Classical Homeschooling: Staying the Course

by Edie Wadsworth on January 21, 2010

I find myself at a bit of crossroads in my homeschooling journey. For the sake of those who are new to this blog, I’m in my second year of homeschooling my two littlest children—7 and 9, both doing 3rd grade*ish work—after quitting my job 3 years ago as a family practice physician. I have loved being a stay-at-home mom, I have loved homeschooling, and I am completely enamoured with the classical model for teaching children. I follow a blend of Charlotte Mason/ The Thomas Jefferson Education/ The Well Trained Mind. I have only had one episode of locking myself in my bathroom for two hours and sobbing uncontrollably. All in all, it’s been a wonderful journey: spending oodles of time with my children, shepherding their hearts and learning alongside them.

The classical model of learning is demanding for parents.

It requires that you and your children read the great classic works of literature, math and science and then discuss these works together. It assumes that when children are inspired by parents or teachers or mentors, they will want to learn and will do the work necessary to gain the knowledge they seek. The end result is a student who is a self-learner, who is motivated by the love of knowledge itself—not for some secondary gain of grades, treats or approval. And it is a delicate balance that seems difficult to attain. If you spend 40-50% of your days reading books, there’s not a lot of tangible evidence that you are acquiring or mastering anything. Worksheets are much easier to hold up as proof of your efforts. It’s not so easy to appreciate and evaluate a head full of adventures and stories and imagination. And it’s sometimes easier to say, “You go do these 7 pages and I’ll see you in an hour.” It can be harder to say, “Let’s go read Shakespeare together and then let’s read Pilgrim’s Progress together and then you read The Magician’s Nephew aloud to me and then let’s talk about it all.”

But a series of worksheets and tests—especially in the home setting, at an early age—- tends to snuff out the fire, the burning desire in all of us to know something, just for the sake of knowing it. For example, I used the Veritas program last year to teach Bible—full of worksheet after worksheet to evaluate comprehension—and none of us liked it. It made the wonderful, harrowing stories of the Old Testament seem dull and dry. This year, we’ve just been reading about the life of Jesus—from the actual Bible— and comparing the differences found in the various gospels. Just the Bible and its’ stories, without an interfering ‘textbook’ , without any way to ‘test’ what they’ve read, and their comprehension is impeccable. They find differences that I miss.   They read the parables and stories aloud for themselves and it is simple, but powerful. Charlotte Mason makes the point in her writing that we put too many obstacles between the child and the material and now I see what she means. Introduce children to the characters of classical literature and they will be smitten.
elea

The classical model is also the ultimate in delayed gratification.

For days, weeks, and months, there seems to be very little to ‘show’ for all your labor. You’ve read all kinds of books, you’ve fallen in love with stories, authors and characters. The books you’ve read have changed you; the stories have become part of the fabric of who you are, you dream of the characters, you call them to mind in certain situations and you feel like you know them . You are becoming part of the ‘great conversation’. You are starting to realize how you ‘fit’ into this big wonderful world and its’ story.

But that rich inner life that is developing cannot be measured or tested. It’s like a fire that needs careful feeding, lest it be quenched. And that fire is what will motivate students to educate themselves—to be lifelong learners. Learning is hard work and if you push too hard and demand ‘work’ for the sake of work—they learn to do the least amount that’s necessary to avoid conflict. But if you inspire, nourish– ‘feed’ the fire, if you will—they will be driven by something strong and unquenchable inside themselves and there are no limits to what they will do to learn. I wish there were an easier way; but this form of teaching succeeds most assuredly when you lead by example. Which sometimes leaves me face to face with my own inadequacies and deficits. And when I get stressed, I start demanding results, which leads to fire-quenching. You see the vicious cycle.

So, here is my dilemma. I know I’m at a critical point with my girls. So far, I don’t think I’ve quenched the fire. But my human nature wants something tangible. I want a report card that says my student made all A’s and here are the worksheets and tests to prove it. I want cold hard facts and all I’ve got is a stack of books with tattered, worn pages. To make matters worse, I faced every homeschooling mothers’ worst fear last month: the soul-shaking, “No offense Mom, but I think I want to go to ‘real’ school next year”. The pleas to go to ‘real’ school have only surfaced when there is conflict between us and I know in my heart that I need more time with them. The fire is started but it’s not blazing yet. Perhaps I need a good pep talk from Charlotte Mason; her books will give you every reason to stay the course. Maybe it’s time to schedule a field trip to a play or a museum. It could be time to watch youtube and learn how to salsa dance. More than likely, it’s just the January blues that all homeschoolers experience. We all grow restless for something bigger and better.

I need a full measure of patience: to stay the course, to snuggle by the fire and read—fighting the pressure to produce something more tangible for the world to see, to mentor my girls by continuing to educate myself and to continue to inspire them by my own love for learning.


The one measurable thing we do frequently is memorization. We’re currently working on Psalm 40, the states and capitals, a poem, and the small catechism. We memorized a poem this fall that the girls recited in the front of the camera today called, ” Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for fun and Perished Miserably”. There’s something comforting, substantial and verifiable about oral recitation. I guess it’s our form of grades.

Take it away girls! I give you an A+! Then, we’ll resume our post by the fire.

