Our Homeschooling journey thus far has been fraught with insecurity, mostly based on my own lack of knowledge when it comes to styles of homeschooling. Whenever I saw blogs touting ‘charlotte mason’ or ‘TWTM’ or ‘unschooling’, I quietly glazed over, thinking I could do the homeschool thing without needing a particular ideology to start from.
I was so wrong.
While I was lucky (and smart) to decide to begin my homeschooling journey via a DL school (distributed learning, and ours is youlearn.ca!), it hasn’t sparked my own learning, or excitement. The fact of the matter is that the supplies they give out to public school teachers are straight up NOT interesting or exciting, and the teachers are left to make it so. Since I wanted to be a homeschool success story, it left me searching for things to add to my daughters sparse kindergarten curriculum that would enthral her and keep her interested. So, I started reading some short reviews of books, of styles, and began to figure out where we fit in.
Our main philosophy is ‘unschooling’, which is essentially the idea that learning is spontaneous and inspired by a child’s own interests. Leaving out ample materials in the house for arts or perking interests, going on lots of outings and field trips, and making every moment a learning experience is the name of the game (like making bread, and having my little one measure and pour the ingredients, and talk about yeast as a leavening agent, eg.). This is how adults learn, and I want to cultivate that natural curiousity.
There are lots of things that are IMPORTANT, that need to be learned, that I don’t think unschooling is successful at doing. Grammar. Or Math. Practicing piano. Things that require discipline BEYOND curiousity; things that will reap rewards for a lifetime, but may not be fun or engaging long term. This is where I found my deep, enduring love for ‘The Well Trained Mind’, which is classical homeschooling. Classical, in that it focusses on studying the classics in order to see into the human condition. TWTM kids study in a way that raises children to reflect on their world in an intelligent and logical way (they even study logic and latin! SQUEE!). History /literature is studied in chronological 4 year cycles (ancients through to modern era), with the depth and breadth of the content getting more complex every cycle. Charlotte Mason also ties into TWTM (they’re both classical education), in that both styles use the idea of ‘living books’ (like, books you actually want to read) to teach the subject matter. Who has ever wanted to read a textbook? My university texts made excellent paperweights! TWTM is also just an excellent reference book for material and curriculum planning, as they review a HUGE selection of textbooks/workbooks, and even have day to day and yearly plans for your home school.
TWTM really loves literature and history and math, at the cost of music and art. Since I am a musician (one who actually makes a living!), I can’t abide by my child looking at an art picture once a week and talking about it, or only practicing her instrument every so often. This is where I love Waldorf. Waldorf is a little (well, a LOT) more hippy dippy than classical or unschooling education. Rudolf Steiner is the figurehead of this style of learning, and I honestly cannot get behind anthropomorphism (his made-up way of viewing the world). HOWEVER, I DO love their focus on handcrafts, on art, nature, and on expressing the soul through music and dance. I can already see that my daughter is artsy-fartsy like her mother, and loves creating arts/crafts/painting/anything she can get her hands on. We do art daily, and do a focussed nature walk once a week ( I’ve been using this book and this book as sources, and LOVE them!). Felting, knitting, and weaving are all on the ‘to learn’ list for this upcoming year!
I have a feeling that the Charlotte Mason style is actually all of these things tied into one, but I haven’t had enough time to read her books yet *weep!*. So I guess this post is…
..to be continued!!!