This article is a collection of the other four articles under Our Homeschooling Journey, for anyone who has the stamina or desire to see it all at once in its entirety.
I had the privilege of attending an excellent Christian school for K-12 and loved it. I hoped that someday I could send my children to a similar Christian school. Didn’t really care for the idea of homeschooling. It seemed like lots of work, I didn’t understand it much, and homeschooled kids I met came across abnormal or immature or so talented musically that they seemed to come from Mars or just socially be on a different planet… 😉
When I became a missionary, I knew homeschooling came with the job, but didn’t think about it until Caleb started growing up. I’d heard of a couple of companies–ABeka, BJU, and a couple of other names. Of the few I knew, my presupposition was that ABeka was the best and the cheapest. But with something so important and costly (in time and money), I wanted to make sure that my presupposition was correct before I committed myself to that company for 20 years. 🙂 That’s just the way I work. I want to research ALL the options to get the best, the cheapest, the one that would fit my children and me the best.
I sent out questionnaires to several homeschooling ladies I knew to find out what they used, why, how they liked it, etc. I started cataloging their responses and learning about new options I hadn’t heard of before. I started hearing about classical education. What I heard sounded great, but I didn’t really understand it. I wanted to research that more as well.
Around the same time, two books were sent to me about classical education, Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. I am so grateful to the Lord for those books! They changed our philosophy of education, and thus have changed my life and will change my children’s as well. I read them–portions of some of them repeatedly. By the time I “finished” my research (which still continues) and made my choices, it had taken many hours through about three months of my time. I began my research somewhere around the beginning of 2012, and even now enjoy reading and learning, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever really quit “researching.”
This shows that God has done a work in my heart. Coming from being cold and unexcited about homeschooling, now I am thrilled about the decisions Seth and I made together for our kids. I now feel that my kids have a chance at a better and more enjoyable education than I received (I never imagined that I would think that!) And I’m passionate about telling homeschooling friends (who ask! :)) about my research and what’s out there, in the hopes of saving someone else some time (and because I love it). What a change!
At this point in my journey, I am in danger of becoming a “curriculum junkie.” There are so many good choices! How’s a girl to commit to just one?
I did not realize until I began this journey how many different philosophies of education there are, as well as the many differing approaches to applying those specific philosophies. So before naively attending a large homeschool convention with your attractive credit card, it might be best to arm yourself with a basic knowledge of the major philosophies of education, and beyond that, to decide what your personal “pick” is of the different philosophies of education.
Here are some of the major philosophies that I came across.
If you grew up learning in a classroom in a graded school, you are familiar with this approach, otherwise called the “Scope and Sequence Method.” You will use textbooks and consumable workbooks for instruction in each subject area, books which are written for graded schools to use, although certain companies also cater to homeschoolers. Using these, your homeschool will work and look generally like a regular school. Companies take a general encyclopedia of information that every child must learn and break it down into efficient increments of 12 grade levels and 180 or so lessons each year. There are usually teacher’s manuals and answer keys, with some instruction only appearing in the teacher’s manuals, whereas the student book will have practice exercises for the information taught.
This educational method is comforting, first of all, because most of us grew up learning under this method, and so we are familiar with it. Secondly, the traditional method is comforting because you know as a parent that if you just buy the complete grade level package for your child that everything that needs to be taught will be covered; and in some cases, they will give you an exact script for how to teach it—what to say, what and how much to review every day, even sometimes what schedule to follow. It can be easier for a child to learn independently with traditional curricula, however traditional choices also can take more time for the parent to present because of the presentations and reviews they use to teach an entire classroom. Many homeschoolers start with this method but then experiment with other approaches as they gain experience.
A critique of this method is that they “recreate school at home,” “squeezing every child into the same mold,” meaning they don’t take advantage of the opportunities presented in one-on-one tutoring; instead they try to make their homeschool look like a real school.
Examples: A Beka Book, BJU Press, Modern Curriculum Press, Alpha Omega Publications, Rod and Staff, Christian Liberty, Seaton, Calvert.