{Update coming soon on how our specific subjects are progressing}

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Gina Williams January 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Sis, I never get tired of seeing those two faces light up when they are reciting something. They speak it with such emotion and are so engaged in the story they are telling. I am SOOOO proud of you all and what you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that makes homeschooling look like it is the only way to educate our children. Wish I had it in me to do the same. Keep up the good work, even in the cold, dreary month of January. Emme and Elea are lucky to have you!

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2 Southern Gal January 21, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Thanks. I needed that. I’ve been using Sonlight with my youngest and feeling slightly frustrated. Not at my son, but at myself for the expectations I’ve placed on him. He learns differently than my older two (graduated and in college – both of them – Yay!). I fear I’m quenching the fire of his 7-year-old heart. I recently purchased a used copy of The Charlotte Mason Companion and am trying to back off some and enjoy the process. I love reading how others homeschool. See? Even the newbies can teach the veterans!
Thanks again.

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3 Jessica @ These Are The Days January 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Edie,

I totally agree with all you’ve said about these methods, as I myself use the same three. First of all, you’re probably right about the field trip. With Kade having only been back home since the first of January, we’re kind of back in the ‘honeymoon’ phase I guess you could say but…I have already seen great progress in his reading (and everything else). I am working on a post about the importance of narration. It’s a great way to see they’re retaining the words and yesteray Kade did a small book report. It was simple, a picture and half page of writing, but still SO much better than just filling in a worksheet.

One reason I regret putting Jaxon back in public school is, he and Kade aren’t bonding the way they used to. Jaxon is all about his friends (not at all about his studies or family) and he’s only 11. Family life is different.

Have you thought about having Fun Friday’s? We are doing only Math on Friday’s and the rest of the day is for library visits and field trips.

I guess I would just say trust the process, it works. Progress may not show as quick as you like or in the obvious ways, but soon you will sit back and be amazed with the leaps and bounds their education has taken. Not only that, I’ve seen my nieces and nephews graduate from homeschool with total gratitude and appreciation for the gift their mom gave them.

Take a break from the books and go have some fun, it’s sure to get you out of that funk. You’re doing awesome!!

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4 Jessica @ These Are The Days January 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

BTW, You’re girls rocked that memorization and Sophia is loving it. She’s made me replay it several times for her. :)

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5 Tracie January 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

After 15 years of homeschooling (6 of our 8 children), I can tell you that these moments will continue to come upon you and then pass. What I find is that I’m looking for some sort of worldly measure of our success, and that’s not really what I need to be looking for. Pray and wait it out, sister. Soon you’ll get that little verification that reminds you how “worth it” it is.

I gave in twice to the “I think I want to go to the public school”. Don’t do it. You’ll lose them. Just remember that God put YOU in charge of them for a reason and that you know what’s best for them. Explain that to them as gently as you can when the subject arises.

Three of ours have “finished” and are now adults, and I wouldn’t change a thing about their homeschooling; despite the fact that I wasn’t always as diligent as I should/could have been. They are such wonderfully intelligent, thoughtful young people; and it was all well worth the struggle.

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6 Corrine January 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I never home-schooled my son, but read(and sang) to
him constantly from the time he was
in the womb to middle school age. Then he read
aloud as well.

Parental involvement in any form is the key
to helping your child become a life long
learner and even when we don’t think they listen,
if we do then they will do. I am proud to say
that my son at 24 reads all the time, learns
new things all the time.

Great idea about sending children’s clothes to
Haiti…as well as all the other things we can do,
even if we don’t have small children anymore, there
are lots of nice clothes at the thrift stores we could
sends as well.

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7 shelly January 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Way to go! Keep at it…we get the “real” school thing every so often from our oldest (9). Its true that this happens mostly when we are battling wills! I just found classical ed. this past year and I love it (3 prev years of page after page of wookbooks…blah!)

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8 Get Your Martha On (Anne) January 21, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Hang in there!

I have no great words of advice, but I’ve been there. Homeschooling is not for the lighthearted or the lazy. And it has an emotional component to it that paid teachers don’t have with a classroom of students. That emotional component can be wonderful and one of the best things about homeschooling, but it can also be used against us parents when the kids are frustrated or not trying their hardest.

They don’t know what’s best for them. You do. You are doing a fabulous job. And look on the bright side: you apparently live in a state that doesn’t require a paper trail to prove you’re doing your job as a homeschooling parent, otherwise you’d be up to your ears in those silly tests and worksheets just to please the powers-that-be. That’s an awesome freedom. :)

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9 homemaker, md January 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Thank you! Thanks for your honesty about the hard parts and the resilience you are demonstrating. As I’m 10 years behind you in the quitting-medicine-to-be-with-my-kid-full-time and am hoping, though not certain to homeschool, these sort of posts really help me think through the different approaches that can be taken. I love your blend of classical goodness. Generally when I read your blog and see my friends here who homeschool it realllllly makes me want to do it. My daughter is only 15 months so i guess i have time to figure it all out!

