Friday, August 20, 2010

First Day of School

Hannah started kindergarten this week.

I have to tell a little back story about this. My parents made the choice to homeschool me back in the 80's in Southern California. Most people didn't even know it was legal, in fact I remember being closely questioned about why we weren't in school...pretty much everywhere we went. The grocery store, the dentist... To this day I'm not sure why everybody was so concerned about it, but they were. I guess maybe the culture really has changed significantly with regards to schooling.

Anyway, my memories of my childhood are very sweet. I'm the oldest of five. After a couple of hours of bookwork, we spent our days playing outside, reading, baking, creating, gardening... We each had our strengths and weaknesses, but overall we excelled in school. When I was 14 my parents and I together made the decision for me to attend Christian high school. It was time, for us. But I loved being homeschooled.

When it came to our own children, there has been very little question what we would do. OK, that's not completely true. There is a small part of me that wants to put my kids in school, and go do something more "grown up" than wiping noses, reading picturebooks, and working on manners every day. So we have considered other options. But in the end, what has always won out is the experience of teaching my own children, of having long days to play and learn together, of experiencing education as a family unit. This is what we wanted for our family. Life as school.

Though in some ways I've been doing this for years since we didn't send our kids to preschool, this week was our first "real" school week. I'm happy to report that it has felt as natural as I hoped. This is what I know. This is the lifestyle I loved as a child and am excited to recreate in my own home. I know this choice is not for everyone - there are as many different family situations as there are families, but I also know so many people who don't feel confident enough to teach their own children, though they would like to. I am, by nature, an exhort-er, so I'm quite sure that in expressing my own experience I will come across sometimes as trying to persuade you to homeschool as well. If you are confident in the education choices you have made for your family, please don't take offense. But if there is something in you that longs to do this, please follow along in our journey. I'll try to be as realistic as possible, but I'm not going to hide the joy that I have in the privilege of doing this with and for my children. It's the most fun I've had in a while.

End of short back story that was really long.

We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. Sometimes it surprises me that I can say that as confidently as I do, except that everything I read about it resonates with me so deeply, that even if/when we incorporate other things in order to accommodate needs, I will always see us as Charlotte Mason homeschooolers. I'll reference some things at the end of this post, if you want to learn more about this way of homeschooling.

All that said, I bought a $1 teacher's planning book at Target. It has a row for each day of the week and 6 columns for subjects. I am using it more for a school record book, so that I can see what we've done each week. In the state of Colorado, we don't have to do formal school until age 6, so the goal for this year is to spark a love of learning in Hannah (and also in Audrey, age 4), and to have her pick up things along the way. So I'm not doing every subject every day.

After breakfast, we pick up the house and get dressed for the day. If there is too much commotion or some sort of emergency that keeps this from happening, we flex with it. Ideally, we'd be ready for school by 10 or 11am at the latest. Some things we did this week: Reading together followed by narration - the kids telling me back the story they remember. Starting nature notebooks with a walk around my parents' backyard in the forest. A field trip to a you-pick apple farm. A trip to the library and math games on the computers. A first piano lesson. A video (from the library) about the artist Michelangelo and his works of art. Learning to play leapfrog in the living room. About 20 minutes of workbooks. And life skills like making beds, organizing toys, and sticking around to work out a conflict instead of running away. Today we didn't get any school done because of a trip to the nutritionist, but Daddy's working Saturday this week, so we'll make it up tomorrow with looking up wildflower names to write in our notebooks, and reading books together.

It's that simple. It's that fun. It's that natural. It's not hard. It actually gives a structure and a goal to our days at home together that I'm grateful for. I'm so excited for this year.

More about Charlotte Mason:
Charlotte Mason Bio
Simply Charlotte Mason - tips and ideas
Ambleside Online - free online book lists/curriculum
Charlotte's Original Series - SOOOO good.


  1. Awesome! I'm so excited to read this post. You've actually been on my mind recently, as someone I can learn from about homeschooling. Until a month ago I have NEVER had a desire to teach our kids at home...but something has sparked a passion in me so strong that I can't ignore it. I truly believe God has burdened my heart with this desire. We had Shiloh ready to go to a 3 day preschool program this year (she starts kindergarten next fall), but have decided to withdraw her. Instead, we are using this year as a practice year, to do home preschool. :) I am so excited about it, and so is Shiloh. School starts next Tuesday, and we've been busy getting our school area ready to go. Looking forward to following your journey and sharing in the joys of homeschooling together!

  2. Yay! Carly, this is exciting! Can't wait to hear about your experiences. :)