2. Charlotte Mason
An educator around the turn of the century, Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is difficult to describe or understand at first, except for what seems to be some random phrases. The more you read about her refreshing philosophy though, the more it makes sense. She advocated…
a. Disciplining children in habits of good character, like concentration, truthfulness, self-control, attentiveness, and unselfishness.
b. No “twaddle,” or wasting a child’s time and energy on traditional textbooks that are boringly written in a dry, “reading-made-easy little history book.” She wanted children to develop a love for learning, and one way to stimulate that and help them retain knowledge was through “living books,” or books that were written about a specific subject by an author passionate about presenting the material in such a way as to present a vivid picture of the information in the child’s mind.
c. Nature walks and journaling and outdoor learning. These were very important as a basis for natural scientific understanding, and a child should have many hours daily for “exercise and investigation.”
d. Instead of tests and workbooks, children should orally narrate the material learned back to the teacher, in order to assess their understanding.
e. Developing the imagination and connecting topics studied to retain knowledge. She used a lot of hands-on learning in the younger grades.
f. A study of the fine arts.
I am still reading to understand her philosophy. I hope to write more about Charlotte Mason resources in the future to cement my own understanding of this philosophy of education. For now though, I can direct you to Simply Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online for more information.
This one will take a separate article of itself! (See below.) Very succinctly, this is a resurgence of a model of learning that was used in the Middle Ages and even in the Greek and Roman civilizations. Here are key terms in classical education: Trivium (subjects and stages of learning—grammar, dialectic or logic, and rhetoric), Great Books, logic, Socratic discussions, and ancient languages—Greek and Latin.
This sounds like what it is. A not-so-bad-sounding version is the “relaxed” home school, which allows the children a lot of say in curriculum choices, topics to study, and schedule. Parents provide an example of interest in learning, include their children in their own experiences, provide them with lots of handy educational resources and take them on field trips, and are available to help answer questions and help the children learn about their interests.
Harvey Bluedorn, author of Teaching the Trivium, critiques this philosophy, “The primary tenet of the advocates of unschooling is that the child be left to determine his own direction. The whole tenor of the Scriptures disagrees with such a notion.”
5. Unit Studies
This also was hard for me to get my head around exactly what it is, but basically one studies all subjects through a unifying theme. It is fairly easy to find curricula that organize most subjects around history. Other examples are KONOS curriculum, which organizes learning around character traits. The Bible lesson will be a Bible story that teaches about a specific character trait, science will be somehow related, plus music, crafts, music history, creative writing, and rarely math. Five in a Row is a sweet preschool to elementary program that creates unit studies around children’s literature. For example, you will read Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel to your child for five days in a row, each day using the story as a jumping board from which to study a different subject—art, science, social studies, math, and language arts.
Many homeschoolers are a mix of one to four of the above. That’s where I am. Charlotte Mason and classical education philosophies have won me in a lot of areas, but I also use some traditional curricula. I like unit studies centered around history and also am attracted to Five in a Row or unit studies around letters for preschool and kindergarten.
Other philosophies are “independent” study, the principle approach, Waldorf, Montessori, and the formal vs. non-formal early academics. There are probably more I don’t know of!
Homeschoolers used to be unified simply by the fact that they were homeschooling. They were marching to the beat of a different drummer, with the help of a few traditional curriculum companies who would sell to them, and were lone rangers in a world of go-to-schoolers. But the landscape has changed incredibly. There are so many companies out there now trying to get in on the booming homeschool market. It’s overwhelming.
I’d like to help separate the “over” from the “whelm” for some homeschooling newbies, if I could offer some humble suggestions based on my own journey. I highly recommend Cathy Duffy’s book 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. (Here’s an e-version 50% off at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op–free to join. Check under “Resources.”) She walks you through the differing philosophies in a short, digestible manner (much better than I!) with a chart to help you place yourself with the philosophy that best fits you. She discusses learning styles of children. Then she makes her top recommendations of homeschooling curriculum for all the different subjects—101 of them. You can read numerous reviews on her website as well to get a feel for what a certain curriculum is like, outside of just her top 101 favorites.
