I know I said somewhere that I was done offering homeschooling advice, but it's February and everyone's burned out. So here's my offering to everyone considering overhauling everything next August:
Play to your strengths.
I had a chance to talk to Bearing when her family visited us over New Year's, and she made a remark that stayed with me: Each homeschooling family is running a magnet school, focused on their own interests. Some families are going to be big on scientific experiment and field trips. Some families like structure and are very good at sticking to a plan and getting prescribed work done on a schedule. Some families love literature and art. Some excel at hands-on stuff. And that's fine. My homeschool doesn't have to look like your homeschool, which doesn't have to look like her homeschool. That's why specific advice is often unhelpful, because it grows out of one family's particular way of functioning.
My strength is that I like to read aloud, and I like good literature. We're not aces at science, we're basic with the math, and I hate getting people out the door, but I could spend all day sitting in the big chair reading to people in the living room and discussing what we read. So each morning, that's what we do. We start with prayer, read the daily Mass readings and talk about them as we go, read a meditation and have about 30 seconds of silent prayer, and then a chapter or two of our current piece of literature (right now it's Emma). In the afternoon I sit with the 1st and 3rd graders and read a chapter of a book (Charlotte's Web) and a chapter of A Little History of the World.
This is fun and easy for me. I repeat: this is not onerous. I don't feel like our day has properly started if for some reason we have to miss our readings. I think literature is extremely important, and I think that reading aloud to children has many benefits that manifest throughout life, but also, I like doing reading aloud to the kids. It's my strength, so any homeschool revision we do has to take that into account. For example, in past years when I've worried we weren't getting enough science in, we didn't add a bunch of labs that would be tended eagerly the first week and forgotten the next. We added a science book to our readaloud time.
If you love something, that's probably a good sign that you should be incorporating it into your homeschooling as much as possible. And the things you don't love, but you know you need to be doing anyway: we're still working on that.
Two Poem Drafts
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