children, Life Talk, school

Obligatory Start of School Year Post

“So Louise,” you say, “What have you been up to lately?”

Funny you should ask!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned here before our plan to teach our littles at home. Our main reason for this is that both Carl and I feel that a classical education, or some form thereof, is going to give them the best tools for learning and growing their entire life. And that is not something that one can find in any public schools, or even most private. I love the holistic way classical education works, showing how everything is interconnected, I love that it teaches how to learn, instead of just imparting facts, I love, love, love that it gives them Latin at a young age so that they have a good solid base for almost any other language they want to learn in later years.

So. Yesterday I started preschool with Joy. It wasn’t in our original plan to do preschool at all – I have a rather Montessori approach to schooling for really little kids, in theory at least, that they learn best through unstructured play and exploring their world.

But Joy? She gets bored with unstructured play. And she really loves doing projects, or sitting down and practicing letters, or anything of that sort. So last year I bought a few workbooks just to see if she would like them, and she ate them up. So this year I firmly put my child’s individual preference ahead of my ideals and theories, and we are doing preschool. I ordered more workbooks from the same company (Kumon, in case anyone is curious – I know they don’t work for everyone, but they seem practically made for Joy), bought some flashcards (which she likes almost as much as the workbooks), and typed up a weekly schedule for her. We haven’t dived right into the new schedule yet, still using some of our other books (Hooked on Phonics, which she likes but doesn’t find anywhere near as challenging and satisfying as the Kumon books) because I’m still missing one workbook which I thought I had but ended up having to order …

But this isn’t about my absent-mindedness, although I suspect we’ll possibly have an episode like that every year. Joy is so happy to be “doing school” every day, and although I am emphatically not a natural teacher, I love seeing her blossom almost overnight with this new schedule.

I even wrote out a goal list of things I want to see Joy accomplish this year – both academic and personal, because for me, school is about so much more than just training the mind, but about developing healthy lifestyle habits as well. Which is why “explore new ideas” is one item on the list, as well as “learn to write name,” “learn to count to 100,” and “learn to control temper” (I suspect that one will go on the goal list Every Single Year); and “skate forward and backward” (figure skating is our PE!) is right next to “learn music” (yes, that one is vague, but I’m still not sure what we’ll be doing for music. Joy insists she wants to learn banjo, but I’m thinking we might need to start with something more basic, first). Education! It’s so much more than readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic.

Grace, I suspect, will be my Montessori kid, which also ought to be fun, especially once I’ve gotten used to Joy’s learning style and have to retrain myself all over again to figure out what works best for Gracie, but I am adapting as I need, and the reward of my kid’s beaming face as she finishes up the last of last year’s workbooks before starting the new is enough for me.

Hope this wasn’t too boring for you all to read! I promise, I will do a writing-related post soon. How many of you sent your kids off to school this week, or started school at home? Were your kids excited or dreading the school year? If you do homeschool, do you follow a particular method, and if so, why? Are you super-impressed by my not-quite four-year-old’s ability to mostly color within the lines?

8 thoughts on “Obligatory Start of School Year Post”

  1. Your little girl is so cute! And you are very ambitious for homeschooling. I've always admired people who can do that. I have a blog award for you at my blog. Stop by and get it when you get the chance.

  2. Look at her, all lit up! And I love her valiant effort at colouring. The school year looks like it's off to a great start.May I put my vote in for the banjo, too?I am pretty sure that if I chose to homeschool, I would do it for the wrong reasons (namely, for the chance to have a much increased control over what went on in my kids' days! To KEEP THEM SAFE AT ALL COSTS!!!!) so I am always heartened when I see people articulate reasons so much healthier than my own would be. It's a good reminder for me that not everybody suffers from my control issues ;)Where I'd love to send my littles, when the time comes–> wishes for the coming school year to all four of you!~Andrea

  3. Homeschooling is something I would love writing up a curriculum for– my curriculum would involve a lot of library use, strangely enough– but when you get right down to it, I am DYING for my kids to GO TO SCHOOL. Sometimes I feel like a terrible mother because I don't want them around me ALL THE TIME. That's my only excuse. I'd have it DOWN from the academic angle. But I'm going batty being a nearly-full-time mom, which is why I'm so sure I don't want any more younger kids. And I always WANTED to be a mom! I'm not sure what's wrong with me…ANYWAY, I now have a preschooler out of the house three mornings a week. And he doesn't need it from an academic standpoint at all– he knows all the curricular stuff they're going to learn this year. But the social interaction, being away from mommy, learning to get over the fear of using a public bathroom stuff is what I feel he's getting out of it. And it seems to be going well!

  4. Kirsten – Thank you, both for the blog award and the compliment. Sometimes I think "crazy" is more accurate than ambitious, but we'll see what happens next year when we start doing kindergarten in earnest.Andrea – That Touchstone school looks marvelous. Anything that talks about recognizing and appreciating children's individuality is always a WIN with me – one of my beefs with public school in general, that no matter how much the teachers try, the system just does not allow for that.Lydia – Thank you! We'll see how well the plan holds up in the day-to-day – but even an idealistic plan is better than seat-of-my-pants, right?Rockinlibrarian (it took me three tries, I might add, to spell librarian correctly. Yes, a marvelous teacher I am going to be! On the bright side, at least I recognized each time that it was wrong) – I so, so sympathize with not wanting to be a full-time Mom and Teacher. That's probably what I'm having the hardest time with. I love my kids, I just would like them more if I EVER had a chance to miss them. And if I ever found a private school that had had a Classical system in place? SIGN ME UP. Of course, my husband might have another opinion, but hey, he's not the one doing the day-to-day teaching. I actually considered putting Joy in our local Montessori preschool this year, just for the socialization aspect, but we might be moving in a few months, or weeks, or next year, and until we know for sure I obviously can't commit to anything. So we're going to get involved, when we can, in other social activities. And join a homeschool group when she'd old enough!

  5. I'm a "homeschool mom." Three out of the four are now in college and doing very well. It was completely worth all the time and the occasional bad day. I've got one more left at home and then it will be over–I can't believe it. It went so fast. Stick with it!

  6. I haven't figured out my philosophy on teaching styles yet, but as our primary pastor is a retired teacher, and being homeschooled myself, we have a lot of interesting discussions with people at church and in general about educational frameworks, etc. The schools in Philly try, but they're a) massive, b) underfunded, c) unambitious. We plan to homeschool, down the line, but I feel if it proves too much for me, I have options, like Christian schools and charter schools (though I know some of those have similar pitfalls).Basically, I don't feel locked in to the plan, so if it doesn't work out, I think I won't fall to pieces. Community groups and involvement are pretty great around here regardless.

  7. Connie – Thanks for the encouragement. I was homeschooled back when very few were doing it at all – things are so much easier for me than for my parents, plus I have them to fall back on with any questions. I *think* we'll turn out just fine.Beautifulmonday – I always hate coming down on public schools, because most of them do try, but fall into at least one if not all of the three categories you listed. And I'll end there, before I go into a rant against the foolishness of a system that tries to fit all children into a safe middle ground, yet expects them to grow up to think and act for themselves, and want to achieve great things!

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