If you’re still hungry, please find a copy of The Well-Trained Mind. You could start there rather than Cathy Duffy if you think you might lean towards classical education. Research the recommendations the author lists for each subject to see which curricula you like.
After my own research, I made charts to compare and contrast what I perceived to be the strengths and weaknesses of my top choices for each subject. I prayed about them and talked to Seth about them. And then we chose!
Happy hunting, homeschoolers!
As I conducted my research into the world of homeschool curricula, this question more and more frequently popped up in my mind. When I asked the few people I knew who were classically homeschooling their children the above question, I felt a fog creep over my mind as I heard their answer. I heard words but didn’t understand the concept. If you’ve ever learned another language, you may have experienced this: you can pick out a lot of the individual words another person is saying but still not understand the overall idea he just communicated.
Now that much of my personal philosophy of education leans classical, I’ll give a shot at explaining classical education. But first—I have so far recommended three books for your homeschooling journey: Cathy Duffy’s book 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum, Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. These books will explain this much better than I can, especially the latter two, as they are specifically about classical education.
But second first :), two disclaimers regarding the latter two books, which I highly recommend:
- Don’t think you have to read the whole tome to get the big picture. The books are intimidating (700 pages average), and I procrastinated before actually reading them. I haven’t finished every page. I just read the chapters most pertinent to me—some of them repeatedly.
- Both authors, Bluedorn and Bauer, have succinct explanations or articles defining classical education on their websites and/or blogs. So you could try there first.
But I will try to put one more explanation of classical education out there. Big breath. Here we go.
(In this section I’ll say “Bluedorn” when referring to the book Teaching the Trivium, and “SWB” for Susan Wise Bauer, the main author [along with her mother who homeschooled her] of the book The Well-Trained Mind.)
Classical education is a resurgence of a model and method of education that was used in ancient and medieval schools, which structured their curriculum around three subjects (as Bluedorn calls it, the Trivium). The first subject is called Grammar—meaning back then, the student was taught the vocabulary and grammar of a language, usually a classical one, Latin or Greek. Then he was taught Logic, giving him ability in critical thinking. The third subject was rhetoric, or using the knowledge he learned and learning how to creatively and persuasively present it to others.
Dorothy Sayers caused a resurgence of recognition of these elements when she wrote an essay called “The Lost Tools of Learning.” An easier and better read would be Douglas Wilson’s book Rediscovering the Lost Tools of Learning. Sayers used those three classical subjects to define the stages of educational development that a child goes through.
Sayers saw that the child goes through a Grammar stage when he’s gathering up facts “like a sponge.” It’s easy for the young child to memorize facts. In fact, he loves it and parrots everything you say. So some call this the poll-parrot stage.
Then he goes through a Logic stage, where he’s more curious and analytical—you’ll hear a lot of “why’s” in this stage. Finally he hits the Rhetoric stage, when he learns to express the facts he’s learned in a logical and persuasive manner. Some Christians see these stages in the terms Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom in Proverbs.
About here in the conversation is where I used to go fuzzy. I heard the terms, but how did that practically apply to educating my child? Was there some curriculum that structured subjects and learning around these stages? SWB’s practical suggestions for how to classically educate your child in each subject at each grade level helped clear the fog for me but also raised another question.
I got confused because when I read The Well-Trained Mind, SWB recommends curricula that are not specifically classical, meaning that those curricula, for the subjects she recommends them for, did fine for that subject using the classical method in that subject. For example, one of her recommendations for elementary math is ABeka, a traditional scope and sequence curriculum. I originally thought that to be a classical educator, you couldn’t use traditional scope and sequence textbooks. But Bluedorn has a helpful chapter (ch. 10) called “Different Methods and Approaches to Homeschooling in the Light of the Trivium,” and this chapter helped clear things up for me quite a bit.
Bluedorn made a distinction between the “method” and the “model” of classical education. The Trivium “method” is to apply this understanding of the child’s stages of learning to each subject. Every subject has its own grammar—the knowledge level—basic facts, rules (like the multiplication tables in math); then logic—or understanding the relationships between facts and rules—how all the parts fit together (story problems in math or theorems in geometry); and rhetoric, or wisdom, in verbally expressing and practically applying what we know and understand (applying math to accounting or engineering, for example). In each subject the student will progress through those stages to be a master.