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10 Marie January 21, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Thank you so much for your honesty in this post. I’m planning to homeschool my boys next year. They are currently attending a private Christian school, which we love…but I’m ready to bring them home. I love the idea of classical education, but it is intimidating. My boys are 11 and 8, so I’m not sure how to cover the age difference. I also have a 2-year old, so I know there will be challenges. Thank you for sharing both your successes and struggles along the way. It helps me to have a realistic understanding of what I’m getting into :)

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11 Megan January 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

How fantastic!

Thank you for sharing….

We, too, have toyed with the idea of home schooling & will revisit the idea in the near future!

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12 Sherry January 21, 2010 at 2:56 pm

you are amazing!! i wish we could have coffee today. i bet your energy is incredible.

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13 Lisa January 21, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Thank you for that encouragement. You are so right on the January restlessness. I am there and your post today helped me remember to stay the course. Classical education is daunting but there is no better way. Amen.

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14 Vicki January 21, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Thank you for the honest post. It is great to see that others feel the same things we feel some days as a HS family.
One thing I wanted to share was Classical Conversations. Have you looked at it? We are looking into it for next year with our 2. Keep up the God honoring work!
Grace and Peace

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15 Tara January 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

loved this post…We do the Classical Approach with our boys…and let me just tell you….trying to get 2 boys, 7 and 9, to sit still and ENJOY memorizing and reading and more memorizing and reading..WOW, it’s a true struggle on some days. I, like you, have found that my hardest days are the days when I wake up needing to SEE results..in the form of papers and tests. If I’m honest, I’d have to admit that those days are all about ME..ME…ME. It makes ME feel good about ME when I can SHOW the wonderful and great results of all of MY hard work with the boys in schooling them. YUCK…such YUCK coming out of my heart!

I’m praying for you and the girls today!

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16 Cristal Ruiz January 21, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Hang in there. My daughter is planning on homeschooling and she is planning on doing what we call generational teaching it’s when the whole family is involed Mom, Dad, and Grandparnets. So she will not lack for teachers as well as things to learn.
Holly

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17 Margaret C January 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Hi. I don’t see any posts up there from actual school teachers and I wanted to chip in with some of our current thinking. Two things to mention right up front – firstly, I have never heard of the systems your using (but I LOVE that you are exploring classics !!! I read my way through childhood !) and secondly, I am a Primary teacher (ages 5-12) in Scotland so I know NOTHING about the curriculum etc in the States. In Scotland, we are starting out on a new system called Curriculum for Excellence (you can get all the info by googling it) It is so much more child based than our old one and much more focussed on the EXPERIENCES children have than the outcome(eg tests) That excites me – although cynical ol’ me reckons it won’t be long before they give us a way to test them without calling it ‘assessment’ or ‘testing’!!! The other prong that is strongly being emphasised in my area just now is the concept of “active learning” (I think it’s also called cooperative learning elsewhere) which focusses on higher order thinking as opposed to testing if children can remember things !Many teachers (including myself) are struggling to shift from an assessment attitude to almost a trust attitude of “I’ve taught it well and appropriately. I know they can do it – that’s the evidence” Lucky you – you don’t have to trust a teacher to be honest, effective and work hard, you know that’s what you are doing. Anyhow, after all that, what I’d like you to take away from this is that I think you’re doing a great job, and no-one knows your children better than you ( except God, but I figure you know that already !!!) If you reckon they need “something” more physically active, throw it in the mix. AS I say, I don’t know the system you are using, but there are ways of “assessing” a child’s learning without resorting to worksheets – making a book/poster about an experience, writing their own blurb – check out active learning ideas (remember it’s not simply physically doing something – the active refers to the learning as opposed to passive learning) The other thing i suggest you do is actually a test…!!! My personal reseach into metacognition has led me into thinking about multiple intelligences and how they affect our learning. This is VERY difficult to put into place with a class of 33, but much more manageable with 2!! There are a couple of child-friendly tests out there to investigate HOW your child is smart, and some great material for using what you have learned to help your child approach learning tasks ( a really good, child-friendly book about this is “You’re Smarter Than You Think: A Kid’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences”
by Thomas Armstrong. One last point about the “I wanna go to real school” – what is it that they think will be better? I don’t know if you’ve talked their response through with them – please excuse me if that’s an obvious thing !! – but, and I say as a good teacher in a good school, there is a flipside to everything …and you’d still have to read the classics and memorise poems in my class !!! I hope something in here helps or encourages you – just as you r site does for me. Bless xx

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18 molly January 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I sure needed to hear this today. I go back and forth several times daily about whether or not I am doing this right. Am I ruining my children? Are they really learning? Am I making them lazy? I have to step back, and take time to read CM and some encouraging blogs (hint,hint), and refocus. I have to give myself a break, this is just our first year. It is a learning curve for me and my boys. But, boy do I have trouble keeping my mind from spinning out of control. Thanks for your sincere words, your honesty really does help us who think everyone else has it together but us.

