Monday, June 16, 2008

So you're thinking about homeschooling....Part II

What kind of homeschooler are you?

Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason defined education as a series of relationships formed by the learner as he developed intimacy with a wide range of subjects - something she called, "The Science of Relations." Her philosophy directed her use of the methods outlined here. She believed that children are able to deal with ideas and knowledge, that they are not blank slates or sacks to be filled. She thought children should do the work of dealing with ideas and knowledge rather than the teacher acting as a middle man, dispensing filtered knowledge. Children should be taught the fallibility of reason, and that the responsibility of each individual is not in reasoning out the proofs, but in making sure the initial idea or assumption is sound. She saw no separation between intellectual and spiritual life of children and adults, but believed that all truth is of God, regardless of the vessel it comes from. Today, parents and educators will differ widely in how they apply Charlotte Mason's philosophy; however, those adaptations may be more successful if one has a thorough knowledge of Miss Mason's methods. Based on Miss Mason's writings, a CM education would include:
1. Narration, which consists of the child telling back a story.This takes the place of composition in the early years.
2. Copywork, or the transcribing of a well-written piece of literature as handwriting practice.
3. Nature study with an emphasis on close, focused observation of creation as a means to knowledge of God.
4. Outdoor life is necessary to teach nature first-hand, which means plenty of time spent out of doors each day in all weather and in different environments for students of all ages. "School" for children younger than six consisted almost entirely of time spent outdoors.
5. Habit training as a discipline of the child's will and behavior. Children are trained to develop the will, which is manifested in a strong resolve to act in a right manner.
6. Living Books rather than textbooks to convey ideas. Living books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are more than just interesting books that make a topic come alive. A true Living Book has the best material, from the best minds, or at least the real story from someone who was there or has a real interest in their subject.There is a high standard in literary excellence and, while she advocated the use of many books, quality is to be preferred over quantity.
7. First-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through books in each school subject, rather than rote memorization of dry facts. Besides books, children are exposed to great minds through art, music and poetry, which was read to the child daily.
8. Memorization was used, not to assimilate facts, but as a means to have material to meditate on, so her students memorized scripture and poetry.
9. History is taught with primary sources and well-written history books.
10. Literature is taught along with history. For example, if one is studing the Civil War, one would at the same time read works of American literature written at that time.
11. Once children are able to read fluently, they read the lessons themselves, except for books that need editing like Plutarch's Lives.
12. Reading instruction was primarily based on sight vocabulary, but did include use and teaching of phonics. Even beginning readers, she thought, ought to have something interesting to read, like nursery rhymes, rather than dull first readers, so she taught the sight words necessary to allow them to read real books.
13. Schooling is teacher-directed, not child-led, though the child can pursue any number of personal interests during their free time (and her students had all afternoon free.
14. Short lessons with an emphasis on excellent execution and focused attention and variation in the day's scheduled activities so as not to over-stress the brain on one task.
15. In the teaching of mathematics, the ability to reason is emphasized over "working sums", so emphasis is placed on story problems and working with numbers that are within the child's comprehension, therefore, a manipulative-based instruction is desirable.
16. CM encouraged proficiency in at least one other language, specifically French, as well as study in Latin.
17. Charlotte Mason set aside time each day for some form of physical fitness routine which included daily walks and a "drill" which included stretching, breathing exercises, calisthenics, dancing, singing, and games.
18. The knowledge of God, as found in the Bible, is the primary knowledge and the most important.