Some solid Christian curricula teach individual subjects in this “method,” starting with facts, moving towards logic and critical thinking, and then applying it. But not many use this philosophy as the actual “model” of education. The “model” of classical education will think of the children in stages; generally grades 1-4 is the grammar stage. Young children are great at memorizing: fill them with facts. Those facts are like pegs on the wall, that later you’ll come back and hang clothes on. Then grades 5-8 generally is the logic stage, and 9-12 the rhetoric. You decide when they have moved to that logic stage, whether it’s at age 9, 10, or 11, and that’s when you start adjusting their education for the next stage.
Understanding the practical applications of the philosophy of classical education is difficult, because there seem to be different approaches to classical education from within its own camp, and even mild disagreements about the importance of different elements. But here are the most distinctive elements that usually comprise classical education:
- Great Books
Classical education proponents want children to be engaged in “the Great Conversation,” as Mortimer Adler called it in his book How to Read a Book (a classic in itself!) All through history, great minds have continued the Great Conversation as recorded in the Great Books. This is so important that SWB and others propose teaching classic literature at each learning stage.
For example, some classical educators will have the grammar stage read a picture book version of The Epic of Gilgamesh, then read a children’s chapter book version of it in the logic stage, then read the actual thing and write an essay on it in the rhetoric stage. Why three times? SWB’s thought is that if a young child is introduced to great literature in a non-threatening way, it won’t be intimidating to him when he’s older, because he “already knows this story!”
- Classical languages (Latin and Greek)
Historically, another foundational aspect of “true” classical education was learning Latin and/or Greek. Many classical educators today feel that you really can’t cut out the classical languages and say that you are educating your children classically. “But recently,” says Cathy Duffy, “emphasis on the structure of the trivium and reading the Great Books seems to have displaced the study of Greek.” Bluedorn recommends for Christians that if you only learn one classical language, learn Greek, because that’s the language of the New Testament and therefore most important.
- Emphasis on memorization (in elementary)
There is debate amongst classical education proponents on how to apply this concept—how much memorization, which facts, and when?
- Logic (and Socratic discussions)
Classical educators recommend the formal study of logic for 2-4 years. A popular logic textbook is Nathaniel Bluedorn’s book Fallacy Detective and its sequel The Thinking Toolbox. Other more formal textbooks have been published by Memoria Press, a classical curriculum publisher. During the logic and rhetoric stage, Socratic discussions (asking leading, thoughtful questions to help a child learn from the knowledge he’s gleaned from his reading) are encouraged, and in some curricula, scheduled or even scripted for the teacher.
And here are some practical aspects of classical education that you will see in many classical curricula, but not all:
- Using phonics to teach reading.
- Teaching world history chronologically, rather than mainly American history, using timelines and mapwork.
- Using dictation, copywork, and narration as teaching and evaluation devices.
- A grammar program that emphasizes rules and memorization from a young age.
- Art and music appreciation (learning the masters and great works of both subjects).
Cathy Duffy summarized some of my thoughts regarding classical education:
“Personally, I think the greatest value of classical education is that it engages learners with the most important ideas—ideas about God, about life, about purpose. Classical education challenges the vocational orientation of most modern education by instead concentrating on learning which forms the inner person. At the same time, classical students learn how to think, how to learn independently, and how to present their own ideas—all of which ultimately prepares them for a wide range of vocations.”
If you are interested in classical education, I would recommend you at least read The Well-Trained Mind. Then you will have to decide which elements of her approach to classical education, if any, you agree with and place importance on. The Well-Trained Mind is to me a layman’s guide to implementing classical education. SWB’s writing style is interesting, practical, and succinct (though you might not think so when you see the size of the book!) You might not do everything exactly according to her plan but regardless will find many helpful tips and suggestions.
Teaching the Trivium is written by pioneers in the field of classical Christian education. The Bluedorns will give you a Christian perspective on how to implement classical education.