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19 Margaret C January 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Sorry, I know I’ve taken up MILES but I also wanted to comment on
Get Your Martha On (Anne)’s comment. She’s wrong that teachers don’t have an emotional component in their work simply because we get paid. I was a late entrant to education (from science) and do it because I can’t imagine not teaching – by which I mean supporting, encouraging, leading, responding, enjoying, guiding, hoping, rejoicing and, very often praying. The bits that I can’t hand in with my planning folder to management. And if that’s not enough emotion, how many home-school parents have to daily watch over a child that they know is being abused through neglect, and know there is nothing they can actually do about it? As I said aboove, no-one knows your child better than a GOOD parent, but I have contact with a class of children for 5 hours a day, and it is impossible not to have a strong “emotional component”

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20 Margaret C January 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm

SO THERE!!!! (sorry – realised I got a tad overwrought there – it’s been a tough day at the chalkface! Please excuse my growl – we’ve had a fair chunk of teacher-bashing going on over here recently !!!)

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21 K January 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I wanted to comment from the point of view of a previously home-schooled kid :) I was home-schooled 6-12 grade and would not trade that time for anything. There were times of struggle – my crying, my Mom crying, siblings – but being together, struggling together, it made us much closer as a family & at 27 I am still incredibly close to my parents and siblings. It was a wonderful, unique way to grow up. Interactive parents is crucial & I commend you for what you do with your children. It may be hard now, but the rewards are great!

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22 Vicki K January 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Your blog has been an inspiration to me for a few months now…especially enjoyed the Christmas projects in December and your recent Til We Have Faces post.

You hit the nail on the head about ‘producing something tangible for the world to see.’ That’s so normal to feel and especially for high achievers (I feel presumptuous saying that but I’m guessing…) used to some regular sort of feedback.

I did a blend of methods – as you describe – but the biggest emphasis for us was reading. Sometimes they read to me, but I did the lion’s share of reading aloud (even through 10th grade), because I wanted to know the story and be able to discuss it and make references to things we had already learned or relate it to others things in our day.

While my children were homeschooled, I would talk about being able to do this or that, or about having the flexibility or the lack of crowds when doing something because of our homeschool schedule. They started to see the many advantages and after awhile pointed them out themselves. Maybe talking about this casually (not when they start the ‘no offense, Mom…’) would help? Maybe you already do this?

I think one of most difficult situations is having some children in school and some homeschooled. You lose some of the flexibity by having to adhere to a school schedule, but still do all of the nose-to-the grindstone work for homeschooling. So, yes, it is demanding!

Are you required to have your children tested annually for your state? At least once a year I had a formal “proclamation” about their academic progress, which was helpful.

The talk with your girls after the meltdown was wonderful – I loved the honesty but also setting down the leadership aspect. My friend also told her kids that she was responsible to God for their training and that she wasn’t about to slip up on that.

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23 Renee January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

I love what you have said here. I would say about 40% of my kids’ day involves some kind of worksheet. They have a phonics and spelling workbook. They are currently using a Maps workbook to enrich what we are learning in Geography (so they can use maps well). But the parts of the day that we all cherish and remember are spent reading and discussing, and doing hands-on things together. I love Charlotte Mason and the classical method. I taught at a classical school before having children. But my boys really need more hands-on enrichment. They tend to remember and enjoy more when we follow up reading with building/making/doing. We are very messy and active. Even on our worst days, I love learning beside them. And that’s one reason why I love to read your blog. I can tell you enjoy life, learning, and your role in your family. What glory you are bringing to God!

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24 gina January 21, 2010 at 6:45 pm

The way they read with inflection shows the spark is still there! I miss homeschooling SO much- even though it was really good for them to go back- Shaye NEEDs peers to LEAD and that was something I couldn’t provide her :( – I miss, miss, miss it! Hang on to it as long as you can!!!!!

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25 SoCalLynn January 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

A friend of mine is traveling with her family in an RV, homeschooling all the while. They are having a blast seeing America, growing closer to each other, and most of all growing in their faith. She wrote a wonderful blog post about why we homeschool our children that you might like to read. http://blogginbridget.blogspot.com/2010/01/thoughts-from-mom-stuck-in-rv-again.html

I read your blog quite frequently and am always inspired by your homeschooling posts. I would say I am a relaxed Charlotte Mason/eclectic schooler, and some days I just don’t see the progress and need to remind myself that it is a long journey. (My daughter is 10) I want her to be inspired to learn, and just last night I caught?observed her looking at the art cards I recently purchased. We had been discussing Rennaissance art, specifically Jan van Eyck and it sparked her curiousity. THAT’s why I do this.

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26 Ruth January 21, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I love the Charlotte Mason method. We try to read great books here, too. It is harder to gauge what they are accomplishing but well worth it. My favorite is that I am getting to read books I have always wanted to but never did. I am learning right along with them.

Ruth

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27 Julie Harward January 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

HOW SWEET IS THAT?! I GIVE THEM AN A+ TOO! I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU DO IT, AND I KNOW A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE DOING IT NOW. IF I HAD TO SEND MY KIDS TO SOME OF THESE SCHOOLS, I WOULD DO IT TOO. RAISING MY 8 KIDS, IT WAS NICE TO SEND THEM OFF TO SCHOOL! BUT NOW, IN THESE TIMES, I WOULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ELSE. I’M SO GLAD YOU ARE HAVING FUN WITH IT! COME SAY HI :D

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28 Lee Ann January 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Just wanted to encourage you! My mom gave up teaching in the classroom to homeschool my sister & I from (well, really birth) all the way through high school. I graduated high school with a year of college under my belt (all As) & proceeded to graduate from college with honors & a teaching degree. I say all this not to brag on myself–but definitely on my mother. She had so many of the same struggles, especially having been immersed in the public education system. But, she never gave up–even when we tried to give up on her or on school. I’m so grateful! I look forward (with slight fear & trepidation) to homeschooling my 17-month-old little girl & her soon-to-arrive brother & have already begun the process with lots & lots of reading. Looks like it’s going well so far because my little girl can’t seem to get enough of books & wants to read to me, her dad, her little brother…etc. all the time! Way to invest in your children in such a precious way–stay the course!

