Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thoughts on homeschooling...

I have recently joked with a homeschooling mom who has been homeschooling many more years than I have, that "this year we're getting serious!". She laughed and stated that she says that every year, and she has some that are now teens. The truth is, her children are doing very well, and have benefitted greatly from home instruction. I am technically moving into my 5th year of homeschooling. I still feel like it is my first year when we begin each fall. There is just so much to learn! There is also so much out there to choose from that it can be quite overwhelming! I just got done pouring through a huge stack of homeschooling catalogs that I should have looked through 2 yrs. ago! There are hundreds of homeschool curriculums, and companies out there. There are conventions, on line resources, and so much more. Here where we live there are co-ops, support groups, used curriculum sales, homeschool gymnastic classes, homeschool PE, and much more. I can't do it all, so I try to pick and choose carefully. I recently attended our large statewide homeschool convention in Puyallup, Wa. It took all day just to see all of the vendors and to narrow your focus down to one curriculum is almost impossible. That's why I have chosen at this point and time to use various approaches, books and resources. I also have done a lot of research and reading on the Charlotte Mason method, and have begun to use her approach in our homeschool. To learn more about who the british educator, Charlotte Mason was, go here .
Her philosophies drew me in right away, and I have to say they work. One of the most important aspects I have learned in implementing the Charlotte Mason method in our home is that of living books. She very much encourages using books to educate your children, but not dull textbooks. A living book is a whole book that is living in the sense that it is written by a single author who shares personally his favorite subject with us, and we pick up on his enthusiasm. The way to test whether or not a book is a living book is to pick up a book, turn to any page and start reading it to your child. If their interest is peaked, and when you stop they really want to hear more, that is a living book. Living books should be carefully chosen, wholesome, and interesting to your child. I can tell you that M, age 7, can't get enough of books. I can barely keep up with her to supply her love of reading. She reads many books each week, and is reading well above her grade level. I am working hard at stocking up on enough books for her for this upcoming school year, plus we will visit the library often.

I now have to get my subjects and classes in order and organized. There is a lot to do, but it is also so exciting. It is so great to be a part of your childs learning and growing on a daily basis. And, you may wonder about socialization...this is usually the first concern I hear from people when they find out that we homeschool. Socialization is the farthest concern from my mind. Homeschoolers have so many opportunities for social activities, this area can also be quite overwhelming. M just went to a birthday party of one of her homeschooled friends, she has gone to a couple of day camps this summer where she spent time with lots of little friends, she goes to a co-op, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, play dates, Awana, field trips, church, and more. It's actually a little too much. The great thing is that when you are a homeschooling family you always know who your children are socializing with, and this is also a great benefit. I have heard this from homeschooling parents who now have adult children, and this is one of the things they greatly appreciated about homeschooling.

One thing I have come to realize is that homeschooling is an atmosphere, and it is a lifestyle. It becomes so much more than just teaching your children. There are so many blessings that have come from it that I never expected. It is something I do not take for granted. L will officially be starting homeschool this year as a preschooler, and she is so ready! I look forward to the upcoming school year with anticipation, and will share occasionally about what the girls are working on and how their year is going.

3 comments:

This Country Girl said...

Michelle,

Learning really is an atmosphere! And I know exactly what you mean about "getting serious" but then life just happens and everything progresses naturally and your kids are still learning and even thriving. It's amazing, isn't it? And I love the gentle learning style of Charlotte Mason. It's the technique we've always followed and it's why I love Sonlight so much.....those living books are fabulous! Homeschooling is definitely a blessing!

Have a great week!
Tammy

Mandy in Mayberry said...

I'm drawn to the Charlotte Mason method also. We are big readers and we learn so much using that method! I can't wait to get started back this fall!

Homeschooling is truly a blessing!

Jennifer said...

I am encouraged by your post, Michelle. I've really been dragging my feet this year in getting ready for school - I am, in fact, procrastinating on planning for school by being on the computer tonight - but your enthusiasm is contagious!