When I think of the word “growth,” one of the first things that comes to mind is shopping for new shoes. Of all things, I think kids must grow out of their shoes several times during a year, or at least it seems that way. And if they aren’t growing out of them, the shoes are bursting at the seams from outdoor activities and constant wear.
Teaching your children at home is not much different. Until you find the best method for your family, you’ll need to be willing to grow and change. Sometimes, it seems like you’ll never find the right one. You just need to keep shopping until you do!
When I officially started home schooling our oldest back in 2000-2001 school year, I was expecting our oldest daughter and not really sure I’d be able to do this “home school thing.” A friend pointed me in the direction of Christian Liberty Academy (CLA), a satellite school. I don’t think there were very many satellite schools like CLA at the time but now there are several.
The satellite or online school is a great way to go if it fits your budget and you feel you need the extra help. They send you all the books and materials. If you have a reliable internet connection, your student can learn through an online classroom. The school keeps a report card or similar record of the grades so you know how your student is progressing. We used the satellite school method until our son finished 1st grade.
For 2nd grade, we needed a change to fit our budget. We bought our materials from CLA but I no longer sent my tests away for grading. I did all that work myself. I did notice he didn’t like the books very much, but he did the work.
For 3rd grade, we allowed him to attend a public school. When we had to move in the middle of that school year, we started home schooling again. This time, I was completely on my own. But by now, I had a better knowledge of what lesson plans were like, how to keep good records and a decent computer to keep all that information in. I also discovered there were other methods of teaching besides sticking them in a chair at the table all day.
Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and end at death.” I believe he was right. Consider for a moment how much your child learns from the time they are born until they reach the age of 5. Consider how they learn those things. They don’t write. They don’t read. They are learning through things like trial and error, or music, or hearing a story. We are constantly learning throughout the course of our lives. To make a child learn in a way that doesn’t fit their personality teaches them to hate learning, and by extension, to hate life. We needed a change, not only to improve the mood of learning in our home, but to increase the love of learning.
I started reading aloud to our children regularly when our son was old enough to understand the words. It’s a great way to take a break from the routine, or even for calming down at the end of the day. If you choose the books well, they not only entertain but teach. I knew that, but around the year 2009 or 2010, I heard about the Charlotte Mason Method. It blew my mind that you could teach so many subjects from well-written literature.
There is also such a thing called ‘interest based learning.’ The student chooses a topic of interest and the parent finds books and activities related to that topic which teach the different subjects. Unit studies and notebooking fall under this category. Notebooking never worked for us. I found out about it too late to really get the benefit from using it in our classroom. Unit studies do, though, and I use them whenever possible.
Unschooling is a method I never considered for our family. I don’t think it’s a good fit for us but I do believe it works for some. The home school naysayers truly hate this method, but they don’t really approve of any method in which children learn at home. When that happens, point them to this quote from John F. Kennedy:
We now use a blend of text books and Charlotte Mason Method. I teach literature, history, and sometimes science as joint courses for both our daughters. I simply assign homework and activities which are appropriate to their ages and abilities. Just enough to nudge forward without frustrating them is my goal. Sometimes I hit the goal and sometimes I miss it but we’re still walking the path of the Magniflorious Home School Life.
Just remember, you are not alone. Chances are good there’s another home school family nearby who can answer questions or point you in the right direction. Also consider searching for home school organizations in your area. This type of group provides excellent opportunities for field trips, group activities, co-ops and socialization. So if you think you can’t do this “home school thing,” then please think about it one more time before giving up on it completely.
Also, verses 3-5 are the conclusion and full of good stuff, if you’d like to read on.