Yes! I’ll modify the reply I made in a recent conversation about homeschooling. [name_f]My[/name_f] kids are 2nd-gen, since my husband and I were both homeschooled, but they’re only 4, 2 and 1, so I don’t yet have firsthand experience educating my own “school-age” children. Be warned, I wrote quite an essay
Since my kids were little babies, I’ve tried to intentionally include them in everyday activity and talk them through what we’re doing, both so they’ll feel a part of the family “team” and so they’ll be learning basics. [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] (4) and [name_m]Tobias[/name_m] (2) could both identify their colors long ago. [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] knows all his letters and many of their sounds; [name_m]Tobias[/name_m] knows some of them. Same with numbers. We have digital thermometer displays in our entry and on our oil stove, plus a digital display for volts and amps on our battery bank since we’re off-grid. [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] loves checking them all and so has learned most of his double-digit numbers that way. We sing hymns in church and at home, and he’s learned a lot of 3-digit numbers from the hymnbook. Cooking is good for reading and math, too. [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] likes to ask addition questions.
I have a world map and a US map on the walls in the boys’ room. They ask “What’s that country?” and we say things like “That’s Tanzania, where Mr. [name_u]George[/name_u] and Miss [name_f]Joy[/name_f] have been living. There are giraffes and zebras there…”
The boys don’t have much screen time, but if a science question comes up (“What noises does a hippo make?”) we sometimes Google it and find a YouTube video. Right now they’re into asking “What does this fruit/nut/vegetable grow on?” so we’ve looked up a lot of pictures of trees/vines/bushes.
[name_m]Ransom[/name_m] is not reading independently yet. I haven’t pushed it. He loves to be read to, and we read a lot, especially during the winter when we can’t be outside as much.
A few months ago, I was trying to be consistent with a study of my own, and [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] starting asking to “do schoolwork” (I think he’d been talking to his teenage aunts about their homeschool studies.) I’d also been talking to my husband about how we wanted to progress academically with the boys. So, we now do maybe a 10-20-minute “study and school time” in the mornings. I got out some of the lined handwriting-practice paper my mom passed along to us and started doing a simple drawing at the top, and writing a name or description underneath, using dotted lines so [name_m]Ransom[/name_m] could trace them. We have a giant binder full of aircraft pictures and descriptions, so these days he usually chooses an airplane. (My husband is a pilot and aircraft mechanic.) I sound out the words as I write them, and then he spends a few minutes tracing. He’s starting to form letters independently, during play, and I’ve introduced the idea that there’s a correct way to form each one.
I hope to stay consistent with “study and school time” so that as the kids get older and start doing some more book work, we’ll already have the habit in place and can expand the time as necessary.
[name_f]My[/name_f] parents and my in-laws came to similar conclusions about how they wanted to raise their children. For my dad, school was a square-peg-in-round-hole situation; he hated being told what, when, and how to learn, and he never thrived. [name_f]My[/name_f] mom came from a troubled home and enjoyed school; top of her class, that sort of thing. So for her, it was more the morals of the school system no longer fitting what they wanted for their kids.
[name_f]My[/name_f] mom had us on a pretty flexible schedule, and she chose a fairly eclectic curriculum, rather than doing all “A Beka” as many of her slightly later contemporaries did. (And now the packaged, all-in-one curricula are legion.) But we had textbooks for everything. A Beka science, [name_u]Saxon[/name_u] math (hi @MG1257 ), a couple different histories; Wordly Wise [name_f]English[/name_f] workbooks, a couple different grammars. She started “school” on the first [name_f]Monday[/name_f] in September; we had our assignments every day and were expected to complete them, though we might take [name_m]Friday[/name_m] off to go sledding or [name_f]Monday[/name_f] for a field trip, etc. We finished sometime in [name_f]May[/name_f], typically. If those math books weren’t finished, it was “summer school” for us until they were. [name_m]Math[/name_m] was very important to her. She read to us a lot; we had bedtime stories for years. We all took music lessons, and some of us still play. We were expected to finish twelfth grade, but so far none of us have been to college. It was talked about as an option “if we needed it.” I became an artist and art teacher, giving private lessons and selling my work in my dad’s studio and a few other places. In the couple years before I was married, I started traveling more and taking my portfolio to galleries. I have a few paintings in a gallery in Cincinnati. I’m still teaching a few lessons, trying to keep my hand in while the kids are little and planning to pursue that route afresh as they get older. One brother is curator of a local art gallery/museum; one is pursuing filmmaking while funding it with all sorts of odd jobs, carpentry, etc. The third owns his own rain gutter installation business with a couple employees. One sister is a seamstress (with her own online shop) and music teacher, one is a part-time nanny, part-time barista at the moment.
