Tuesday, August 4, 2009


So, we're homeschooling again this fall. As many of you know, we've done this before, when the older 3 were in elementary school. And as many of you also know, homeschooling is not our first choice for education for our children. We take very seriously the baptismal vows we give (and receive) when babies are baptized; we feel it is our responsibility to assist other parents in training their children, and that it is an important privilege and sacred duty for other Christian adults to participate in the training of our children. We feel the best way for that to happen is in a Christian school.

But Christian schools aren't perfect, and some aren't even close. And situations change, jobs change, finances change. This fall, we don't have a Christian school option, so we're picking our #2: homeschooling. And I'm rather excited about it!

Here's a picture of many of the high school texts I'll be using for Anna and Peter. They will be studying the same curriculum.

From left to right: 2 books on how to build a telescope at home, a dictionary,Moche's self-teaching guide to astronomy (recommended by S. Bauer), 2 copies of Harcourt's American Lit text (I taught this text for 5 years at Cono, and have my own copy that is all marked up), Bob Jones U.S. History text (I taught this for one year in Massachusetts), and 2 levels of Harcourt grammar.

Here are a few more: The History Encyclopedia is for Julia; the Algebra II text is for Anna and Peter, the spiral book is one of two teacher texts for the US History, and the two books on the top of the stack are both Speilvogel history books (Western Civ, and a book of documents for original sources). The big blue book on the side is the timeline for Julia.

Anna and Peter will do a more traditional, classroom curriculum: one textbook for each course, which is what they are accustomed to. You see here their math, science, history and literature studies. In addition, they will (hopefully) sing in the Community Chorus with me for a music credit, Peter will play soccer with our county recreation department team, they will do separate Bible studies. (Anna will do Luke, and Peter will do Acts, in a chronological, timeline study.)Anna has finished her foreign language studies in high school. Peter has one more year of Spanish to do; I imagine we'll do that with the local community college next school year.

But Julia -- ah, Julia. A bright child. A good reader and writer. Loves to learn and is eager for homeschooling to start. Tired of classroom antics, lack of classroom discipline, naughty boys and and snarky girls. Julia will be in 5th grade: the perfect time to begin her on a logic stage classical study.

Adam and I fell in love with the whole concept of classical education several years ago. Now, a real classical study is hard work for both teacher and student, but the rewards are huge. So I'm planning to give Julia the kind of education that I wanted, that Adam had to piece-meal give to himself, the kind that you can hardly find in any school these days, particularly in the public system.

A classical model presents material in an orderly, chronological system, showing the connections among disciplines. It invites the student to participate in the age-old conversations about big ideas, which are found in the great books of our culture (and other cultures). Instead of relying on modern educators' evaluations of history, literature, math or science (which interpretations include inaccuracies, guesswork, and anti-biblical agendas), a classical model presents the student with original sources as much as possible, and in larger pieces than a typical modern textbook. It requires a lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of talking, and a lot of thinking.

Here are some books I've procured for Julia for the fall. She will be starting at the beginning: the ancient era. I'm using Susan Bauer's book as a model, generally speaking.

From the bottom up: 100 Things You Should Know About Mummies, Pyramid, City (both by Macaulay), The Romans, Famous Men of Rome, The Ancient City, Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament, The Legend of Odysseus, 2 Dover coloring books (Egypt and Rome), How the Universe Works, How the Earth Works (which Julia is scouring the house for because she's lost it already. That what happens when your child is so excited about new school books that she can't wait for the first day of class!), Exploring Creation with Astronomy, Writing Strands, Abeka Language B with student tests, Oxford's First Ancient History, Latin is Fun, and Bob Jones Math 5. We also have a new book of logic puzzles for her to begin logic study.

You'll notice that Julia has a much broader range of texts from which to glean information. This will encourage her to make connections among the books she's reading. Of course, this stack doesn't include the fiction she'll be reading (books like The Bronze Bow, Black Ships before Troy, or The Eagle of the Ninth, which she read for summer reading).

Julia's work will focus on summarizing and evaluating portions of reading, doing science experiments, doing daily grammar work, and discussing history and literature with me.

The children have completed their most challenging summer reading: Julia read The Eagle of the Ninth and A Single Shard; Anna read The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby; Peter read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Red Badge of Courage. They all wrote reports on these, evaluating plot and character development and searching for theme and author's intent. The girls have also finished their other 5 books of their choice, and their reports on those books. Peter is still working on his final 3.

Hopefully, I'll keep you apprised of how our year is going. Many of my family members homeschool their children, so our choice this year is normal in those circles. But some of you may still have reservations about homeschooling. Perhaps watching us work our way through our tasks this year, and seeing how the children handle them, will clarify homeschooling for you.


  1. I have taught from the PH Algebra books, but it has been a while.
    My kids have mixed feelings about homeschooling, as do I. It seems to correlate to their personalities. My oldest thinks it would be a punishment as she is very gregarious. And, to be fair, she is not an independent learner. My middle child would love nothing more than to stay home with me. My little one isn't too sure.
    My take? At the moment, our school system does a good job & is willing to work with parents & students. Otherwise, I would do what I had to do.

  2. Wow MK! Sounds great and amazing! I can't wait to hear about it along the way.


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