|Jor Man with the Coconut he found and opened|
But back to Dakota's comments. For the record, I also started out as a Classical-minded, Charlotte Mason leaning educator. I still am. I love the classics and good literature. I read "The Well-Trained Mind" through several times before my oldest child turned 3!! We have a lot in common, Dakota and I. (The two best ways to totally overwhelm yourself before starting homeschool are to read through The Well-Trained Mind, and to browse through the Rainbow Resource Curriculum Guide. The options are indeed endless.)
It is so easy for me to fall back into that - it's deliciously comforting to me in theory. I love the idea that I could educate my children in such a way that they would have read all of those wonderful books, and had a very rigorous and thorough education. It's just that when I tried, I found a different reality hitting me in the face.
|At Auto Safari Chapin in Guatemala|
Reading John Holt's "How Children Fail" was such a revelation to me. I was expecting my children to produce a certain result. And this had slowly become so much more important to me than the fun of learning. I saw in that book that I was producing for some unseen (and some seen) critics of my homeschooling. I felt I had to produce brilliant and well-schooled children in order to "prove" that my choice in homeschooling them was somehow justified. (As if I could convince anyone who doesn't want to believe in homeschooling.)
Hitting the wall came for me in fits and spurts. I noticed how much they learned when life created a necessary school break. Instead of "regressing" when we took a break, they excelled. It got downright embarrassing. They did better when I didn't teach them than when I did. Hmmm. So much for proving myself.
|Sher Bear's drawing of the boy we met carrying his parrots on a stick|
Piece by piece, I realized that my teaching them was not the joyfilled, fun experience we were all hoping for. I organized, planned and imagined wonderful times of learning - and in practice, there was arguing, groaning and (yes) yelling on my part.
I considered sending them all to school. Perhaps it was just that I was a poor teacher. Or perhaps teaching and parenting was too much for me.
|After digging for Mayan artifacts in the mud, Sher Bear does her "yucky" face|
"Mom, could you help me figure out how to skin this snake?" Umm, ugh, okay. "Mom, can we find the chicken's brain?" (while slaughtering our chickens) "Mom, how do you spell Birthday?" "How do you make a B?" "How many quarters do I need to buy my doll a backpack?"
|This Monarch butterfly is one of the many Campster will catch this summer.|
Dakota, you mentioned skills like reading, writing and math. I know you well enough to know that you read volumes to your kids. They will read. You don't need to teach them. They'll get it. They'll start asking you how to spell words and how to make the various letters. They'll become interested in numbers, counting, and how many. Before you know it, they'll be doing division, and you will have never "taught" them it. That's how its happening in our house.
|Campster and Sher Bear climbing the steps of an old chapel|
When my kids were learning to walk, I sometimes did egg them on. It's fun. And as long as it was fun for them, they would humor me and try. But sometimes, I think, they didn't want to. They resented the pressure. Imagine if there was a school for walking. Imagine we sent our kids to walking school, and they were graded. Some kids were considered remedial walkers. Really - that sounds absurd. Or talking school?! We play with kids when they babble. It's fun and that is how they learned to talk. We talked with them. Can you imagine step by step instructions for teaching your child to talk? "Teach your child to walk and talk in 100 easy lessons". Crazy. So why is reading, writing and math any different?
|Jor Man overwhelmed by his club sandwich!|
These are skills. I agree with Dakota. We can place them in a category different than, say, American History. We do use them everyday. Even without trying to. Give your children an environment that is full of real life (not an isolated existence in a classroom full of their peers), and watch them develop naturally - with all the love for learning that God gave them.
Wish you were here!
P.S. - Dakota - I love you whether you homeschool or not - whether you unschool or insist on doing the trivium. Whatever works for you and your kids is wonderful.