In a family of friends who were raised similarly, several of the sons did attend college. One is a PA, two are electrical engineers. One of the daughters earned a business degree after her marriage.
[name_f]My[/name_f] mother-in-law was even more scheduled; she sat my husband and his siblings down on school days and kept up with the clock. “10 o’clock, time for math. Ok, it’s 10:45, now it’s time for science.” He was a whiz at academics till he lost interest in around 9th grade and wanted to go learn to fly. And they let him. His dad could take apart and reassemble anything mechanical, so the kids grew up working on cars and farm equipment. [name_f]My[/name_f] husband rebuilt several vehicles as a teen.
So, coming from that background, what we want for our kids is mainly the same freedom from both the moral influence of the current public school climate, broadly speaking, which doesn’t align very well with our values; and the restricted learning environment, with its testing schedule and over-many workbooks.
What I would like to do a little differently is to try to keep the curiosity and the love of learning that I see in my kids right now. They ask so many questions. They want to know so many things. They want to do big things. I don’t at all resent how I was raised and taught, but I lost that somewhere in the grove of textbooks growing up. I looked at the algebra and sentence diagramming and irritably demanded when in life I was going to need those things.
It’s especially important to my husband that the kids develop self-discipline and a good work ethic, which is one of the reasons I’m doing the morning “study and school time” and intend to expand it as they grow, rather than going full-on unschooling. I see myself trying a few textbooks in a couple of years, especially for math, and working more intentionally on handwriting in the next year.
Some things I’ve read that have been influential:
• The Well-Trained Mind, by [name_u]Jessie[/name_u] Wise and [name_f]Susan[/name_f] Wise [name_m]Bauer[/name_m] (it was fairly recently that I went through it purposefully. I have friends who have their kids in Classical Conversations co-ops, which use this classical model*)
• Creating a Better [name_m]Brain[/name_m] Through Neuroplasticity, by [name_f]Debi[/name_f] [name_f]Pearl[/name_f] (you don’t have to subscribe to the Pearls’ whole child-training philosophy to find value in this, though you may find the Bible references tedious if you don’t believe in some sort of [name_u]Christian[/name_u] framework)
• I haven’t read him extensively, but I like what I’ve seen of the blog [name_u]Stark[/name_u] Raving Dad and his Life Without School podcast. There was a recent episode where he turned around the questions people ask homeschoolers all the time and applied them to parents who send their kids to public school.
• Austin [name_m]Kleon[/name_m] is a favorite author of mine (I have his books, Steal Like [name_u]An[/name_u] [name_u]Artist[/name_u], Show Your Work! and Keep Going.) His boys are in school, but he admires the unschooling mindset, and I’ve greatly enjoyed browsing his “unschooling” tags, particularly the writing of [name_u]John[/name_u] [name_m]Holt[/name_m]: Austin Kleon (Posts tagged unschooling)
Austin Kleon — John Holt, How Children Learn Children do not...
*We don’t intend to put our kids in Classical Conversations; we’ve joked that it sounds too much like “real school”; but I appreciate several things about it. I like the educational songs, which make memorization so much easier; and I like the logical step-by-step of the classical model. I find the moms who love CC most are the ones who are most concerned about their kids “keeping up” and “learning everything they should.”