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My husband and I were both homeschooled, and now it’s our turn to homeschool our crew. Neither my husband or I have ever gone to public school (at least, not until community college and university). That puts us at a huge advantage for weaving education into life, because our parents did the hard work of de-schooling their approach. I don’t remember what class it was for or why I picked the topic, but in college I ended up writing a research paper on classical education in a homeschool setting. I interviewed a teacher at Logos School who homeschooled his own children, and that conversation made me realize I had no idea what I was stepping into. I wrote the paper, but it only left me feeling completely ignorant about the topic. That was not acceptable, so from then on, before my husband and I were even married, I was a classical education research hobbyist. I found Cindy Rollins when my oldest was a toddler and read Norms and Nobility, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, and Poetic Knowledge with her online book clubs before we ever started “real school” (in my mind, that’s third grade).
Finding myself with actual small children of my own, I repented of my early-twenties’ arrogance that my mom’s “better late than early” Moore-inspired approach was lacking and lazy. A year or two into Morning Time and Math-U-See and read-alouds, we repented of our early-twenties’ attempt to launch an ACCS classical school. I was not going to give up this amazing life of learning alongside my children, exhausting and demanding as it was.
We now have five kids, a boy aged 15, a boy aged 12, a girl aged 10, a boy aged 8, and a girl aged 5. I’m in my thirties and we’ve been homeschooling for ten years (if you count year 1 as the first year of regular phonics lessons). After investing my idealistic twenties into educational philosophy and reading dozens of amazing education books, now I find it’s time to stop (only) thinking and writing about it and actually flesh it out in real life.
So, what does it look like to actually put these principles we’ve been talking about into practice? What do these principles look like with real people in a real home?
It looks different in every family, but here’s what it looks like in ours.
It is always worthwhile to think through why you are doing what you are doing – before you do it if possible. Principles, not efficiency or expediency, are the best foundation.
Education is not a subject and it does not deal in subjects. It is instead the transfer of a way of life. – G.K. Chesterton
We have used Math-U-See all the way through with each student. Currently I have students ranging from Primer to Algebra 2. To review or drill we have also used xtramath.org, Calculadder, and Khan Academy.
Click here to find my posts about math.
Morning Time is an integral part of language development in our house, but in addition, we heavily emphasize correct usage, clear communication, and wide reading. All these are a way of life, not limited to school subjects or school hours.
Language lessons begin with phonics with an out-of-print basic vertical phonics program called Teach America to Read and Spell (it is similar to Spell to Read & Write, but simpler). For spelling we have used copywork, Sequential Spelling, and Spelling Wisdom. In third or fourth grade we begin Latin with Children, but after all three levels are complete the student is free to choose his own language to study. I begin teaching writing between 9-10 years old with a modified IEW method; my goal is to get them capable of writing (well) as part of their learning in other subjects and not as a separate subject - but always with a revision, every time. In middle school we move to 5-paragraph thesis-driven essays that flesh out our literature or history studies.
Click here for all my posts on language arts.
During Morning Time we read and memorize Scripture devotionally and prayerfully, but I believe there is also value in catechizing our children and ensuring they know their Bibles so they are not swayed by every wind of doctrine.
We memorize The Catechism for Young Children and select portions of the Heidelberg Catechism in Morning Time and also in preschool "couch lessons." For elementary students I rely primarily on the Coventantal Catechism series by Rev. Van Dyken, although we have also used The Young Peacemaker, books by Starr Meade, and, with an older crowd, The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung. In 7th & 8th grade, my sons have worked independently through a study of Scripture using Starr Meade's The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study.
Click here to find all my posts on biblical instruction.
History is not merely a set of names and dates we should know, but the story of mankind that began in the Garden and will end (not really) when Jesus returns to judge the living and the dead. Not only history, but art, music, and literature teach us about ourselves, our people, our culture, our God, and our need for a Savior.
