"All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual."
Welcome! We are beginners on the home education journey. Ten-year-old Sarah has been homeschooling since October, 2003 and five-year-old James has just begun his Kindergarten year at home.
We use an eclectic approach. I started by loosely following the classical education model outlined in The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Bauer and Susan Wise Bauer (the key word here is "loosely"). We have also borrowed heavily from another classical model: the Charlotte Mason approach. Charlotte Mason was a turn-of-the-century English educator, whose ideas have enjoyed a revival among modern homeschooling families. This approach is both an educational method and rich philosophy on child rearing and life learning. Recently, when my son began Kindergarten, I also started incorporating many ideas from Waldorf Education (the ideas of Rudolf Steiner).
I created this page to help our homeschool stay connected with our family and friends and with other families to whom our experiences, ideas, and resources may be of some interest.
This site includes a page on narration, a Charlotte Mason inspired method of helping children develop the habit of attention, build their listening and reading comprehension, and strengthen many other skills. The narration page includes a brief article on this technique and some additional resources.
We offer some basic information on the typical scope and sequence of learning early reading and writing skills. We also have a few teaching aids for helping kids learn to read, including a free phonics game and Dolch sight word cards.
We have a page on nature study, with both original articles and links. This includes several wonderful articles by my father, a retired professor and volunteer nature educator, on the many benefits of helping children discover nature. I have also included a list of some resources for teaching science, history and geography. We offer an annotated list of links as well.
I welcome comments, questions, and ideas. Thank you for visiting, and good luck in your own endeavors. Please sign our guestbook!
We moved to our present home, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, 11 years ago. We lived across the street from a large homeschooling family. It was the first time I had heard of anyone homeschooling. I thought they were kind of interesting and eccentric ;-)
I did not seriously consider the idea of educating our own children at home until our older daughter, Sarah, was in Kindergarten. She was enrolled in an excellent public school, yet we were struggling to understand her unique learning style and to fit it into their system. Although she attended a developmental Kindergarten program, the school was under great pressure to meet standardized educational expectations. I felt that Sarah's developmental needs were being defined to fit these educational standards. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
This is my perspective; of course, others' experiences and opinions may differ. I saw teachers and administrators, most of whom are superb educators, struggling to meet ever-increasing government-mandated standards, many of which are developmentally inappropriate for young children. Along with this came more seat work for the youngest students, homogenized approaches to teaching and discipline, and decreasing recess time. These trends are the opposite of recommended practice for early childhood education. The teachers and administrators probably knew this. That didn't matter.
For years, I was intimidated by the idea of home education. Even if we were sure it was a good choice - how could we possibly afford it? Did any mothers actually teach their children at home and earn a salary too? Was I qualified? How could the quality of my teaching possibly compare with that of professional educators with 10, 20 or 30 years of experience in the public school system? Would my daughter and I drive each other insane with our mutual hard-headedness ;-)? And, of course, the ever-popular question: what about socialization? Above all, would I fail?
Like all families who have considered home education, we had to answer these questions for ourselves, and we continue to do so. There are many written resources and support groups to help you. I have grown in my conviction that a truly individualized education is best for our children. I have been challenged by this role, and have enjoyed developing my knowledge and ability in this area.
As a home-educating parent, I am fortunate to have had excellent teachers: my own parents. They were both professional educators themselves, and were continually teaching us, unhindered by the fact that they worked outside the home and that my brother and I were enrolled full-time in public schools. They taught us to read and write and gave us a foundation in math. They taught us to question everything and think for ourselves. Most importantly, they shared their interests and passions with us. For example, my mother shared her love of fiction and literature, and read to me long after I was able to read to myself. My recent reading of Anne of Green Gables, with Sarah, was filled with her voice. My father shared his love of biology, nature, astronomy, and earth science. Both ignited my interest in art.
One of the helpful things offered by Charlotte Mason's approach, according to eloquent and popular interpreters of her teachings like Karen Andreola, is that she demonstrates that parents can teach their own children effectively, without the need for costly curricula. Parents need not feel intimidated by their lack of formal teaching credentials, and they need not worry if they did not have opportunities to develop interests in things like art, music, and nature as children. Acquiring learning and teaching skills is a life-long process. Education is a way of thinking, and a way of life.
Several years ago, we had the opportunity to have both a school psychologist and a private neuropsychologist evaluate Sarah, to better understand her learning style and her needs. The neuropsychologist's evaluation offered a diagnosis of Non-Verbal Learning Disability and mild Asperger's Syndrome. Unsurprisingly, the results of both these assessments highlighted Sarah's superior intelligence, her outstanding verbal skills, her high academic ability, her love of literature and writing, and her sense of humor, among other positive things. It also addressed her challenges, helping us lay out some educational and developmental goals which I hope are reflected in our evolving approach to homeschooling. We are always seeking more information and suggestions. Among these goals are:
Helping Sarah strengthen her organizational skills: