Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Homeschooling Journey Part 2

Our mother, Deborah, with grandson Mosiah who was learning a lesson on manners

Our mother gave several talks at our church about homeschooling and child training. She began homeschooling in 1986 with a daughter beginning 4th grade and a son in 1st grade. Mom ended her homeschooling teaching in 2002 with 16 years of experience under her belt. She was a wonderful teacher because she loved to learn herself and was willing to admit to mistakes and try to change those things for the better. We will miss having her here with us to ask advice on raising our own families. We are grateful she wrote some of her thoughts down. This is her story.

Charlotte taught that if you want your child to remember then you have to secure his whole attention. Her definition of attention is summarized as, “the whole mental force is applied to the subject in hand. This act, of bringing the whole mind to bear, may be trained into a habit at the will of the parent or teacher, who attracts and holds the child’s attention by means of a sufficient motive.”

As I’m sure all of you here have found out, you cannot depend upon the will of the child to accomplish the development of attention. You have to depend of habit. Don’t let your child dawdle over their lessons. Charlotte taught that a child’s lesson should be short, going from a harder subject to an easier one and back and forth for the day’s lessons. Lesson’s were to be 15 to 20 minutes for elementary students, 30 minutes for junior high students and to 45 minutes in high school.

I don’t want anyone to raise their hands but how many of you could tell me the last sentence I just spoke? Another question for you. How many of you have experienced driving down a highway from point A and when you get to point B you didn’t remember driving there? We all find giving our full attention to situations lacking at times and I’m sure you have already experienced that with your children. When you see their attention is waning, get them to focus on their task at hand so they will receive the full measure of their lesson times.

If you are thinking how to motivate your child to these standards I would say that you train your child to give of his best in all things. If your child needs bribed to do his lessons then you have a character problem that needs dealt with him. Do make sure the lessons are not to hard though. Although she was against giving grades to your child’s lessons, she did suggest natural rewards such as allowing some quiet leisure time if he finished his work early so long as it doesn’t interrupt your other children and their studies. Have an encouraging word for your children’s efforts in academics and their daily tasks.

Each of us here know that we cherish those encouraging words from someone and your children will as well. In our well-meaning efforts we can find ourselves expecting perfection. It sounds like a good thing but when we become a daily “editor” over our child’s copy work, too often that can create discouragement; frustration in our children’s hearts. I would suggest that you encourage them in a standard of excellence. In every task your child does, from making a bed to math lessons, encouragement on your part as their parent will help them to be motivated to please you. The earlier you start, the better you will be contributing to the growing abilities and skills of your child. Inspiration is better than condemnation. Charlotte wrote, “What the spring is to the year, school days are to our life….because that which we get in our youth we keep through our lives.”

I wanted to add here that I told my children many times that I wanted them to have a love of learning and if they did they would always have that. This week, my daughters received a box of many books. They are taking an herbal course that is 9 months long and they have to commit to studying 3 hours a week. The books are challenging and when they get done they will receive no monetary reward but they will have given time and effort for the joy of knowledge’s sake. This is something you can look forward to in your journey’s end of home schooling.

Copywork was another aspect of a Charlotte Mason school day. Copywork can be one of the greatest tools to teach your child how to write. It instills the discipline of writing each day. It gives a purpose for writing. It helps the child to learn mechanics of writing in a relaxed way. They learn spelling without lists and spelling tests. They don’t even have to deal with the content of their writing while still struggling with learning the skill of writing. They learn grammar without drills and endless lectures. They learn vocabulary naturally without memorizing unrelated definitions for tests. They learn sentence structure without endless hours of diagramming sentences.

A few examples of how to use Copywork are:

l. Copy one short sentence phrase from Bible verses, quotes, etc.
2. Work up to longer passages. Lengthy passages will take several days to complete.
3. You may collect passages for copying from biographies, letters, Scriptures, novels, poetry, history texts, classics, passages and so on.
4. As your child grows older and more accustomed to writing, you will want to take the passages and dictate them to the child. This will give them the added challenge of placing punctuation marks correctly, spelling and setting up the work without a model.

If you begin this when your child is young, you have laid a foundation for your student to not only be able to write but to actually enjoy it!

In all your academics, you will find narration and copy work extremely valuable. With the revival of Charlotte Mason educators all over the world, curriculums have been developed that follow the philosophies of her educational teachings. Living books are once again highly valued and old books are being printed and in the hands of our young people. You can be sure you will never lack a book at this time in our history to cover any chosen topic to study.

After disciplining your family with the reading, history, math, etc. you need to take time for the Arts. If you do not take naturally to music or art this might not seem important. But I feel confident that once you open the door to the Arts you will not look back. Betty Carlson said in her book, The Gift of Music, this: “The more we acquaint ourselves with that which is truly great and beautiful the more we will dislike and turn away from that which is shallow and ugly.”
Everyone is busy but you must take time to enjoy the beautiful in life. I am talking about music and art appreciation, the beautiful language that can be found in poetry. Picture Studies were introduced to the classroom from the beginning in a Charlotte Mason class. The child learned to express as well appreciate the art.

Some how-to’s for picture studies are:
l. Show the print giving them plenty of time to look and enjoy. You can actually teach all of your children at the same time.
2. Discuss the print with your children…do not lecture or explain or worry about finding commentaries or guides to help you study art. The key is to listen.
3. Turn the print over and let the child describe the details from memory. This can be in the form of a narration or drawing or discussion. You will find that your children are remarkably attentive. They will see incredible details. They can sketch or paint as well.
4. Turn the prink back over to see how accurate they were.
5. Leave the print out for the children to come back to it during the week. At the end of the week, discuss the painting and details that were or were not enjoyed from the print.
6. Read stories about the artists.

Music Studies:
l. For music studies pick one composer to study every six months (or some families add a new one every six weeks)
2. Listen to only one of his/her great works
3. When interest peaks, read a biography about the composer. Allow the children to narrate a sketch of the composer for their Music Notebooks.
4. Once the family is pretty familiar with the composer’s work, introduce more works by that composer.

One more disciplined study I want to share is Poetry.
l. Use poetry for reading aloud, copy work and recitation.
2. Post copies of poetry around the home.
3. Take time to enjoy poetry. You may want to add poetry studies to your evening read alouds.
4. Make a notebook with collections of beloved poetry for each child.
5. Focus on one poet at a time. Savor the poems you love.
6. Remember to pull in poetry in all of your studies.

I would like to read a poem to you by Amy Carmichael titled:

When I refuse the easy thing for love of my dear Lord,
And when I choose the harder thing for love of my dear Lord,
And do not make a fuss or speak a single grumbling word,
That is discipline.

When everything seems going wrong and yet I will not grouse,
When it is hot, and I am tired, and yet I will not grouse,
But sing a song and do my work in school and in the house,
That is discipline.

When Satan whispers, “Scamp your work--to say to him, “I won’t,”
When Satan whispers, “Slack a bit”--to say to him, “I won’t,”
To rule myself and not to wait for others’ “Do” and “Don’t”
That is discipline.

When I look up and triumph over every sinful thing,
The things that no one knows about--the cowardly, selfish things--
And when with heart and will I live to please my glorious King;
That is discipline.

To trample on that curious thing inside me that says “I,”
To think of others always--never, never of that “I,”
To learn to live according to my Savior’s word, “Deny”,
That is discipline.



At August 21, 2010 at 2:22 PM , Anonymous Positive Parenting said...

We have started positive reinforcement with the kids. They are bucking against it, but all proudly display their chore charts and bug us to mark off the completed items.


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