Monday, April 20, 2009

The List (Also, A Relatively Long Winded Explanation Of Our Educational Philosophy).

After months and months of research (most of which probably could have avoided but I kindof like doing it so whatever), I have finally finalized our homeschool curriculum for this coming fall. You wouldn't think picking out curriculum for a Kindergartener would be so hard (I didn't at first) but there are just so many, many options and ways to teach things that it can be a little overwhelming to pick just a few. There are tons of "styles" of homeschooling, there are eighteen thousand different ways to teach a kid to read, and everyone and their mother has an opinion on what subjects are appropriate to teach and in what order.

I've been totally paralyzed by all the choices the past few months and I was pretty sure that I was never going to be able to pick anything until one day a random book I had reserved at the library came in and completely made the process easy for me. The book is called The Well Trained Mind: A Guide To Classical Education At Home by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer.

Um, wow. First of all, whenever I had read about Classical homeschoolers I always thought they sounded stuffy and prissy "Ooohh, We'll be starting Latin I as soon as Johnny starts first grade mwah mwah mwah". And I sat there and thought that they were nuts, Johnny would never need Latin, what a dumb idea.

Until I read this book.

And now I'm all "Of course we'll be doing Latin! I find Latin to be such a useful tool!" (By the way, please hit me if I start sounding like a useful tool.)

Anyways, after reading this book (and going over the high points with Dave, who isn't a big researcher but is a much better long term decision maker than I), Dave and I have decided that we are going to be Classical Homeschoolers. What it basically boils down to is this (a highlight from the book):

"Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium. ...The classical education is, above all, systematic -- in direct contrast to the scattered, unorganized nature of so much secondary education. This systematic, rigorous study has two purposes. Rigorous study develops virtue in the student. Aristotle defined virtue as the ability to act in accordance to what one knows to be right. The virtuous man (or woman) can force himself to do what he knows to be right, even when it runs against his inclinations. The classical education continually asks a student to work against his baser inclinations (laziness, or the desire to watch another half hour of TV) in order to reach a goal -- mastery of a subject. "

I know it sounds completley boring and dry and way over the top for a Kindergartener, but if you read the book I think you'll become a believer. It really made Dave and I think hard about what kind of education we want to give our kids, and to realize that we really do want to give them an education not just the ability to test well, or to memorize, or to get along with 30 kids the exact same age. It's really easy to get wrapped up in the shiny boxes and books of curriculum and flash cards and manipulatives and forget that you have a goal. And I know that at this early in the game, it seems silly to have such a serious goal. But just as you must start parenting your child so that they become a mature Christian - able to make wise choices, you must start educating your child so that they become able to educate themselves. It's important to me that our kids are able to read and understand and come to their own conclusions - not just parrot back what someone gives them.

So in the end, our choosing an educational philosophy helped me weed out those curriculums that were not in line with what Dave and I want our kids to learn. It's small potatoes at this point, I mean, we're really just working on Reading, Phonics, Math & Science, but I feel like we'll do well with these and I am actually pretty geeked about getting started.

Here's the stats, yo:

Tot (Kindergarten) -

Reading - How To Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons

Phonics - Explode The Code (Get Ready, Get Set, Go For The Code & maybe Book 1, depending on Tot's grasp of the subject)

Math - Math U See (Primer)

Science - Living Learning Books (Level 1)

Little David (Preschool) -

Rod & Staff Preschool ABC Series

So there you have it - our stab at beginning a "Classical" education for the chitlins. Here in the next few weeks, I'll be making final decisions on schedules and such and finishing up buying curriculum (I've already purchased the reading and math books and got CRAZY good deals - for those of you famililar with Math U See, um wow. Craigslist rocks.) and I'll probably post about how I'm going to wrap up this preschool year, how I plan to schedule around Baby Girl's arrival, and what our basic schedule will be for next year. So, stay tuned for that, yo.

Also, I really should put quotes around the word "schedule" because I'm sure there will be plenty of balls in the air while I adjust to life with number three.

Oh, and on a totally similar note, I think I've found my dream planner.

But that is a whole 'nother post.


Tiffany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiffany said...

(Something wonky happened when I tried to post my comment, so I'm re-doing it.)

DUDE -- I didn't know that there were books out there abou a Classical curriculum for homescholing. You KNOW I'm all about that!

I'm going to go ahead and call dibs on all (ALL) of your materials. You name the price. We should be ready for it after you're done with your three, so it will all work out perfectly. (See? It was meant to be.)

And also, at the risk of souding like that crazy woman in the Cheetos commercial -- you know the one: "...But where he's really excelling is Mandarian. MANDARIN!") TEACH YOUR KIDDOS LATIN!!!! I'm not just saying this as a person whose MA is in Classics. The way that Latin is structured with its declensions is absolutely fundamental in how a person thinks about language and makes learning all other foreign languages, as well as mastering the use of one's native tongue, infinitely easier. I seriously cannot stress this enough. DO IT. You will not be sorry. Plus, you'll start to think of language differently yourself as you study it, which is always good for a writer.

I am SO excited for you!!!!!

(And that "dibs" thing stands.)

taralynn819 said...

And really, isn't the end goal of parenting to produce Christlike, self-sufficient kingdom builders? I will look into this when we have school age kids!

Beth said...

There is a neat article in this months Homeschooling today. Its an article about Seasons of our lives, and how this time that you and I are in is the Spring time of our parenting, where we are laying the seeds and preparing the plants for their Summer.
Good job on the research, I think I will be calling on you in a couple of years!

JRandDaisha said...

I've always wanted to know more latin than the stuff I picked up in choral music.

Now you're making me re-think NOT homeschooling.

Sarah said...

Since my friend STACEY GUYSE won't come out of the shadows and is continuing to blogstalk you (haha), UK, I'll let you know what she said to me...

"tell her she is funny and she picked EXCELLENT homeschool curriculum. Excellent."

(She's a teacher, so she would know...)

So there ya go, Stacey...I outed you. :-)