Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Essentials

As usual, I find out what I am thinking when I’m writing (so what am I doing when I’m just sitting around???)

I wrote a post in response to a question about streamlining the homeschool curriculum and in doing so defined pretty much the essence of our homeschool, such as it is.

Once Leonie sent me a review of the Robinson Curriculum (Leonie has been a mentor of mine for years and years)

We don’t use the Robinson Curriculum in that I haven’t bought their CD-set and I don’t really know their book choices. However, the review describes a pared-down but still academically demanding type of course of studies mostly based on reading, writing and math. Our most successful years in the homeschool have generally been when we condense down to those core subjects and then, as you say, expand out from there. (Forming children in Religion is part of my duties as a mom so I think of it in different and broader terms than a normal school subject — just mentioning that so that you know I’m not bypassing it).

For the actual book choices I use the 4reallearning booklist and Mater Amabilis as a starting point. For the older kids I use something like this but tailored to the individual interests and abilities of the kids.

It has not compromised our academics. It seems to prepare them well. I wish I could do the unit studies and fun projects but I function better at helping them, the kids, design their own research projects and hands-on activities rather than originating them myself The pared down approach gives me more time for that facilitating and for the discussions which I increasingly value as a mode of learning and discipling.

In addition to this, later on I wrote out a rough categorization:

  • Religion (tied to what I call the philosophical habit — looking at the big picture, mindfulness, integrity of heart, mind, will– sorry, that’s a bit bombastic sounding but there it is)
  • Academics — Reading, WRiting, Arithmetic
  • Life Skills — character, ethics and practical know-how and common sense — basically, how to live a worthwhile life.
  • Talents/Gifts/Interests — development of these would be based on the individual child, and on what our own family and circumstances can offer.

Obviously, these areas would overlap considerably. Obviously also, if I started listing out all the things one could do that are remotely connected to one of these categories, the list could multiply out of control and not be streamlined anymore. That’s why when I find myself wandering through a haze of all the possible options, it helps me to consolidate considerably and go back to the core of what I’m trying to do.

When I think of grammar, spelling, handwriting etc, for instance…. I think “for a season.” They are part of the whole writing picture and they may look different with different children at different times. For example, my oldest FINALLY has a neat, attractive handwriting. For years it was legible but not very nice looking. And he is 20! But who cares, in the bigger picture? Believe me, I’ve seen enough doctors’ prescriptions to know…

With all these categories, I mostly unschool but I guess in an eclectic way. I usually end up calling it the tip of the iceberg theory (I grew up in the frozen north).


Real Learning on the Beauty of Unit Studies
Literature, Themes and Learning from Living Without School

I thought I had another post somewhere about how we use a literature core and make connections out from there, but I can’t find it right now. Oh, here it is! I think, anyway.

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