2020 has certainly turned out differently than I had expected, but homeschooling carries on. :) This post will detail our curriculum and resources for the 2020-2021 school year.
Character Comes First
"one may cultivate his mere intellectuality till he becomes the brilliant center of the world's admiration, if such were possible; but you cannot call him educated if he is vicious, if his anger in uncontrollable, if he is a drunkard or a glutton, if he is stubborn, if he is unconscientious, if he is irreverent, if he is spiritually blind, if he is selfish, if he is dead to the appeals of human want or suffering."
Education is much more than academic learning; it involves our emotional and spiritual development as well. Without the development of good character, a person may certainly be knowledgeable and could even become an expert in their field of knowledge, and yet they would be missing the central core of what it really means to be educated.
Teaching my children to be honest, responsible, kind people is more important than the acquisition of academic knowledge, so I focus quite a bit of my efforts on character development. Household responsibilities, discussion of character during read-alouds, service within our community, and relationship development are just some of the ways I focus on character development.
An important part of giving my kids a love of learning is encouraging them to pursue their own interests. One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is that my children have as much time as desired to follow their passions. I'm supporting my children's current interests as follows.
My kids are partners in a small chicken egg business. They work together to take care of the chickens daily, and each earn a small amount of money for every dozen of eggs that are sold. Owning their own business has given my kids the opportunity to learn much about raising and caring for animals, handling and saving money, profit vs. loss, the value of hard work, perseverance, and long-term commitments. They're becoming experts in management of the flock, and they make the hard decisions about keeping their business viable throughout the productive and unproductive egg laying years of their hens.
13-year-old daughter Alina
As Alina prepares to move into self-directed Scholar Phase, she has periods of time where she is very focused on achieving specific goals, and other periods of time when she is content to float along in daily life. For instance, last semester she decided to undertake a Reading Challenge wherein she read 22 classic books in four months. Then, over the summer, she decided to take it easy and not set any large goals.
I have to remember that both of these are totally okay and normal during the transition into Scholar Phase. I have to remind myself not to push or force my own educational agenda onto Alina. I am supporting her during this time of growth and change by continuing to let her "own" her education and learning goals.
Alina's primary interests have been changing over the last couple years. Her current primary interests are dragons, Dungeons and Dragons game, and history. I support these interests through:
Giving her plenty of time and materials for drawing and creating dragons,
Being willing to schedule times for our whole family to play Dungeons and Dragons together (I have a hard time slowing down for the several hours it takes to play this game, so I have to be purposeful in making sure I facilitate this), and
Giving Alina exposure to more people and places from history through read-alouds and chapter books.
10-year-old son Ian
Ian has had a lifelong passionate interest in cars and other wheeled vehicles, tools, and machines. More recently, his interests in dogs and cooking have been increasing. I support these interests through:
Including a focus on inventors and inventions in our history studies,
Teaching him how to cook new foods,
Making sure he has plenty of books about dogs, vehicles, and machines to read.
I do not push my children academically (been there, done that, ahem, burnout!), but I do purposely give them exposure to plenty of academic subjects and pursuits. My kids are not required to do school; nonetheless, they love engaging with our different curriculum options. You can see an overview of our current daily homeschool routine here.
Literature is foundational to our homeschool. It gives us exposure to different cultures and values, allows us to "walk a mile" in others' shoes, and facilitates important discussions that lead to character growth.
I read aloud classic books to my children most days. These include both picture books and chapter books with beautiful language, engaging storylines, and memorable characters. Read alouds spark many of our most important discussions about culture and character. Some of our recent read-alouds have included:
Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac
By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman
Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Wind Boy by Ethel Cook Eliot
Family Audio Books
Periodically, we listen to classic audiobooks as a family in the evenings, and then discuss each book as a family. We may also watch a movie adaptation to compare with the book. This has been a great way to get my husband involved in our homeschooling. Recent family audiobooks include:
Heidi by Johanna Spyri