If starting with a crowd mostly 8-and-under, I love Hillyer's A Child's History of the World for a historical overview that will delight and educate mom as well as the kids. We have also used history read alouds by M.B. Synge, Christine Miller, and Susan Wise Bauer. In addition, our shelves provide a vast array of biographies and books on particular periods or topics of interest. In the upper years we have used The Ancient Mediterranean by Michael Grant, Churchill's History of the English-Speaking People, A History of the American People by Paul Johnson, and From Dawn to Decadence by Jaques Barzun.
Click here to see my posts about the humanities in our homeschool.
The first goal of science study is not factual information but feeding wonder and interest and curiosity. The second goal is to see the voyage of discovery that science is and has been; that is, to see scientific discovery and innovation in its historical context. Finally, the study of science should include doing science, which first and foremost means careful observation, not amusing activities.
Click here to see my posts about science in our homeschool.
The most important piece of our day is not a subject. Morning Time is the most important part of our day, but it is not really a subject. It is a practice.
We also do piano lessons with an emphasis on accompaniment, outdoor play, and limited organized activities (including sports and supplemental co-ops). Almost all reading outside of scheduled subject reading above is "free reading" - done for fun, pleasure, and life.
If education gives us the ability to use our leisure well, our children must have some to practice with.
Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are not subjects.
This is the heart of a good education: a small but well-chosen library, a place to sit and study, some friends to do it with, and the time and tranquility to do it in. – Wes Callihan
- How to Start Morning Time
- Morning Time: Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real, Exhausting
- Morning Time Resources
- Better Together by my friend Pam Barnhill
Education is the nurture and development of the whole man for his proper end. – R.L. Dabney
What preschool and kindergarten looks like for the oldest versus subsequent siblings is definitely different, because with younger siblings, learning and reading and all that is happening around them and they soak up a lot. It might take you a few tries to find a good fit – don’t feel like you have to have all the details and schedule ironed out perfectly before you begin. Pull a few things together, give it a shot, and it’s learning by doing from then on as to what will work for you.
- Teaching a Child to Walk, to Use the Bathroom, and to Read
- Homeschooling Preschool & Kindergarten: Philosophy
- Open Doors
Click here to find all posts relating to the early years.
The goal of the elementary years (roughly 7-11yo) is to fling wide the doors of interest and cultivate the habit of attention. In addition to skill-based work like math and handwriting, we read lots of good books on a wide array of topics. You might peg some as history, science, geography, or literature, but the point is that the exposure is consistent, cheerful, and broad.
- Our Elementary-Level Mini Co-Op
- 3 Kinds of Dawdlers & What to Do with Them
- What Worked & Didn't Work This Year
Click here to find all posts relating to the elementary years.
The middle school years are transition years, and that makes them rocky at times. As mothers we want independence to look like easier days for us, and it turns out easier is what they want independence to mean, too. Expectations will collide. Hang on, hold the line, hold on to your child, and weather the storms of puberty. Be impervious.
- Middle School Boys Are Persons, Too
- When your kid says, "I hate math!"
- What worked & didn't work with middle school boys this year
Click here to find all posts relating to middle school.
We have only begun our own high school journey, so I will refrain from comment at this point. So far, however, so good. ?
Click here to find all posts relating to homeschooling high school.
Yearly Homeschool Specifics
The end of education is not thinking; it is acting. It is not just knowing what to do; it is doing it. – David Hicks, Norms and Nobility
In 2017, my oldest started high school and my youngest started phonics. Click here to find all posts related to the 2017-2018 school yearOverview | 9th grade | 7th grade | 4th & 2nd graders | Elementary Lessons Co-op | pre-k | Morning Time | Weekly Schedule
Real Life Report
Overview | 8th grade | 6th grade | 3rd & 2nd | Morning Time
Real Life Reports
Overview | 7th grade | 5th grade | 2nd grade | Morning Time
Real Life Reports
Real Life Reports
Real Life Reports
Curriculum is not the boss, you are.
Education is the process of selling someone on books. – Douglas Wilson