I have done it, again. I overwhelmed one of my dear friends by sharing my experience of fifteen years plus of teaching, at one sitting. Please accept my apology my dear T. One…more…time… And with feelings, this time.
There are only two things I feel the need to mention about home-schooling before we start:
- it is NOT school in your home. Because your goal is to educate your children. That implies learning. Children learn all the time regardless of space or time. They love to discover. As such, the main goal in educating children is to support and develop their innate thirst for discovery and learning. There is no need to teach them that.
- Learn to decompress and slow-down to their speed. Little ones know how to really enjoy life. Take the time to “smell the roses”, wade in the lake, pick flowers and discover the world around you through their untarnished eyes.
Let me walk you through one of our days, long ago.
It is time for bed. Gather your little ones around you and read from their little Bible. Allow each of them to choose several favorites. Then, when the reading is done, kneel together and pray to our Lord, Lady and their favorite saints.
Once the little ones are asleep, spend no more than an hour preparing for the next day (remember that you need the strength to walk, run and play alongside your children).
I still check on three things before I turn in for the night:
- dishes: I like my sink clean so I can start breakfast without delay;
- menu planning: take 10 minutes to see what you can cook for the next day’s meals; defrost meat, put the beans to soak or whatever will put meals on the table with minimum delay (don’t forget to use your Crock-Pot);
- school day: daily instructions include Penmanship or Copy-work, Phonics, Reading and Math; check on lessons and material needed for the next day’s work; weekly lessons are included for Nature/Science, History/Geography, Art and Music plus plenty of outdoor time to explore; make sure that there are plenty of “school” toys for your toddler (toys she-he can use ONLY during the time the other children are in school).
In the morning, take a long walk (after the oldest helps with the dishes while you get everybody else ready; include snacks and water). Then settle down to quiet time right after lunch (and more dishes for your little helper). These are some of our reading favorites:
Winnie the Pooh series by AA Milne (Ernest H.Shepard)
Beatrix Potter series
The Little House by Virginia Burton
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney
Stone Soup and other folk tale retellings by Marcia Brown
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
A Child’s Illustrated Bible
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by
A good collection including classic stories and folktales
such as The Little Red Hen, The Gingerbread Man, Goldilocks and the Three Bears,
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
A good collection of Aesop’s Fables, such as the one illustrated by Milo Winter
A nice Mother Goose collection or versions such as those by Rojankovsky ,
Marguerite De Angeli or Tasha Tudor , or Lavender’s Blue, a collection of nursery rhymes compiled by Kathleen
Lines, illustrated by Harold Jones , Here Comes Mother Goose , My Very First Mother Goose
Once your toddler or baby is napping, work for no more than 45 minutes with the oldest on Math, Phonics, Penmanship and one of the weekly lessons. For example, review the plants, trees, insects…seen during the long walk (warning: you might need to find some good nature guides to help you answer all their questions) or read the biographies of George Washington, Buffalo Bill, Benjamin Franklin (by Ingri D’Aulaire). The following books served us well for Nature and Science study: The Handbook of Nature Study (Anna Botsford Comstock), James Herriot’s Treasury for Children,The Burgess Bird Book for Children (Thornton Burgess).
You accomplish all that learning. Still, there is a small voice wondering about what a child should know. Here is a list of “attainments” published by a web site (http://amblesideonline.org/index.shtml) dedicated to the work of a 19th century educator:
“A Formidable List of Attainments for a Child of Six” ( a reprint of a curriculum outline from a Charlotte Mason school in the 1890’s):
1. To recite, beautifully, 6 easy poems and hymns
2. to recite, perfectly and beautifully, a parable and a psalm
3. to add and subtract numbers up to 10, with dominoes or counters
4. to read–what and how much, will depend on what we are told of the child
5. to copy in print-hand from a book
6. to know the points of the compass with relation to their own home, where the sun rises and sets, and the way the wind blows
7. to describe the boundaries of their own home
8. to describe any lake, river, pond, island etc. within easy reach
9. to tell quite accurately (however shortly) 3 stories from Bible history, 3 from early English, and 3 from early Roman history (my note here, we may want to substitute early American for early English!)
10. to be able to describe 3 walks and 3 views
11. to mount in a scrap book a dozen common wildflowers, with leaves (one every week); to name these, describe them in their own words, and say where they found them.
12. to do the same with leaves and flowers of 6 forest trees
13. to know 6 birds by song, color and shape
14. to send in certain Kindergarten or other handiwork, as directed
15. to tell three stories about their own “pets”–rabbit, dog or cat.
16. to name 20 common objects in French, and say a dozen little sentences
17. to sing one hymn, one French song, and one English song
18. to keep a caterpillar and tell the life-story of a butterfly from his own observations.
If I neglected to answer any of your questions, please drop me a line. I am always delighted to help.