And finally, a book I would like to read, Classical Education: The Movement Sweeping America by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. and Andrew Kern. Supposedly this book explains the different approaches to classical education objectively, so that you can decipher which model of classical education you most agree with.
So how did I do? Are you foggy still? Asleep long ago? If I only raised more questions for you, let me know. If I am able, I will do my best to thoughtfully answer! It’ll be good for me to work through the issues and organize my thoughts personally.
Early on in my homeschooling journey, I sent out e-mails to homeschooling moms I knew asking for advice. One lady advised me to develop my personal philosophy of education and sent me her own as an example. At first I didn’t completely understand. After all, you just buy the curriculum from the publisher you want, right? What does it mean to develop your personal philosophy of education?
After understanding the differences or similarities between some of the most prevalent educational philosophies today, I have made decisions regarding them, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, and have crafted my own personal philosophy of education. It is personal and specific to our family, but I offer it as an example. If you would like to write your own philosophy of education, feel free to take my outline and keep what you like, and alter what you don’t. Happy homeschooling!
MY PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
Presuppositions: What I assume will be true about education whether I consciously think of it or not.
1. Every fact points to Christ.
2. Education should be comprehensive. (liberal arts)
3. Education requires self-discipline.
4. The most valuable subjects are language arts, logic, and math.
Denials: A few items that I reject.
1. The unformed feelings of children matter.
I’m not talking about feelings like the bare sense perception of sitting on a tack. Yes, if Caleb is sitting on a sharp object, his loving parents should take his feelings into consideration regardless of how they are formed. Rather, feelings here refer to affections, loves, emotional conditions of the heart. A modern educator may ask a child how he feels about such and such activity. Frankly, his feelings don’t matter if they are unformed by a superior transcendent value.
2. Money is the difference between a good and bad education.
3. Families should closely follow the government’s core standards.
4. Facts can be neutral.
5. Evolution is science.
What I want as a teacher:
1. Throughout all subjects, God should receive the glory for success; and every failure should remind us of our need for a Savior.
2. I want to follow the model of the Trivium, assessing my children’s stages of development (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). I want to emphasize children developing a “life of the mind” over vocational skills.
3. I want to teach all my kids together for history, science, fine arts appreciation, and Bible, connecting the subjects as much as I can, each child learning and doing projects and reading on his own level. This aids family discussions on the things we’re all learning together and saves my sanity trying to juggle over 100 teacher’s manuals a week (say 5 kids, 5 subjects a day, 5 days a week!)
4. I want resources that hold my hand, even scripted, telling me how to teach and what to say. This may change as I get more experience; but for now, I don’t want to put things together myself.
What I want for my children: (bullet points underneath each subject show practical points of importance to me)
1. Bible—I want to value it, adhere to it, and know it. It is memorized above and before anything else, so they can draw on those truths to give an answer to the important questions of life. Children should see that the Bible is the foundation for all other facts. The Bible is the most classic and enduring “Great Book” in the world. Children should “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39) and find them “sweeter than honey.” (Psalm 19:10) I want my children to have a personal relationship with their Maker and His Son and to love Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
- Curriculum that is friendly to Reformed Baptist doctrine.
- Preferably integrated with our history and science studies, if possible.
- Emphasize memory work, including catechisms.
- I also want to study church history and read some works of great theologians in order to recognize ancient heresies when they crop up under a “new” name.
- Apologetics and evangelism; an emphasis on missions and defense of the faith.
- An emphasis on character training, on heart more than or as well as head; internalizing knowledge.
2. Language arts
A. Reading—Christians are people of a Book. I want my children to love to read, as that will be the source of their self-education for years to come. I want them to discern what is good, beautiful, and true. I want them to engage in the “Great Conversation,” the Great Books and ideas that shaped Western Civilization and made it great. God’s fingerprints are seen throughout a lot of those ideas, but we want them to be able to decipher where they diverge from godly thinking and not be puffed up with knowledge that does not edify.
- Curriculum must be a strictly phonics-based approach to teaching reading.
- Using actual books, not readers with snippets of material from different sources.
- Spending more time actually reading than “busy work” of filling out workbooks for reading comprehension. Literature sheets can be nice, but are not necessary until around 7th grade.