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29 Baby Mama Elyse January 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I <3 this post. I have always wanted to do homeschooling.

I say yes and yes to a field trip and you tube salsa dancing.

try not to get caught up in the measureable-ness of their learning. having gone through a standard public school education, i know exactly what you mean by quenching the fire and doing just enough to get by. it is not satisfying. a desire to learn and devour knowledge will be MUCH better in the end :)

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30 Sarah January 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Hi Edie, the homeschooling journey is certainly not an easy one just like the narrow road is not easy, but we press on, we pray up, we stand up, knowing full well that the creator of the universe is holding our hands and that our little humans are the Lord’s children.

Coming into the new year the words ‘God is in control’ were ringing in my soul and everything I seem to read and study or sermons I am listening to resonate those words, and even though I have heard them like a zillion times, meditating on these words and resting in that place has made my road steady!

How truly blessed we are to serve and know our Good God and know that our lives are in His hands.

Your girls expression in reciting this poem is remarkable…just brilliant! Keep up the good work!

Lot’s of love Sarah xxx

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31 Lanie January 21, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Edie!!! What a wonderful post! You inspire me with your passion for learning! Your girls are adorable of course doing their memorization. My Daughter who is smack dab in the middle of their ages loves watching their videos and each time she does she begs me to homeschool her again!!! I don’t have quite the same touch as you do I try to tell her!

Great job!

Lanie

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32 Brooke January 21, 2010 at 10:18 pm

As a second grade teacher, I struggle with this precise struggle. How to make 21 children love to read…without giving them worksheets and boring them to tears. In the new 21st centurly learning, there is a lot of work that children can do on computers that keeps them engaged without sitting them with worksheets. I do agree that it’s hard to ‘assess’ life skill. You are teaching them how to read, appreciate and love literature. By doing this, you are setting them up for a life where they will know how to study God’s word and read anything they wish with meaning. Teachers in a classroom have a much harder time making sure this happends…(thus, why you homeschool, I’m sure!)
I completely admire what you do, and I have tossed around the idea for the day when I have my own children. Thanks for sharing the struggle!
Brooke

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33 The Following Guide January 22, 2010 at 12:09 am

Thank you. Today, of all days, I desperately needed this post. I WILL stay the course with you.

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34 The Following Guide January 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

One more thing…as I was praying in the shower–crying out to Gos is more like it–He spoke to me using something I read in When You Rise Up by RC Sproul Jr.: “Are you teaching them who I am, what I have done, and what I require? Then, your teaching is successful!” (see Joshua 1:8-9)

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35 Angela @ Homegrown Mom January 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

Holy moley, I kid you not, FOUR MINUTES ago I told my husband I was seriously tempted to give up on Tapestry of Grace. I LOVE TOG but it is getting hard on me. Then I said, well quitting isn’t an option, this is how I want our kids educated. But I was secretly considering Veritas. I’m not trying to be ridiculous, but I think God wanted me to read this. Thank you so much!

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36 Denise January 22, 2010 at 12:45 am

It doesn’t matter–home or school–there will always be questions about it being enough or the right thing or what they need. The only difference is that when the answers are not ones you like while homeschooling, YOU have the ability to do something about it. You don’t have to wait a year or for a different teacher or for a committee to change the curriculum. KWIM?

You know I’m a huge proponent of narration as an evaluation tool. I still go back and read Tessa’s kindergarten work and am amazed each time. I know for a fact that all those classical read-alouds and books on tape have made her the reader and writer she is today. And the narration has made her really pay attention to the details. Her teachers have all told me that she comprehends hard works of literature much better than her other classmates.

I loved the video of the girls. :)

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37 Cheri January 22, 2010 at 1:26 am

Have you looked in to Learning Adventures? When my boys were those ages, we LOVED Learning Adventures. An awesome curriculum and was so fun. I had a blast, too!

http://www.learning-adventures.org/

It has a page that shows sample lesson plans, as well.

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38 Anna January 22, 2010 at 1:50 am

Hope this encourages you even the tiniest bit! You have been such an inspiration to me in the short time I have been reading your blog, like a month! I have a 3 year old daughter that I am struggling with what to do for her education. We live in an area where it is normal for me to send her to 3 yr old PreK next year to the tune of more money than we can afford. Reading what you have to say about homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, Classical Homeschooling has brought me to a place where I think maybe our family time, innocent learning, understanding small stories is MUCH more important than paying a lot of money to send her to “school.” I totally feel your insecurities here about are you doing the right thing and only you know the answer to that. Keep with it!!!!!! They are more than precious and watching that video brought tears of joy to my eyes!

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39 jen January 22, 2010 at 3:24 am

Thanks for this encouraging post! I always find this time of year so hard. I actually did a guest post about this not too long ago – ug! Hang in there; Spring isn’t too far away.

