Our First Official Homeschool Break

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We homeschool for six weeks and take a week off. Many veteran homeschoolers have recommended this schedule as a sanity preserver, so I am going with the voice of experience. We have homeschooled now for six weeks and this is the first official school break in our home. It’s exciting.

I thought this would be the week when I finally finish some writing projects and can applesauce, but I have all kinds of other appointments which I was not planning on. On top of that, our monthly Ripley’s Aquarium science class happens to be this week and we still have another session of our Adventurer Club to attend before we take a two-week break from that…

Looks like learning will happen despite the break from the 3Rs.

The curve ball is the bug my daughter has been fighting for a few days now and which has transferred to my son today.

Speaking of my son, I asked him to sweep the floor after lunch and he did a great job. I still had to sweep a bit after him in places, but he has made a lot of progress since last week. He was proud of what he accomplished. After he missed the trash can though, he got discouraged. He asked me to sweep up the mess. I told him that he was still learning and encouraged him not to give up. He was still negative, but stood there and watched me sweep.

After I cleaned up the trash can area, he came back to me asking me to let him try dumping the dust pan again. He did not miss this time. I felt he was growing right there before my eyes, not just in home ec. skills, but also in attitude towards work and in his self-image.

Work is an important component of the Moore Formula (besides academics and service). I think children learn so much by working and performing chores around the house.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

As I look up, I thank God for every day I am able to stay home and teach the kids.

When we visited their grandmother in the hospital over the weekend (that falls under service, by the way), my son narrated a whole book to her of his own free will – Curious George Gets a Job. (Narration is a Charlotte Mason method.)

Of all the books we have read to him recently, he thought of that one because George broke his leg and had to wear a cast – like grandmother, who fell and broke her leg, and has to wear a cast now.

My daughter sang I’m a Super Sleuth – which she learned in church recently – also of her own free will. Children are so good at comforting others. They are natural at it.

I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with them and teach them and watch them grow and learn.

Homeschooling blesses me just as much as it blesses them. Which is why, when I look up at the sky, I thank God for my life. How did I get to be so lucky?

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How to Homeschool

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Homeschooling is different for every family, but there are six basic approaches or methods:

1. Classical – A child’s brain development naturally sets the stage for the trivium: primary school, or the grammar stage, during which learning is based on concrete tasks and memorizing facts; middle school or the logic stage, during which learning tackles abstract concepts and reasoning from cause to effect; and high school or the rhetoric stage, when learning focuses more on expressing what has already been acquired. This is the method I lean toward heavily.

2. Charlotte Mason – A British educator of the nineteenth century, Ms. Mason is more relevant today than ever, in my opinion. Her emphasis on living books, i.e. regular books (as opposed to textbooks/workbooks), narration, and nature study would bring life into any educational pursuit. I like this approach very much and use it to balance my natural propensity toward rote memorization. Get more information about Charlotte here. Want a free curriculum with a Charlotte Mason approach? Get it here.

3. Unit Studies – The method which took me the most to understand and appreciate, even though I studied under one of its biggest proponents. The Prussian educational method of separating knowledge into subjects, which was used in my public school, had indoctrinated, errr…. trained me well. Once I got unit studies though, I used Before Five in a Row and came to a new level of freedom in my mind about home education. The mother of all unit study curricula is Konos. I find I am not brave enough for it, but it obviously works for a great number of homeschoolers. In conclusion, I use this method sparingly.

4. Traditional – Most of us learned like this in a public school somewhere around the world. Textbooks provide the theory, which you apply while filling out workbooks. Homeschoolers tend to call this method dry and boring, but some children thrive on this. I have a three-year old who asks for worksheets almost every day. Rod and Staff, Abeka and Bob Jones are examples of traditional curricula. Personally, I use Rod and Staff and anything I can find online. There is a vast array of worksheets online. Don’t get overwhelmed.

5. Unschooling – Also known as relaxed homeschooling or delight-based or child-led. I could not be an unschooler, but I like the emphasis on the child’s desire to look into a certain topic. I recognize that the highest point of learning is when a child asks a question. I capitalize on those teaching moments throughout the day. However, I need the structure of a schedule and a carefully laid out curriculum to feel sane.

6. Eclectic – People like me, who pick and choose at least two different methods, curricula and approaches to tailor the education of their children, are called eclectic homeschoolers.

I am leaving out Montessori, Waldorf, independent study, umbrella/charter/online schools and other methods. The best book I have found, which I think any homeschooler should have on their reference shelf, is Cathy Duffy’s “101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum“. The first few chapters explain methods and learning styles. You will walk away with a clearer picture of what your homeschool should be like.

Special note on The Moore Formula

For a balanced education, i.e. one which trains the hand, the heart and the head, taking into consideration a child’s readiness level for formal education, I always keep in mind The Moore Foundation’s philosophy. In fact, it is the overarching method I keep in mind before making any decision in my homeschool.

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