- Integrating Socratic discussions (preferably with scripts or lots of help for the teacher) and writing on the rhetoric levels.
- Reading what is good, true, and beautiful, that in some way, even if unwittingly, reflects a Christian worldview; not crass pop culture like Walter the Farting Dog, Captain Underpants, or Goosebumps.
B. Writing—I want my children to learn to honor God in how they express themselves and to use the “sword” of the pen to build a stronger culture and to be the salt of the earth. Children should discipline themselves to write with neat and legible penmanship, and even prettily, if possible. Children should learn to write engagingly and logically.
- The right balance between enough handwriting practice in the younger years to develop a good hand in penmanship but not excessive amounts of writing for little fingers.
- Learning cursive. The public schools are cutting this out, but we will learn it.
- A writing program that does not expect all young children who are just learning the mechanics of holding a pencil to think and write creatively. Creative writing can be introduced later on.
- Integrating writing with the philosophies encountered in history, literature, Bible, and science.
- Using methods of narration, dictation, and copywork to develop writing skills.
C. Grammar—I want my children to understand the logic of English so that they write correctly and interestingly. Children should learn to persevere to understand the rules of language so that they may experience freedom in their writing.
- That children learn grammar in elementary, beginning with the basics even in first grade, but receiving an introduction to grammar no later than third grade.
- I would prefer them to learn basic diagramming in elementary, not wait until junior high.
D. Spelling—I want my children to understand the logic of English so that they write correctly and do not distract the reader with questions of their intelligence. 🙂 Children should not depend on spellcheck.
- A rule-based program that explains when to use which phonograms, thus enforcing phonics instruction. Children should read with an eye to correct spellings and exceptions to the rules of spelling. This can be integrated in all of language arts but shouldn’t hinder the child’s writing attempts.
- I prefer resources that are more independent, but don’t mind more teacher-directed resources if they most clearly explain the rules to the child.
- I don’t mind the idea of using studied dictation, but prefer other philosophies over Charlotte Mason’s for learning spelling.
E. Vocabulary—I want my children to increase their understanding of the English language, but not be so lofty and high-brow as to be unable to communicate to the common man. Speech should be pure, compassionate, and logical. Children should learn to enjoy words.
- Teaching Greek and Latin roots, prefixes, and suffixes for an understanding of how our words were formed and to increase understanding of unusual words.
3. Math—I want mathematics to illustrate the order and logic of God’s world, the unchangeable certainty of facts, and the importance of memorizing foundational information. Children should learn to persevere even if it doesn’t come easily.
- Drilling basic operations
- Conceptual understanding of those drilled facts: Charlotte Mason philosophy likes manipulatives and “real life” math, or learning through real life situations. Susan Wise Bauer also suggests one day a week for applying math in real life situations. I don’t want isolated drilled facts without conceptual understanding of them; therefore, Cuisenaire rods or Math-U-See manipulatives are important.
- Ability to re-explain the concepts
- Retention of facts learned
- An ability to complete basic problems mentally
- I don’t care about keeping up with common core standards, like graphing every year
4. History—I want to emphasize God’s sovereign hand throughout history, that it is He who “removeth kings and setteth up kings.” Daniel 2:21 Children should see His bedrock unchangeableness and faithfulness and develop a Biblical worldview through which they will view all events and philosophies.
- Learning world history chronologically, rather than just American history. I want to stress to the children early on about the big world we live in so they’re not self-centered or myopic Americans. (Charlotte Mason wrote about this as well as classical educators.)
- Using timelines (a Book of Centuries) to help the children gain a sense of their place in God’s plan and to make connections between what was happening in different places of the world that influenced cultures and events.
- Mapwork—again, to cement a sense of the bigness of the world. Americans should know more than just North America on the map. 🙂
- A mix of 2-3 “spines” or textbooks and other supplementary “living” books on the subject would be great. We want short, meaningful lessons from “living books,” not twaddle—dry, company-written textbooks, which can be the most boring books written. But I also do want a spine or two, written in living-book style, to be central to our studies throughout the year—to help keep us on track and lessen the potential for “gaps” in our education.