Also, have you asked your girls what they have learned? I’m guessing that once they listed the first couple items (always the hardest) they would have a long list of things they have learned and most of them would be things they were excited about. You’re doing a great job!

Finally, thanks for that adorable video. Can’t wait to have my little memorizers watch it and make their own!

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40 becca January 22, 2010 at 3:43 am

They did a great job~love their little expressions!!

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41 melissa stover January 22, 2010 at 4:33 am

you are completely right when you say the measured results are delayed for classical educators. i think this is one of the biggest fears to conquer when doing a classical education, or even charlotte mason, which i have since leaned more towards. (awkward sentence, yes?)

we do notebooks, not tests. draw pictures, not worksheets. we read and talk. i only test in math, spelling and english.

i began as a classical educator and burned out quickly. though, we still do it to some extent. i actually asked my kids a month ago, wouldn’t they like to go to real school say about 7th grade and try it out. they declined my offer.

i’m weary. mostly because i see myself doing the same thing over and over again (one of my littles is just beginning).

i will say that when you do see success, it’s thrilling. i have been hit with moments when i know it is all worthwhile and i actually see them growing, learning, but they are small, far-between moments. and i have to live for those times and toil on even when i feel like we’re accomplishing nothing at all.

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42 Jennifer January 22, 2010 at 5:24 am

Stay the course. You can do it! Honestly, the January blues are catching up with us here, too. Just a couple of days ago – after a run-in with stubborn multiplication tables – I asked my daughter to go somewhere quiet, by herself, and decide if she wanted to continue being homeschooled or if she wanted to go back to public school. About 40 minutes later she returned. She said, “Mommy, I really want to keep being homeschooled. I just really, really hate math.”
Trust God, trust your heart, trust your kids.
And I love that poem!

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43 mary katharine January 22, 2010 at 11:48 am

As others, your experiences are insightful and leave me with a little more to ponder. I was not brought up a reader and so the classical method has always been a challenge for me. I LOVE books, especially good ones, but because I was not trained in the discipline to be a reader, I face a lot of challenges. I’ve emailed you a couple of times … as you know I have five daughters (11, 8, 6, 3 and 1) and am the wife of a soldier. My husband is gone more than home and it can be difficult to “be there” for all five the way that I would enjoy. We use Veritas and enjoy it. I do read with my girls throughout the day, but I find it good for us all to have “work” to do. I think my girls enjoy seeing the fruits of their labors (as well as getting a cute sticker!! What is it about getting a sticker on a worksheet?!). I do feel very bogged down by papers at times and am THRILLED with Veritas’ new OT/History self paced online course. It is helpful for me … gives me 30 min of quiet time to unload dishes or just time to read a book to my 1 year old. It is also helpful for my girls because it gives them something different. I’ve scanned the other posts … my goodness, how do you ever get through them all??? … and I think like anything else, there is just a balance. I’m in no way a pro at homeschooling and am definitely learning everyday, but my answer to all who ask is “find a program that fits both you and your child.” Again, balance and never ending tweaking. Again, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Veritas, (and I don’t fully adhere to it … I incorporate other things), but I’m at the point in my life where I’m a little burnt out and seeking a change just for the sake of a change. One enticing approach I’ve discovered is the University Prep method. Have you heard of this? We’ve only lived in the ATL area for a year, but it is very popular here. Your children, depending on their ages, attend school for 2-3 days and can either take 1 class or a full day of classes. They have uniforms and field trips just like “real” school. I’m keeping it in mind for the future and you might want to see what’s out there in your area.

Many blessings! It is encouraging to know yet another parent is concerned about their children:). Always a great thing!! I will pray for direction for you and for sustainment. God will direct your paths and bless all that you do for His glory.

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44 Katrina January 22, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Hi Girlfriend,
Last year I put together a review book. I took two 3-ring binders for my two oldest boys. I made a list of field trips, activities, classes (sports) and then took some of their pages from each subject. (We use My Father’s World http://www.mfwbooks.com which is classical/literature/unit study/Charlotte Mason/multi-level/amazing.) So, I took one page from the beginning of the year and one from the end. I also had a book list and examples of certain projects we did. It took me about an hour to choose and put it all together.
I didn’t think much about this binder nor the info in it and how it would affect me. Well, let me tell you. Looking through it really did have an impact on me. I could easily see progress. Not test scores (most of those grade level public school tests are for funding anyhoo!) It made me look at our year as a whole and I said to my husband, “wow, look at what we did this year.” I saw the improvement in handwriting; a short “graph” of math skills learned; books completed…it wasn’t pride that came over me. It was a review for me…and what came out of that was encouragement to carry on. I am completely committed to homeschooling, but I too suffer from the mid-year blues and the mid-spring blues and the end-of-spring blues. It was something tangible for me to look at and process.
If you want to “test” math…try http://www.teachingtextbooks.com and they have placement tests right on-line. I’ve heard they place kids about a year behind something like Abeka, but you could see about what year they’d place.
You are doing a wonderful job. You encourage so many. Be encouraged yourself that God already knows your ups and downs. But, your decision isn’t based on your daily emotions. And, I know you know that already. But, it’s nice to hear you share and your honesty is an encouragement.

