A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

How I Homeschool

on June 11, 2014

As many of you may know, I have been homeschooling for the last five years. During that time, I have researched many homeschooling methods. There are so many of them out there. I have tried to take bits from each and every one of them to create my own eclectic method. Here is what I have taken from each one of them.

Charlotte Mason

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” Mason believed that children should be involved with their education. She felt that the children should learn through immersion, not just sitting and reading a text book. I have put this into my homeschooling. Even though we read textbooks, we also learn by doing. For science, we go outside and really look at nature. For math, we use manipulatives whenever possible. For writing, I have them write in a journal. Mason uses Living Books in her curriculum. That is something I am trying to do more of. I am always on the lookout for good history authors. When my daughter was younger, she loved the Magic Treehouse books. They were ideal. We would read them together and talk about history. Now, we use The History Teachers. Their YouTube channel is full of history lessons set to popular music. I have found my kids singing bits of history many times throughout the week.

Classical

This method emphasizes the Great books of Western Tradition. I have exposed my children to these books. From Homer to Chaucer and from Shakespeare to Twain, we have read and discussed so many of them. Although, we have not even covered half of the list.

Dr. Maria Montessori Method

This method has an emphasis on independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s development. I give the kids a list of subjects and say “Which one do you want to do first?” I allow them to choose from a list of choices. Each student has a list of what needs to be learned that week. They can then choose when they want to do each lesson. They can do all of their math in one day or spread it out over the week. If everything is accomplished early, they get Friday off school. If all their work is not done by Friday at bedtime, they will not have free time during the weekend until it is all finished. Dr. Montessori stressed that children should work in mixed age groups. My daughter is three years older than my son. Yet both of them work together to figure out problems. Both are working from the same math book – Pearson’s Pre-Algebra and Introductory Algebra. My son is stronger at math than my daughter. So, he helps her out with her math. She is stronger at reading so she helps him out with that. I love it that they can both work together. Plus, I just have to teach a subject once and it is done.

Structured

In the beginning, I was very structured in my teaching. We had a set schedule. It was:

  • 8-9 Wake up, eat, chores
  • 9-10 Language Arts
  • 10-1030 Math
  • 1030-1100 MW History, Tuesday Science, Thursday Geography
  • 11-12 Electives (Computer Science, German, Piano, Art, etc.)

We only did this for a year. It was really hard and did not allow any flexibility. Now, I just have a schedule on a week to week basis.

Unit Studies

Unit Studies are a cross-curricular educational approach in which learning is focused around a common, central theme. We have done this with history. The theme/subject was the War of 1812. The kids first read about it in their history book. Then, we watched a YouTube video about it. Then, we listed to the 1812 Overture and the Battle of New Orleans.  For the science portion, we learned about the artillery and ships that were used then. For geography, we looked at various maps of the time. Then, they wrote about what they had learned.

Unschooling

There have been times (especially around holidays and errands) when I just let the kids choose what they want to do. I still have trouble letting them go completely. I still have to set some boundaries. In this respect, I tend to lean more towards Montessori than Unschooling.

Waldorf

The Waldorf Method emphasizes the cooperation instead of competition. We do that in our homeschool. The children work together on so much as a team. For math, they do their work together. Then I make each one of them do a problem on their own – working it out on the board. By doing it as a team first, they encourage each other to find the right answer. Then each one is confident to do the work on his/her own.

We just got out of school a couple of weeks ago. I have already started work on next year. At the end of every year I ask them, “So, do you want to go into public school next year or shall we homeschool another year?” Their answer is always the same “I don’t want to go back to public school. Can we homeschool forever?”

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