Here we go. It all starts now. Homeschooling. What seemed like a pure and natural choice as a pregnant first time mom, is also a huge responsibility and as it turns out it's actually more about me as the teacher than my kids as students! Last night I read "In learning to become better teachers, we actually learn to be the best we can be." (B. Curtis pg. 34) And more importantly 1 Peter 1:15. As I embark on this journey to teach my children at home I recognize that I do not have the luxury of turning school "on" and "off" like children who go to a building to be taught in a school they become programmed to learn within boundaries. Here at home we will not have that limitation, but that also means that I do not get to take a break. Lord please help me as I struggle through becoming more like Christ. As I take the extra time to explain why for the hundredth time, or repeat the same stairs for the sake of repetition, please give me the grace to be graceful, gentle, and wise. Another responsibility is choosing curriculum! Now that we are home together to learn, what are we going to learn from? First, we already focus on creative play. For instance, my 16 month old loves to turn light switches on and off for fun, which unbeknownst to him, he is actually forming his scientific mind! He is learning cause and effect. Now it doesn't help that we have a couple of switches throughout the home that don't do anything... but he is learning how he can manipulate his world. Second, I agree with Charlotte Mason (although I've only learned about her through other people's accounts and I have not yet read anything by her) that children should be children as they learn. I must allow for my kids rhythms and for their physical needs. Third, it's all about Jesus. I can't even be a mom for goodness sake without Him! I need Him to be with me always in order to make it in this life. He will be in our home and therefore a vital part of our school. All of our learning is for His glory. Also we take seriously Deuteronomy 6:7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." Every opportunity to learn is an opportunity to be diligent to understand and work out Deuteronomy 6:5 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might."
Finally, here it is. The plan, curriculum, the setting.
Starting out this fall we are going to be going through both Mommy Teach Me! and Mommy Teach Me to Read! by Barbara Curtis. Curtis was trained in a Montessori Institute and has been teaching children (and now moms too) for decades. These resources are filled with exciting exercises to do with children along with chapters that are just for mom. Very helpful insights are from a biblical perspective and years of experience. Check out Curtis' blog and her Online Resource Companion for both books.
Mommy Teach Me! focuses on 5 Potentials for Joyful Lifelong Learning: Independence, Order, Self Control, Concentration, and Service (B. Curtis pg. 60). Curtis includes a whole chapter (about 40 pages) of exercises to hone these skills (things that both my 16 month old and 36 month old can do). Then Curtis goes on to detail how to train a child in using manipulatives (lacing beads, sewing cards, etc), imaginative play, beginning math, science, geography, fine arts, spiritual life, and beyond! (These listed are also chapters 5-12 in the book.)
Mommy, Teach Me to Read! has something for every stage of development, from birth to seven years. I'm excited to get started reading through and using this resource. Reading is so vital to further learning that I feel the humbling weight of responsibility to teach this to my kids. I know that by loving to read they will more naturally love to learn. I can't wait to share more of this experience with you.
I am also using just the Parent's Companion for Sonlight's Core P3/4 Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun for Little Learners. Here I have chosen to be frugal and I am gathering the curriculum the long way. I chose not to order their package of all the books but to go to the library and to garage sales to gather the books on my own. I agree with Sonlight's Philosophy:
At Sonlight, we believe that homeschooling is a way of life and an overarching attitude toward the world. The world is out there to be marveled at, enjoyed, explored, and learned from. Once you catch on to this idea, you will find it easy to see educational value in almost everything you do.Bible Study will be daily, intentional, and rooted in Deut 6:5-7 as mentioned above, we will use the Praise Baby DVDs, the Jesus Storybook Bible, The Big Picture Story Bible, Seeds Family Worship (major love for these CDs and resources - and a big thank you to Liz Kamper for the suggestion), and review sessions of things learned in Puggles (the take home cards are truly amazing - visually, biblically, and relationally) and other church take-homes. Everything else we study finds its inspiration from this discipline.
I have also purchased other books, materials, and full curriculums to use in the future. But since we aren't ready to use them quiet yet, I'll just list them here and you can look forward to hearing more about them as we dive into them.