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45 micah murray January 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I have been dealing with the same feelings…but I am revved up again and ready to keep being obedient to the Lord:) Plus I know that this way of schooling is right. It is like your post about when you read the book about Hs and you said the truth was so bright that you wanted to cover your eyes….or something to that affect:) I know we are on the less traveled path of truth, and to be honest it can be a little lonely.
Thanks for this post. I love when you write…especially on this subject…you have been disipling me….I bet you did not even know that:)
http://www.amazon.com/Classical-Education-Susan-Wise-Bauer/dp/B002DUDQ7E/ref=sr_1_28?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1264176082&sr=8-28
Here is a link I just found yesterday…It is $.89 to download a mp3 from Amazon…It is Susan Wise Bauer speaking on classical education….Just the pep talk I needed to hear:)

BTW…Sure like the music option on the blog:)

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46 Debbie January 22, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Edie,
After 21 years homeschooling five children, I was able to study each one and cater to their learning styles. How did each child learn best: Listening to cd’s, watching videos, hands-on projects, oral expressions, written ideas/summations, etc.? These supplements don’t have to be big; small additions are good. (We always loved the creative parts – cooking, sewing, composing songs/poems, dancing, art projects, etc.)

The Youtube things are awesome for marking progress.

Also, involving them in outside activities (music lessons, dance, sports, art, volunteering…whatever her bent) and other friends who are homeschooling. Do not forget their involvement with grandparents/older friends. From your posts and pictures, you have a strong family life, and that’s key.

I would say try not to worry too much about the day-to-day issues, but keep the bigger picture in mind. Problems and emotions will always surface (you are three women!). Just keep your cool. Most things simmer down after a short time.

Enjoy the time. Pray a lot. Be creative. Have fun.
Schooling your children everyday is a JOB, but the end results are, oh, so worth it.

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47 Lana Austin January 22, 2010 at 4:32 pm

I have so much more to say than I have time to type, but I concur with you on everything. I’m actually going to pull my girls out of the classical school to do classical HOME (and I’ve done it before with my older daughter and know the perils and pitfalls and lock yourself in the bathroom crying moments oh-so-well, but I have to be obedient to what I feel is best for Kate) school again. It’s an exquisite school they’re at now and they have tons of magnificent memorization/a love for the classic literature, but it’s still a a “system” for the general population…and I truly believe that Kate’s doing far too many worksheets and not enough reading/thinking/dreaming–but that is of course from my egocentric paradigm because they are my children and I know them best–it’s not the school’s fault that Kate is an anomaly. More on her eager little mind and intrinsic zest for life, learning & the facility/ability that accommodates that at a later time. Gotta run. Loved the Lewis post, too. Tom just finished that one a couple of months ago and I’m starting it soon.
Blessings, Lana

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48 mary katharine January 23, 2010 at 1:05 am

One more thing I just thought about in regards to Veritas Bible (JUST in case you are ever in need of it again or of SOMETHING again) I did start using the handy little Sunday School lessons at the back. They are “condensed” versions of the lessons and make neat little mini-books. JUST so you know. They were never pointed out to me … I just sort of happened upon them …

SO jealous of your afternoons sewing …. my goal for one day …. working on a craft room and TIME (along with a dash of patience) for a craft room. For now, just happy it’s on the goal list!

To God be the Glory.

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49 Randa January 23, 2010 at 5:23 am

Edie,
You are already entrenched with your children in a world in which many of us want to live, but do not have the courage. The work you have already done in and with your children will benefit them for a lifetime…regardless of what path they take next year or the next ;)

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50 Donna January 23, 2010 at 5:33 am

I worry sometimes that my daughter will get curious about public education and want to “try it” someday. So when whenever we are on a field trip, or enjoying an ice cream cone or swimming during public school hours, or doing school in our jammies, or having lunch with Daddy…the list could go on forever…I say to her “I am so glad that we homeschool. If not, then we wouldn’t be doing this right now.”
Am I the only one?

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51 Kelly January 23, 2010 at 6:28 pm

We live in Middle Tennessee and send our girls to a private, Classical school. They are in first and second grade and we are so in love with their school! We never thought we would send our kids to private school, but we were so blown away by the Classical model and the end goal of education, that we knew this was where the Lord wanted our children to be. It is a leap of faith and sacrifice each year for us, but I know that we are walking in obedience. The payoff that we see in our girls is amazing. I can imagine that doing this as a homeschool mom would be extremely difficult and some days will be long. I know our homework can be! May God richly bless your journey to educate your girls!
Also, I grew up in Knoxville and absolutely love East Tennessee!
Blessings,
Kelly

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52 Kristi January 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Thanks again, Edie! You inspired me to read “The Well-Trained Mind” and investigate something I was very intimidated by and misinformed about. You encouraged me to give it a try. We are (our sixth year of schooling at home and the first with a classical approach). Now you encourage me by sharing your struggles which are so familiar to all of us who homeschool. Thanks so much for your transparency. Please know that the Lord is using you to encourage many…and specifically a small family in northern Indiana. Blessings to you ~

PS – The craft room is sooooo amazing! I am anxious for my little girl to become more coordinated, perseverent, and ready to do such things with me. She wanted to make a pillow recently, and we did. Perhaps she’s more ready than I think. :)

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53 Kristi January 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm

BTW, you are so right. Schooling at home is all about the parents’ discipline; we are constantly under an incredibly strong microscope to be viewed by ourselves, our children, and anyone else remotely paying attention. I am aware of my many shortcomings, but don’t stop to thank the Lord often enough for the growth He is working and desirous of causing in me. Thanks for the reminder there too!

