A little more structure

I've wanted to write for some time now about a few changes we've made in our educational approach. Celine is in grade three this year. I'm not going to spend a lot of time explaining how we've done things up till now since I've blogged about that over the past couple years. Here are some of those posts:

Earlier this year I had a growing desire to compile a reading list for Celine. Watching her devour books I realized I wanted her reading quality books.

As these things often happen, what started as a simple goal took a complicating turn but resulted in greater clarity & purpose. The complicating turn was that when I started to get serious about a reading list in late August, as summer activities were winding down and most kids return to school, I stumbled across Charlotte's Mason's method of homeschooling/teaching.

In the past, I have chosen to not follow a curriculum or prescribed methods as I've felt most comfortable with a relaxed approach and letting the kids learn through play and real life encounters. Those ideas haven't changed but I was beginning to see that Celine needed a little more direction. Specifically in handwriting, composition & math.

Certainly opportunities exist everyday for these skills to be developed and a knowledge base acquired but quite honestly I wasn't diligent enough in capitalizing on all those opportunities. Not to mention some of the daily math we encountered, percentages for example, required a basic foundation that hadn't been laid yet.

So, after reading The Charlotte Mason Companion (Mason's work itself is old and I don't have the patience for late 19th century pedagogy when all I want is the how-to's) and checking out Simply Charlotte Mason, I decided to implement some of Mason's teaching methods in our home school.

This planning consumed the first part of September but the time was well spent as I have now have an idea where we are going for the rest of this school year. In other words, our own curriculum.

Much of our daily routine has stayed the same (chores, Bible, playtime, handicrafts) but some notable changes are more time spent reading together, daily practice in math and handwriting for Celine as well as weekly narrations and other composition practice. "Subjects" I'm more intentional about including in our weeks and months are classical music appreciation, art appreciation, poetry and hymn singing and memorization.

I've basically taken the Charlotte Mason approach and tweaked it for our family's goals. Or conversely, taken our approach to education and tweaked it according to Mason's philosophy, which fits very well with my own philosophy of education.

So, that's the condensed description of our new school year. It's been a bit of a change but I'm very happy with where we're going. I've been especially excited to see how Celine is growing in her confidence of narrating what she's read. But that's probably due more to her being developmentally ready to do so, than any changes I can take credit for.

Being home, learning with and teaching my children is such a wonderful vocation. Tiring, yes. Frustrating at times. But oh so satisfying.

I haven't mentioned much about Laurent, who is in grade 1 this year. We're not big into formal schooling (surprise, surprise) so my goals for his school year are very basic - learning to read. But now that Celine is doing a couple more structured activities each day he is wanting to participate as well, something I hadn't anticipated. He'll probably start with Getty Dubay handwriting series soon, as will Brienne who doesn't want to be left behind. He also loves to narrate what he's studying, usually bugs.

Brienne is basically learning whatever Celine and Laurent teach her, which is quite a bit. She also snuggles and reads with us each day so is learning, as much as she can comprehend, about the Medieval period, Ancient Rome, birds, ships, monarchs/caterpillars and whatever else we are reading and studying about.

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