Subtitled: On what is true, good, and beautiful.
Also subtitled: On thinking out loud, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Note: this is my philosophy and what I think my family should do. I am not proselytizing on what your family should do. That's your job. ;-)
A reader asked in the comments of an earlier post for me to talk about methods I am thinking about this year. So here are some thoughts on methods we will be using and ideas that will be driving our homeschool, including some new philosophies and some old favorites.
Reading Aloud - I am convinced that besides teaching them to read, this is the single most important thing I can do for my children and their education. It needs to be a priority, it needs to be done daily for sustained periods, and it needs to include the best books I can find. Books should include picture books, poetry, classics (old and modern) written right at or above their level to expose them to rich language and beautiful ideas. No excuses.
Focus on Skills - No, really, I mean it. Focus on skills, because these are the tools I will give my children to help them interact with the world around them. A systematic introduction and review of the basic skills of the arts of language, the ability to reason, the ability to communicate ideas effectively and both the practicality and beauty of mathematics is what is fair to my kids -- anything less is sending them out to build a house without a hammer. These subjects should be taught with compassion and as much skill as I can muster. The responsibility is on me, the teacher, to educate myself in methods of instruction that allow them to flourish and not be frustrated.
Memorization - A muscle that is conditioned through regular exercise becomes significantly stronger and better able to conquer the real-world tasks thrown its way. I have become convinced that memorization is calisthenics for the brain. Poetry, math facts, Scripture, timeline dates, speeches, etc. Memory work creates pegs for future learning, internalizes linguistic patterns of the great writers, and makes difficult subjects easier due to effortless recall of base facts, true. But most of all, the act of memorization works the brain and keeps it supple.
Experience is key - If all learning comes from a book or at a table
then an education is one-dimensional and missing a vital element. Time
must be made to explore, observe, and experience the world. This is so valuable it trumps box-checking and the ideas of "being caught up" or "finishing on time."
Less is more - Is it better to see every piece of art in the museum or stop and drink in the beauty of the best works? A calm, reasonable amount of subjects and coverage at a rate where ideas can be mulled over and soaked in is preferable to a vast array of topics. This is especially important in the primary years when skills acquisition is paramount. Do less. Do it better.
Their time is valuable - So it should not be wasted. This ties into "Less is more" but also includes the concept that play is a pivotal learning modality at this age. They need tons of time to process learning through play. It also includes time and resources for them to focus on their interests and the learning on their agenda. This is not optional.
Curriculum is overrated - While I have come to the determination that curriculum for skill areas is a valuable tool provided it is chosen with care, I am cautious of curriculum use in the content areas for the ages my children are. It is too easy to become a slave to the dictates of the curriculum and become distracted from the methods which I esteem by what is shinny, new, and organized. Then we get mired down in checking off boxes and lose sight of our goals of learning. And very rarely does a curriculum line-up with my goals for a subject. This is one area where I am taking the time to design my own plan.
Avoid busywork - There is a fine line between valuable practice and busy work. I get the hard task of deciding which is which. The valuable practice is not to be missed. The busy work is to be avoided at all costs. Everything must be chosen with clear and specific purpose.
Like I said, these are my thoughts that I have been mulling and processing for my family. More to come...