What we are using

29 March 2008

Shifting Focus

"Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food." (Charlotte Mason, Volume 2, pg. 39)

I have been planning for homeschooling for next year, and it has been difficult for me. In my mind, I have very strong pictures of what our homeschool should look like. I see us cuddled with good books while something yummy bakes in the oven. I see the kids making beautiful art and playing happily and free. I know that they will be struggling with the big questions in life one day not too far off and pouring over formulas in math and filling out applications for college.

My question is - how does that picture relate to the Middle Ages, the periodic table of elements, and the progymnasmata? As I looked at my list last week, I was struck by the fact that I planned art for Fridays. I was saddened by the implications. I reread some of the basic philosophies of classical homeschooling and tried to understand. CC is getting older and is ready for more challenging work. She does need grammar and writing and to read good literature. She is at at stage in which she can memorize a vast amount. She is very artistic and imaginative. She loves to cook and to create things.

I want something MORE from our school than just filling her mind with facts. Do you remember anything you learned in second grade? I had seen on A Small Corner of Nowhere that a box from Oak Meadow had been received and was being enjoyed. Hmm, Waldorf, I remember when I researched Waldorf years ago. I looked at OM during that time and decided it wasn't Waldorf enough. After researching Second and Third Grade material at OM, I had a conference with the men in the family (BB and Hubby).

I presented both my original plans for CC for next year and what Oak Meadow would have us doing. I explained neo-classical, Charlotte Mason and Waldorf pedagogy as well as I could. I laid out what a typical day and week would be then asked for opinions. CC chose OM because of its focus on art and bringing artistic expression into most lessons. BB chose OM because it is so different from who I am (I am really a classical education person. Read more Homer, please.) that it would be good for me to be more open and flexible and artistic. Hubby chose OM since it seems closer to who CC is - as long as I didn't plan to use it as-is. He wants me to take it and use it as a tool, and add to it the things that I think are important from the classical education. I am of course not switching math and there will be grammar, spelling and more writing.

Second grade will now include cooking, recorder playing, singing, carpentry, book binding, photosynthesis, volcanoes, earthquakes, rock cycle, sea life, jungle life, desert life, climate zones, natural resources, map making, the history of time telling, the history of writing, grammar, stories, tongue twisters, poetry, folk tales from around the world, and much more.

We'll see where this road goes. I am content for now with the new direction we are planning for next year.

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