Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Changing Course Midstream


Today is Loving Our Children Tuesday at my friend Kate's blog.  I home schooled my children for most of their school careers and while it was a struggle at times, I can see the benefits of it at the same time.

After a 3 year stint in public school, I decided to home school Emily again this year at her request.  So, I dusted off the books I had and started in with the method I had always used, unit studies.  For the uninitiated, unit studies basically teach many or most subjects around one topic.  There are generally lots of hands-on projects, the literature, history and science all center around this particular topic.

However, after about a 6 weeks into it, I began to realize that this method wasn't working for her the way it did for the boys.  It doesn't really reflect my teaching style and it certainly didn't reflect her learning style.  Emily is a lot like me.  She is task oriented.  She likes to feel and see tangible results each day.  She actually likes textbook learning.  I love to read and discuss things and elaborate and then look up how one thing relates to another.

So in midstream we have switched to a classical approach to education and are finding it very satisfying for both of us.  I started reading and ended up purchasing Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise's book, "The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home."  A classical approach to education is much more literature intensive.  While it was a little daunting at first, I soon found that I love this approach.  There is a lot of work involved, but I feel like we are making progress and things are moving along now. 

So, our daily schedule looks something like this:

Daily devotional - roughly about 15-20 minutes of reading from a passage of the Bible and then discussing it and how it relates to us.

Read aloud from a classic piece of literature - right now I am reading Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

About 15 minutes of critical thinking and logic.

2 pages a day; sometimes more from Math-U-See's Pre-Algebra Book.

► Grammar
► Writing
► "Vocabulary from Classical Roots" - learning the Latin & Greek roots of words.
► "Spelling Power" - I love this program because the student learns the words they don't know how to spell, not just lists of words.


History (3 days per week for about 90 minutes)
► Reading from a history text and writing important facts, filling in dates on a time-line, important people, etc.
► Reading from a primary source in history and 3-4 pages of outlining a week (a lost art)!

Science (2 days per week for about 90 minutes)
► Reading from science text and doing experiments
Writing lab reports

Art & Music
► Study of the great masters through reading, looking and listening to their works, trips to museums and concerts.
► Emily also takes a once a week art class with a friend who is a local artist.
► She plays the piano, sings, and plays guitar.

Physical Education
Generally she is doing some sort of exercise - basketball, hiking, running, etc. 3-4 times a week.

In this weekly schedule we also fit in practical arts, health and library skills.  She also reads assigned books too.  Right now she is reading, "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott.  Not her favorite, but she's plugging away at it.  So as you can see, it's a full schedule but she likes it, I like it and we are both happy!

I didn't put times because it really varies.  We do try to accomplish all those core subjects each day regardless of the time we start.  There are some days when we get a much later start because she's been struggling so much with health issues.  She can't get to sleep at night because of the excema and when that happens, I do let her sleep in.  But, we do accomplish much each day!