home education | the process

Two years ago, I wrote a big post on why were choosing to homeschool. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years since we started out on this discovery journey. We have learned a lot about ourselves and our goals. I haven’t posted much about it on the blog, but I have posted quite a bit over on instagram. Most of the pictures throughout this post are from my hashtag #mccownhomeschool and #mccownhomeeducation. I’m going to use this post to walk you through what we planned, tried, failed, re-planned, re-learned, and tried again. For me, that’s a huge part of the beauty of educating at home, we have the space and grace to learn, without fear of “getting behind” or looming standardized tests.

Initially, as you can read here, we started out with a “school at home” approach. As a former teacher, I had preconceptions about how learning occured and the “best” ways to achieve learning. I had the privilege of attending one of the best College for Education, and I am very thankful for the wide gamut of experinces and knowledge I gained while there. It was made very clear that learning occurs in many different ways, and we were always encouraged to challenge the status quo and break out of the “public school box.” But to be honest, in reality, that is extremely hard to do with the current set up of public schools. I know there are MANY teachers who go above and beyond and create a learning environment that stimulates children in many ways. However, when it gets down to it, you have to have a certain number of “graded assignments and grades.” This ultimately results in many worksheets. Some kids thrive on these. Others not so much. I know many teachers that worked hard to provide many of the things I will list below, but in my first attempts to homeschool, I tried a bit too hard to recreate school, but at home.

Overall, this didn’t work very well for Jarvis and me. While he loved Bede’s History and his Geography book, and he LOVED any kind of read alouds, he didn’t love the 7 pages of math and reading that we “needed to complete every day to finish the book by the end of the year.” I found that both he and I were getting easily discouraged and didn’t look forward to school time. We discovered many things that didn’t work for us during that time, but some that did. One afternoon, I recall telling my husband (and posting on Instagram!), that I wished we could just sit and read books for school. We learned so much from them and we all loved it. Soon after, I decided to make this our goal. In my effort to redefine our homeschool experience, I did some research. I wanted a curriculum or theory that was based on quality literature.

And I found it. About 6 months after our initial forray into homeschooling (when Jarvis had just turned 5 and was still technically a pre-ker), I discovered Charlotte Mason methodology. I’ll share (in a nutshell) the premise behind her methodology. Jamie over at Simple Homeschool has an awesome list and explanation, hop over there for more in depth discussion of each section.

The 7 Characteristics that define a Charlotte Mason education.

  1. Instilling good habits.
  2. Short, quality lessons.
  3. Living Books (vs textbooks or purely informational books)
  4. Oral narration of read alouds
  5. Dictation for spelling and grammar
  6. Art and Music Study
  7. Nature Study

This is also a great little chart about the ways she suggests to study various subjects, created by Simply Charlotte Mason (which is where I purchase many of my resources). I utilize this website as a jumping point for most of my curriculum choices, except for reading and math.

Subjects Methods
Basic Principles for All Subjects Short lessons; Habits of attention and perfect execution; Varied order of subjects
History Living Books; Narration; Book of Centuries
Geography Living Books; Narration; Map work
Bible Read aloud; Narration (discussion for older students); Memorize and recite regularly
Math Manipulatives; A firm understanding of why
Science Nature Study; Living Books; Narration
Foreign Languages Hear and speak, then read and write
Writing Copywork for handwriting; Oral and written narration for composition
Spelling Building words; Copywork; Prepared Dictation
Grammar Not formally studied until older than ten
Art Picture Study for art appreciation; Art instruction; Handicrafts
Music Music Study for music appreciation; Instrumental instruction; Singing
Literature Living Books; Narration
Poetry Read aloud and enjoy frequently; Memorize and recite occasionally (include Shakespeare)

I think I will share more about our exact curriculum selections and how we are organizing our days in another post, as I found a fabulous resource on “Morning Baskets” and schedule looping. It has been working wonderfully for us. In reality, they are all still so little. So we spend very little time on “formal” schooling and far more time playing and learning organically. For me, that is one of the biggest benefits of educating at home. It isn’t just a set schedule and workbooks, it’s a lifestyle, where we take time and space to grow in all sorts of ways!

To wrap up this long and picture-heavy post, I just want to share what Jace and I believe are the goals of education and a vision for what we want to develop in our children during the time they are in our home. It’s not necessarily complete, and will likely change and evolve and grow as we learn more about exactly WHO God created our little people to become and what we want to create as their legacy.

We believe:

  • education is a life-long process
  • the love of learning in innate and it is simply our job to help our children cultivate it.
  • in the need to teach a lifestyle of independent learning, so that they will have the skills to seek out knowledge for need or love.
  • in empowering our children in a pursuit of their God-given passion and focus for their lives.

Our vision is to help all our children:

  • learn to comfortably and effectively communicate through written and spoken words; to be able to argue and debate respectfully and effectively.
  • learn an inner discipline that calls them to personal responsibility and social responsibility for others in need.
  • have the opportunity to express creativity and exercise critical thinking skills.
  • be exposed to the not just the practicality, but most of all the beauty in logic, music, art, math, science, and literature.
  • have an understanding of the forces and people that have shaped history and the ability to critically apply that knowledge to our current world.
  • understanding of how our bodies are meant to function and how proper diet and exercise can affect their ability to perform at their best, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  • develop life skills such as cooking, housekeeping, homemaking, and finances.
  • create a entrepreneurial spirit and critical thinking and wisdom for follow-through.
  • cultivate a value of character traits such as compassion, self reliance, generosity, patience, humility, responsibility, empathy, and self worth.
  • be exposed to the depth of Christ’s love for them and an understanding of his life, salvation, and call for Christians.

So there you have it. Home education, McCown-style. One last question: Why home education vs homeschooling? Because we are not doing “school” at home. In fact, there isn’t anything we are really taking from government schools (as my libertarian husband likes to call them). Instead, we are educating ourselves. All together. In a fluid, real, life-giving manner.

In the end, we are not responsible for what they learn. We are not responsible for creating good little Christians or citizens. It’s not my job to make sure they can read fluently or be able to do Calculus. What they actually learn or do not learn is NOT important. 

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What is important, is that we spend time, diligently and faithfully exposing them to the great wonders and truth of the world. That I lay a feast of knowledge before them and allow them the opportunity to learn. I simply can not make them learn anything. But if knowledge is presented with the love and wonder and fascination that it is due, they won’t be able to help but learn.

 

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