CM Links & Stuff
Free Curriculum (I use this)
Other curriculum: sonlight, winter promise, beautiful feet
Major Authors:Catherine Levison,Karen Andreola,Cindy Rushton,Frances Schafer
“A Thomas Jefferson Education,” is the title of the book on classics-based education written by Dr. Oliver Van DeMille. In it, he describes the kind of education that created some of the greatest leaders in history—Thomas Jefferson being the quintessential example. The American founding fathers, as well as many other great men and women throughout history, were able to truly impact the world for better because they learned using classical educational models. In today's world, the concept of this type of liberal arts education has generally been replaced by the mass-training of students for the job market.
Have you ever wondered why in past generations, youth in their teens were well-versed in Shakespeare and Euclid, yet many teenagers today struggle to pass standardized tests? Are we, as a society any better educated today than those in years past? What kind of education do our children need for their future lives? How will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren be able to face the challenges of the future, if the lessons of the past become obsolete?
Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEdRefers generally to the concepts presented in the book A Thomas Jefferson Education, written by Dr. Oliver Van DeMille.) serves as a wake-up call for parents and other educators to come out of the fog of modern distraction, and change the face of education for future generations. Today's children are tomorrow's leaders. Will they be prepared for the days to come? The greatest minds throughout history—those who changed the world and lead nations, dynasties, cultures, and societies—were once children, just like yours. The world desperately needs vision and direction, and as parents, our highest calling is to raise truly-educated leaders who can plan, prepare, and improve the lives of the generations yet to come.
As parents catch the vision and decide they want to help their children become the leaders they were born to be, the most common problem then becomes “What do I do next?” As parents who are striving to give our own children a leadership education, we recommend the following first steps.
Both parents should read the “TJEd” book, to learn why leadership education is important
Immediately follow that with the new book “Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning,” authored by both Oliver and Rachel DeMille, to understand more about how to implement TJEd principles in the home
We also highly recommend reading “A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion” by Oliver DeMille, Rachel DeMille, and Diann Jeppson. This book provides a wealth of additional ideas and practical examples for TJEd home education.
Join the community. Nothing serves to inspire change like seeing how it helps other families, and nothing helps you stay on the path like having support from friends on the same journey.
Find other TJEd Families in your area using the TJEd Locator, listed at the top of each page as the Find Others link.
There are some wonderful discussion forums here, which are also linked at the top of the page, that can help connect you with other TJEd families. These also contain a wealth of questions and answers about “how to do it.” Please feel free to ask your own questions there, as well.
Sign up for our free newsletter, the TJEd Times. It’s a great way to get periodic reminders of what is going on in the community, as well as encouragement for your own endeavors.
We hope you’ll join us in this renaissance of true liberal arts education. The world needs leaders, and those leaders live in your home. Please give them the education they will need to truly change the world.
Book: Thomas Jefferson Education
What is a Classical Education?
by Susan Wise Bauer (January 29, 2001)
Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.
The first years of schooling are called the "grammar stage" -- not because you spend four years doing English, but because these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. In the elementary school years -- what we commonly think of as grades one through four -- the mind is ready to absorb information. Children at this age actually find memorization fun. So during this period, education involves not self-expression and self-discovery, but rather the learning of facts. Rules of phonics and spelling, rules of grammar, poems, the vocabulary of foreign languages, the stories of history and literature, descriptions of plants and animals and the human body, the facts of mathematics -- the list goes on. This information makes up the "grammar," or the basic building blocks, for the second stage of education.
By fifth grade, a child's mind begins to think more analytically. Middle-school students are less interested in finding out facts than in asking "Why?" The second phase of the classical education, the "Logic Stage," is a time when the child begins to pay attention to cause and effect, to the relationships between different fields of knowledge relate, to the way facts fit together into a logical framework.
A student is ready for the Logic Stage when the capacity for abstract thought begins to mature. During these years, the student begins algebra and the study of logic, and begins to apply logic to all academic subjects. The logic of writing, for example, includes paragraph construction and learning to support a thesis; the logic of reading involves the criticism and analysis of texts, not simple absorption of information; the logic of history demands that the student find out why the War of 1812 was fought, rather than simply reading its story; the logic of science requires that the child learn the scientific method. The final phase of a classical education, the "Rhetoric Stage," builds on the first two. At this point, the high school student learns to write and speak with force and originality. The student of rhetoric applies the rules of logic learned in middle school to the foundational information learned in the early grades and expresses his conclusions in clear, forceful, elegant language. Students also begin to specialize in whatever branch of knowledge attracts them; these are the years for art camps, college courses, foreign travel, apprenticeships, and other forms of specialized training.
A classical education is more than simply a pattern of learning, though. Classical education is language-focused; learning is accomplished through words, written and spoken, rather than through images (pictures, videos, and television). Why is this important? Language-learning and image-learning require very different habits of thought. Language requires the mind to work harder; in reading, the brain is forced to translate a symbol (words on the page) into a concept. Images, such as those on videos and television, allow the mind to be passive. In front of a video screen, the brain can "sit back" and relax; faced with the written page, the mind is required to roll its sleeves up and get back to work.
Major Authors Susan Wise Bauer/Peace Hill Press, Bluedorn
Unit studies are a popular homeschooling method because they can be hands-on, literature-based, or even geared towards the Charlotte Mason method. Unit Studies typically eoncompass all of the scholastic subjects through the study of one topic (Weaver units or KONOS character units, for example), although they can be specific to a specific subject (Evan-Moor science units or Teacher Created Materials units, for example). For more information on unit studies, be sure to read Robin Sampson's article Unit Study Approach. Grace E., a homeschooling mom using Weaver unit studies has written and excellent article on her approach.
Text book
You would use textbooks like the public schools to cover all of the subjects you wish to teach.
Major suppliers: Abeka, Bob Jones University
Click on the link to see a detailed explanation.

What is Unschooling? Karen M. Gibson
Unschooling has many, many definitions - probably a different one for each family that calls themselves unschoolers. To me, unschooling means interest-led or child-led learning. There are also many different levels of unschooling. Some families require a set amount of Math and English done each day, and then their child is free to explore whatever subjects he would like. Others unschool totally until their child reaches a certain grade level, and then start requiring some structure. And then there are the dyed-in-the-wool, radical unschoolers, who require nothing from their child. They totally trust their child to learn what he needs to know on his own timetable.

Major Authors: Mary Hood

Eclectic homeschoolers use whatever works for each child...not letting any particular philosophy dictate what that is. They begin by taking a look at what their child is doing on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis...and deciding what educational value each activity has. Then, they fill in the gaps, using whatever resources seem to meet that particular child's needs. I can have the best of both worlds! I can allow my kids to pursue their interests and passions and I can also not feel guilty about filling in the holes with tools and activities I deem important.

So what kind of homeschooler are you? I am a Charlotte Mason style homeschooler!

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