Encouraging new homeschoolers ~
Ideas and thoughts, life and relationships, systems and society are all connected.
Why then do we love to separate and compartmentalize everything?
Yours and mine. His and hers. School and life. Knowing & facts.
Inter ~a prefix from Latin, means “between,” “among,” “together”
1. to connect with one another.
2. to be or become connected or interrelated.
I love connections in homeschooling. I teach with literature-based themes that merge and link subjects, topics and ideas together with other activities. In fact, I used to teach my 5th, 6th and 7th Graders combining English lessons with History, Art and Geography lessons and the Media Centre.
For example: I read my 7th Graders the classic story Coral Island for English = and taught Literature, vocabulary enrichment & spelling, Language Arts, Dictation, creative writing, oral and poetry related to themes which flowed from the story. Simultaneously we studied Geography = Oceans, currents, storms, islands, coral islands, coastal landscapes. Added History lessons = famous shipwrecks, famous explorers who discovered islands, Then included Natural Sciences and study fish, corals, famous endemic island animals, island plant life, etc. And for Art we painted all the windows with water-based transparent wash in blues and greens and the children then painted fish, corals and underwater themes. It transformed our room! Other art lessons were wax-relief painting, 3D fish projects and storm themes … you get the picture? It was an ever-changing, inter-connected journey with our literature leading the way. My students never forgot that book or some of those lessons. Sadly, the school system no longer allows this.
Charlotte Mason describes this as the Science of Relationships. She writes,
We may believe that a person is put into this most delightful world for the express purpose of forming ties of intimacy, joy, association, and knowledge with the living and moving things that are therein. Fulness of living, joy in life, depend, far more than we know, upon the establishment of these relations. (vol 3 pg 76) His parents know that the first step in intimacy is recognition; and they will measure his education, not solely by his progress in the ‘three R’s,’ but by the number of living and growing things he knows by look, name, and habitat. (vol 3 pg 77) Geology, mineralogy, physical geography, botany, natural history, biology, astronomyy––the whole circle of the sciences is, as it were, set with gates ajar in order that a child may go forth furnished, not with scientific knowledge, but with, what Huxley calls, common information, so that he may feel for objects on the earth and in the heavens the sort of proprietary interest which the son of an old house has in its heirlooms. (vol 3 pg 80)
Please don’t think of your homeschooling as subjects and timetables where you “tick all the boxes”. There is no humanly possible way for you to “cover everything” – there will always be gaps.
For toddlers, kindergarten, primary school, and middle schoolers, education should be hands-on, intimate, personal and experiential. Consider how to engage all five senses, include physical movement, being outdoors in nature, singing, poetry, art, and meet real people. Avoid all textbooks and separate subjects. Think “Unit Study” rather. Study topics your kids are interested in, and pull as many activities, experiences, books, outdoor activities, creative projects, field trips, songs, prepare, cook and eat foods, and meet people in a wide, rich learning experience.
You don’t need to even “teach” facts. Ask your child questions. Explore and discover with them. It will be delightful!
As your children mature they will do this more independently by choosing and reading books on topics that fascinate and inspire them. It involve much more private reading and more vocational activities. It may flow into hobbies, volunteer work and career-related part-time jobs.
Simply, take a great book, a living book, and read aloud to all your children. Follow the themes, topics, and go down the rabbit trails. Come back to the next chapter when you’re done. Collaborate with your child and ask them what they want to study. Follow their lead.
Embrace engagement. Look for the spark of interest and develop learning, exploration and discovery around it. Allow the child to create their own relationships to ideas. They need to attach it to thoughts and understandings they already have. Think how a young toddler learns; touching, tasting, feeling, listening, looking and playing with something until she knows it.
Learning should include experience. You are facilitating an enlargement and interconnection.
Blessings as you connect to true learning.
In Him, Nadene