- Using narrations to test listening skills for elementary. Evaluations would be nice for 7th grade and higher.
- Integrating Socratic discussions (preferably with scripts or lots of help for the teacher) and writing on the rhetoric levels.
- I prefer strictly chronological history, but wouldn’t mind using a curriculum that arranged it more sequentially within geographic regions, still following the overall chronological cycle.
- I prefer a 4-year cycle repeated three times, as suggested in The Well-Trained Mind, in order to give the logic and rhetoric stages a full 4 years to interact with the material. But I’m not opposed to a 6-year cycle in elementary, and two 3-year cycles for 7-12 grades.
- I would like hands-on ideas; but this would not be a deal-breaker if it weren’t there.
5. Science—I want us to glorify God for His orderly, beautiful handiwork, generally revealed to man through His creation, described clearly in Genesis 1. I want to foster in my children a spirit of inquiry, awe, gratitude, and humility; and responsibility to fulfill God’s command to subdue the earth.
- Unapologetically young-earth. Apologetically so. 🙂 The curriculum must give answers and apologetics for how to defend God’s Word. Evolution must in no sense be kowtowed to as “science” in any form. The Bible must be the foundation and all other “science” seen as false if it disagrees with a statement of Scripture.
- Regularly going on nature walks to purposely study God’s world and be amateur naturalists, recording and identifying what we see in nature journals.
- I want a curriculum organized for me, not doing my own general schedule as outlined in The Well-Trained Mind. I need more structure than that.
- I would prefer to not jump around between topics every 6 weeks all throughout elementary, as in school textbooks; but would prefer to focus on a topic for 3-4 months, or half of the school year, as in My Father’s World.
6. Foreign Languages—We have been blessed to know English as our mother tongue, the most widely used modern language. However, other languages help to increase logic, to understand other cultures, and learning Biblical languages can help children to more quickly recognize error and to be more useful for God’s worldwide kingdom. Children should try hard to communicate with others in their mother tongue for the purpose of evangelism.
- Early fluency in Tsonga.
- Learning the basics of and attempting Venda and Afrikaans in junior high and high school.
- One or two years of Greek study, possibly in junior high or high school.
- Outside of Tsonga, that no languages would take over the more important studies of the 3 R’s and logic.
- Formal Latin study outside of study for vocabulary purposes is not important to us (at least at this point :)). We have too many other languages to study.
7. Fine arts—Art and music are an important part of a well-rounded individual and of worshipping God. They open children’s minds to transcendent values, which are the foundation for an enduring culture. Children should learn to appreciate art and music and to develop their own abilities in these areas as much as possible.
- Learning to appreciate and enjoy conservative, classic, enduring, God-honoring, awe-inspiring art and music.
- The ability to identify major contributors and their contributions to art and music.
- Piano instruction beginning in second grade and stopping when we deem that lack of ability hinders, rather than laziness.
- The ability to read music and sing harmony as well as on pitch, not abusing their own vocal chords or others’ ears. 🙂
- Basic instruction in different elements of art.
- Learning other instruments is not as important. I don’t know how to instruct in these, and that will be difficult over here. If the children express an interest, it is important to me to do my best to help them learn; but I won’t initiate too much if they aren’t interested.
- I feel it unimportant that children learn to appreciate or “tolerate” modern art and music, which contribute to the death of a culture.
8. Practical Living—Children must learn how to care for themselves, the home, and learn to serve in ministry. They must not be self-centered, but learn to serve other family members and submit to authority. They learn to fulfill their roles.
- Learning how to do household chores and to prize personal neatness.
- Learning to be a good steward of personal health (food choices and exercise).
- Practice some handicrafts. (For guys, also know how to fix fundamental car problems and run basic tools.)
- Knowing how to work hard as unto the Lord.
- Doing some sort of regular exercise in high school.
- Learning to type and handle a computer.
- Able to listen and speak well with proper manners in social settings. Enjoys family and others.
- Able to handle finances well.
- Have a teachable spirit that enjoys learning and can self-educate.
- Able to organize, plan, and manage.