Saturday, August 25, 2012

Finding My Way Home

I remember the first day of Zach's kindergarten year. I dropped him off (with the most wonderful teacher in the world) and drove away. But the look on his face, I will never forget. Wide, anxious eyes.  A chewed lip. And as I drove away, I thought, "What in the world are we doing? This can't be right."


We then discovered the joys of homeschooling...
And we have never looked back.
That was fifteen years ago.

Somewhere across all these years, though, I lost my way. I started out being cozy and hands on. Between transcripts and that silly 'classical' craze, I lost both. I got very focused on grades and rigor and the proper way to do science. I started raising intellectuals instead of disciples.

Make sure they make three cycles through history.
Make sure they have four lab sciences.
Make sure they take the practice SAT eighty-five times.
Drill that vocabulary.
Memorize the Westminster Confession.
In Latin.
By the time they're six.
Blah, blah, blah.


And all this time, the ghost of Charlotte Mason has been whispering my name.
What happened to curling up on the couch with a good book?
What happened to hands on?
And making memories?
And feeding, rather than killing, their appetite for learning?

I've spent considerable time researching this summer.
I have many little ones left who need cozy. And I am determined to give it to them.
These are the precious years of discipleship. And I am determined not to fritter them away on textbooks.
I'm finding my way back home.

Helen, my kindergartner, threw me for a loop when she learned to read about a year ago. Kindergarten in our house has always only been about learning to read. But Miss Smarty-Pants has forced me to change things up. Turns out that was a godsend. I discovered Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography.
That Ann Voskamp.
I can smell the coffee as we curl up to study God's earth and become missions-minded in the process.
Mmmm. Cozy, cozy, cozy.

We'll also be doing science as a group this year, and everyone will be studying sea creatures. While my high school junior studies marine biology, Grace (8th) and Jake (6th) will go along for that ride. The younger children (4th, 2nd, and K) will read Swimming Creatures. It's going to be a journey of wonder through God's oceans. I can't wait.

Latin gets a rest this year. Grace and Jake finished their second year, simultaneously learning the Greek alphabet/phonics. So (and this will be the only place I will forfeit cozy for rigor), they will be doing  Greek, just for some good exposure. Shoot, they and Claire (4th) can now read Greek phonetically now. Might as well throw and grow. Throw in some grammar. Grow some vocabulary. We'll take our sweet time going through Classical Academic Press's Greek for Children.

But history is my big find this year. I did a lot of research this year and finally landed on Diana Waring's History Alive. With its four week cycle in every unit focusing on books and hands on, this one had my name written all over it. And, using the reading lists from Ambleside Online, Simply Charlotte Mason, and Higher Up and Further In, I've got books everywhere.

On my desk.
In the kitchen.
On top of the piano.
Double deep on the shelves.
This is a bibliophile's messy paradise.

Grace, my budding artist and eighth-grader, gets Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain all to herself. This is one I bought specifically with her in mind. I enjoy seeing the kids blossom in their individual talents. (And heaven knows I can't help her here at all.)

In my home, homeschooling in high school is the pay-off. It's that time when my child is bridging the gap between childhood and adulthood...
when their thinking starts to become mature and fascinating, and they start to have opinions and views that are slightly different from my own...
when they begin to cross over from being my child to being my friend.

High school is the best homeschooling season of all.

Worldview is still the name of the game. Eliza will be tackling her second year of World Views of the Western World. She had a good experience with the first year, and we had great conversations. She's going to be reading gobs of good books, in terms of literature, philosophy, and politics.

Add in an economics course (Austrian, of course), marine biology, a sweet French curriculum I found, and Professor E. McSquared's Intergalactic Guide to the Galaxy (that's pre-cal to you and me), and she'll have her hands full.

As for extra-curriculars, these are the things that can war against cozy. So we'll keep those to a minimum, especially the things that require my own attendance.
There will be football (in the fall) and boy scouts.
Teen Court and speech/debate.
I will continue to coach extemp in our speech club.
But that's it.
If you're thinking of asking me to contribute to or lead something...
get behind me, Satan.
The answer is no.

A sweet-smelling fragrance.
An atmosphere of wonders in all of us at the magnificence of God's world.
That is my goal this year.

Raising intellectuals is good.
But raising disciples is better.
I have found my way home.

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