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54 BeautifulWreck January 23, 2010 at 7:51 pm

We are Classical Homeschoolers. I am so glad we went this route. I am going slow with my boys because I find they really retain it but I teach year around. No one minds a bit. The Well Trained Mind is excellent. I also keep in hand The Educated Child by William Bennett. Some days are hard but you will reap the rewards and so will your girls.

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55 robin January 24, 2010 at 4:19 am

Thank you for sharing your heart on homeschooling, I have read most of your post on homeschooling, and I have very much enjoyed reading about your approach. You are doing a great job educating those girls which will be a great reward for them to enjoy through out their lifetime. As I am sure you know our children may not like us everyday, but when the are grown they will better understand the choices you made for them today and they will love you for it.
So keep it up!

BTW… I am new to homeschooling this year and your post have be a help to me.

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56 Ellen January 24, 2010 at 6:34 am

Your post on homeschooling goes straight to the heart of the matter – we are training the minds and hearts of these young children, to prepare them for the future God has for them, not doing things so that we can fill in blanks on a report card with A’s that noone will care about shortly after it’s done. I’m 43 years old, and I can’t remember what my elementary report card grades were, but I can tell you when I first read all the Little House books, and Little Women and many others. They are characters I know and love and feel I have grown up with them. I read Jane Austen for the first time this year with my 13 year old daughter, and we talk about her characters like they are members of our family. Oh, the power of the written language woven into a delightfule tale!

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57 Julia in WDM January 24, 2010 at 3:55 pm

We do classical charlotte mason, have since the beginning eleven years ago. have you looked at charlotte’s words on habits? and you are right about the time of year. in iowa, it hit everyone around feb. my kids are dual enrolled, which means that the public school allows them to attend a couple classes with the mainstreamed peers. i think it definitely takes the edge off the desires to be “over there” all day.

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58 sara's art house January 25, 2010 at 2:29 am

I loved this post! The very best part of our day is when we are sitting and reading together.

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59 lindsey - the pleated poppy January 25, 2010 at 4:11 am

this is so good to hear! we also home school classically, and it is tough to do! i am excited to talk a little school over our weekend together!

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60 julie January 25, 2010 at 4:26 am

i am so thankful for your honesty! we use mostly charlotte mason and i wanted to share with you a site that has been a huge help to me. http://www.charlottemasonhelp.com/
God is sooo blessing your journey!! Someone told me this years ago……God does not choose the ones he has gifted – he gifts the ones he chose! or somehting like that!!

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61 ChristyF January 25, 2010 at 5:23 am

I fear that I may have already quenched the fire and my son is only four. I truly feel lost with homeschooling and don’t know what I should do. I’m even considering enrolling him in preschool because I just don’t know how I can get his love for learning back. Any advice??

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62 Hayden January 26, 2010 at 1:55 am

Hang in there! There is no comparison to the education they are receiving. The pressure from “outside” is trying and makes you insecure at times, but nobody who hasn’t homeschooled has a clue about what they are talking about when they try give you advice and opinions.

Just compare Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation to the current President’s Thanksgiving “talk”. It’s pretty obvious which school of education does a better job training the mind :)

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63 Jacqui June 22, 2013 at 11:38 pm

I’m starting homeschooling and I’m interested in this philosophy. Reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s tutelage under The Great Knock. My hesitancy in not frequently testing or using worksheets, is the difficulty kids may have in the future when transitioning into a more conventional educational setting with deadlines and testing.

I took a lot of science and math in college and it was all about deadlines and oftentimes unpleasant, labor intensive work. Work I never would have chosen to do but for me the end (my chosen career) justified the means. I suppose if I had had more science in high school, it may not have seemed so difficult. Still, I imagine the constant deadlines and testing of these courses to be very challenging to a person who was brought up without them.

Liberal Arts courses may be a breeze to someone brought up in this method. However, I suspect medical and engineering majors, with so many courses that require labor intensive, focused study, to be more challenging.

My comment is influenced by my recent observation of the difficulty I observed a former homeschooler having with deadlines after enrolling into a private high school.

I want my child to feel comfortable with either a liberal arts or science/math major. I’m hoping I can find a way that he will. We are considering having my spouse give deadlines, tests and grading homework so that our son will be used to it if and when he transfers into a more conventional setting.

This is all in theory as we are just at the beginning of this journey.

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64 Lori January 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I LOVED this post! Do y’all do Classical Conversations? I have two boys and have homeschooled them going on 6 years now, and we love “CC” which we do here in Rock Hill, SC.
And I just have to say, even though I don’t know you, I just love you! Sisters in Christ, we are, maybe that is one of the many reasons. And, the fact that you’re so witty and downright REAL! Keep up the wonderful work. It is SO appreciated.

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