny McPhee. Many of these books we checked out of the library as audiobooks. We created our Book of Centuries and became familiar faces to our local librarians.
We made friends. She joined swimming and Brownies. Often we would sprint across the blacktop racing to meet Grace who more often than not was one of the last in her class to be picked up. Grace had homework, Lilah did not. Grace has standardized tests, Lilah did not. Grace got to play in concerts, Lilah did not. Grace ate lunch every day with friends, Lilah did not.
Weeks became months and soon spring was here. Some things were going very well, like History. Other subjects like spelling were not. Math was going well, writing was not. It was time to evaluate what we wanted to keep, what we wanted to discard and how closely I aligned my philosophy with that of a classical education.
I began to look at Charlotte Mason......