Because of my personality, I have consistently used a variety of methods to teach the children. Currently, the methods I am using, for teaching my two boys, is composed of Classical – Partial Unschooling – Charlotte Mason – Traditional(CPUCMT). Obviously, I made that up, yet it describes our own unique style of home education. It can be helpful to individuals who are considering this path for their family, to hear how other parents take on the task of educating their children. These are just four possibilities, there are other options to explore, but these are the ones that work for our family.
The Classical model intimidated me until I realized that I was practicing certain aspects of this method. “Classical Homeschooling involves teaching based on the three stages of learning, the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and the Rhetoric stage. The Grammar stage involves learning facts, memorization and knowledge gathering. The Logic stage is when reasoning and logic begin to be applied to the knowledge. The Rhetoric stage is when the student learns the skills of wisdom and judgement,” (www.thehomeschoolmom.com). Latin, fits into the classical genre, is something that many homeschoolers study, but it is a subject that I avoided, until recently. I understood the value of learning Latin, yet as a mother of four children under the age six, I was too tired to pursue learning it myself in order to teach it to them. Now, a tutor comes to our home once a week and teaches Latin to Tad and John. Part of their school day includes Latin home work. It fits into all three classical stages with memorization, reasoning, and judgement.
As a mother, I experience days when I feel out-numbered and overwhelmed with the tasks of teaching and managing a home. Predictably any ambition and plans for the day are altered. Then I discovered that my children continued to learn anyway. It is an educational method known as partial unschooling instead of unschooling. There are “parents who, quite sensibly, cannot fully resign themselves to trust a child to possess the innate ability to completely direct their own education. These parents do not follow a rigidly defined curriculum, instead the children are taught subjects they think are essential and still give them freedom to pursue their own interests as is possible,” (Gail S Withrow, www.hometaught.com).
Recently, John, at his initiative, was reading a booklet about Vikings. I had no initial intention of John studying Vikings. Many books have been collected and added to our shelves and there happened to be three books on the topic. John read two of them and for the next week and a half, he told me everything that he had learned. This type of self-study has been common throughout our learning adventure. Other topics include creating with Legos©, knitting, goat husbandry, baking, making shelters in the woods, the U.S. Civil War, tide pools, boat building, whatever they found interesting. Partial unschooling means freedom to roam and explore their surroundings, adding to a memory filled childhood.
After reading the homeschool laws for our state, I learned that all subjects are repeated at the high school level and credited toward a diploma. The two subjects that the children do three to four days a week are math and language studies (reading comprehension, writing, spelling, and penmanship). These two subjects build, as well as music and artistic skill, on themselves, as levels are mastered. In the book My Learning Adventure Begins – A Homeschooling Story, the little boy is taught a different subject each day of the week. For example, in our family, science may be emphasized one day, while history holds a minor role and vice versa. Currently, science in emphasized on Tuesday, History on Thursday and projects on Friday. Sometimes it means foregoing other school subjects when my child is absorbed in a project and to interrupt would spoil the focus. I didn’t realize that we were practicing a particular educational method, specifically the Charlotte Mason Method.
The “Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling uses rich literature and ‘living books’ rather than textbooks or dumbed-down twaddle. Charlotte was a British educator in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who emphasized respecting each child as a person and giving him a broad education. This approach works with the way a child naturally learns. It uses methods that will nurture a love for learning and reinforce good lifelong habits, not just present a body of knowledge,” (www.simplycharlottemason.com).
The Charlotte Mason method emphasizes reading “living books.” These types of books are ones written by an author who writes in a conversational or narrative style about a subject he is passionate about. These books involve the readers emotions, making it easier to remember the events and facts that are presented in the story. The story comes alive. This is an advanced writing technique currently taught in colleges. Reading aloud has been a mainstay in our homeschool day. Although, my older children prefer to read their own books at their own pace.
On the first day of homeschooling my daughter, I taught her from the only model that I really knew because it was how I was taught. I was educated in a classroom. “Traditional homeschooling has separate textbooks and workbooks for the various school subjects. Assigned chapters in the textbook and questions are answered about the content. Workbooks contain fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions,” (www.simplycharlottemason.com). Standardized tests are taken and graded. Various textbooks grace our bookshelves. One daughter liked filling in the blanks of a workbook. She liked the order, the feeling of accomplishment. It helped her to piece together her own thoughts. Filling in the blanks didn’t work well with the others children.
An aspect of CPUCMT occurs nearly every homeschooling day. It is not cumbersome rather the day is free flowing, flexible, yet it has a structure of its own. The children know what they will be learning for that day or week. Our school time takes place in the morning hours. We aim to begin by 9:00, but there are days when the desired start time is delayed. Typically, we finish around the noon hour. However, there is an exception, Tad’s academic load is higher because he is in high school.
Over the years, our family dynamic has changed, the school day is now different compared to how it was in the beginning. The toddlers and babies have grown up which means certain distractions are no longer a factor. On more than one occasion, a Hookham baby has upset the peaceful school setting, to crawl across the table right through math and writing projects, before he could be apprehended. Laughter came after our initial surprise!
It is not my intention for you to copy what we do, rather, just incorporate any ideas that you believe would be beneficial to your family’s lifestyle and your child’s learning style. You may be the type of parent who prefers to use one teaching style and purchase the package curriculum that supports your choice. I enjoy hearing from those who are purists to one particular method and stay with it. The point is, the best method of homeschooling is the one that works you and your family.
I encourage you to follow your heart and gut feeling in regards to the style of home education that best suits your family’s lifestyle, how your child learns, your budget and spiritual beliefs. If your educational method gives you peace, then you know you are on the right adventure.