A few friends have asked recently for the concrete in our homeschool world. The inevitable first question: "What curriculum do you use?" or "What do you actually do?" I asked the same things. So, here is my attempt to pass along the help I have recieved and offer resources we have chosen. But before I begin, I just have to say..
"To each his own, as He leads!"
After experiencing the way traditional education generally goes about the teaching of children primarily according to the latest educational trend, I felt the need to establish my ideas behind education before choosing what methods and materials I would use. I wanted a firm foundation. Mason's philosophy gave me the unifying sense I was looking for, while staying closely in tune with the Word and with who my children are created to be. Plus it was something I felt at peace about.
So first off, I set out to read through her original 6 volumes to get the true picture of what she had to say. Like I said, I'm still working on that. My goal is to finish before my son is age 6, and then read it again and again. It's that rich!
There are many who write about Mason and her ideas, but I chose to go straight to the source once my feet were wet. One of the main things I love about reading her direct ideas is that she is constantly testing them against scripture and challenging me to take a hard look at what I believe and how I go about carrying that out in my life.
As I read, I make notes of things that stand out or apply to my son (or me!) I weigh out what is most important and build those into our daily homeschool goals. This makes up part of what we actually do. Some of my simple daily goals so far, for my 4 1/2 year old are:
- Bible reading (Catherine Vos' A Child's Story Bible- LOVE it!)
- Outside time (which, as he grows, will lead into nature study and later science)
- Living books
- Chores and good habits
- Poetry (one poem usually read during lunch)
I heard about Ambleside Online, which I thought was the strangest name until I learned that it is named after the place she is from in England. The people who put AO together have the same goals as Mason, and now I, do- to treat my child as a person, to offer living ideas, and to present only the very best thoughtfully chosen materials. I like how the site said that their booklists etc. are only meant to be guidelines. There is no one size fits all education (anywhere) because each learner is a unique individual! Makes sense right? I also chose it because it's free!!
I'm in the process of checking out the AO recommendations for Year 1 and stocking up our bookshelves!!
My other favorite part so far has been learning and experiencing the way Mason taught her subjects using things like observation, narration and the emphasis she put on spiritual
development as well as habits and character formation. Teaching using these methods looks so very different from traditional school education, but it makes so much more sense and is full of life! She gave me such practical examples and encouragement for training up little ones in Volume I that I just had to keep going.
I am now very excited to learn alongside my children! I feel like I missed so much when I was in school. I already see in my son the difference these methods make in his ability and desire to learn.
For anyone who doesn't have people close by to do that, I recommend joining this website. It's a wonderful place to come ask questions, gain ideas and be encouraged. Just upload your photo and join to start reading more.