When I wrote that most recent post on homeschooling, I said that classical homeschooling (based on The Well Trained Mind) was too challenging for me. Too intimidating.
But I have since picked up the book again, and now that I have another year of homeschooling nearly under my belt, I am reading it with new eyes. And I am inspired.
I am very excited to embrace a much more challenging curriculum for the boys next year, for second grade. We have purchased her history book and LOVE it, and we also purchased her grammar book, and are enjoying that as well.
My biggest anxiety at this point is about maintaining all our gains over the summer. But when it comes to Year 4 of home schooling (preschool + kindergarten + 1st Grade & heading into 2nd Grade) I feel confident in following the advice of Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer.
For those of you unfamiliar with the tenets of CLASSICAL EDUCATION, it is:
1) Language Focused: learning is accomplished through words, written & spoken, rather than through images.
2) Follows a specific three-part pattern:
a) the mind is supplied with facts
b) the mind is then given logical tools for organizing those facts
c) the mind is eventually equipped to express conclusions
3) The belief that all knowledge is interrelated: nothing is studied in isolation.
I love that they push "exposure" not "mastery" at this young age: "Encourage your child toward absorption in grades 1 through 4, critical thought in grades 5 through 8, and expression in grades 9 through 12." It takes some of the pressure off, and just allows me to put information out there for them to absorb.
For next year I plan to incorporate character trait training (2 per month) and letter writing as part of our curriculum. I also want to start sign language with them. We will pick up new spelling & handwriting curriculum per The Well Trained Mind's recommendation.
We will continue reading chapter books & history every morning, but instead of doing a daily journal, we will start Daily Oral Language. I'd also love to find some good art curriculum to introduce them to famous artists and let them try their hands at different mediums.
I still want to read Charlotte Mason, which is on my shelf, but the classical is fitting my picture of homeschooling so perfectly, that I am going to finish that ginormous book first. (Serious. It's over 800 pages!)
Another book that inspired me recently is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It is a fascinating look at the factors that contribute to success and had a lot of concrete ideas I can apply to our homeschooling days. For example, it inspired me to really take my time with math, and not rush them when they're working out a problem.
I also read David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. It discusses the advantages of being disadvantaged, also fascinating when it comes to educating my children and helping them through life's struggles.
The most important part of classical education, is developing in your children a love of reading. So everyday, many times a day, we pick up books. There are books in the bathroom, books in the playroom, the living room, their bedroom and my bedroom. They are literally everywhere. We read at least four times a day. In the morning during history & read aloud; during school; during quiet reading time; and at bedtime. The boys see both Josh and myself reading for pleasure throughout the week, and they are just now getting to where when they are bored, they will often pick up a book to read. It makes my homeschooling-mama heart sing!
Josh tested them last weekend, doing the STAR test for reading fluency. Given the month and grade they are in (the eighth month of first grade), they should be at a 1.8 reading level. They were at 2.3 and 2.4! I was elated! I am doing something right, and it feels so good!