A Heart is a House for Love

Why I choose to homeschool….

The typical reasons that families choose to homeschool are many.  Although some of those reasons played a factor in my final decision, they weren’t the end all be all. Many people choose to homeschool due to various reasons: a desire to instill their family morals, values, and religion/world view in their children, concerns about preconceived prejudices and culture clashes in the world and, therefore, classroom, or bad experiences or episodes with “mean girls” and bullies.  The list goes on.  I chose to homeschool simply because I knew HOW I wanted my children educated. Little did I know before they got here how much more important that concept would become. My mother was an educator before she retired when I was born. She taught at all levels from the primary grades up through college and professional training. When I declared that I wanted to homeschool my children, she (along with my brother) was my biggest cheerleader! And I quote “That’s wonderful! All children are DIFFERENT. They are not cookie cutters!”

Why I choose to homeschool....SOLD! There you have it folks! The one certified educator in the family (who was featured in the news back in the ’60’s by the way for her groundbreaking ability to teach kids -especially boys) was singing my praises! That settles it!!

I never even considered homeschooling until I was asked to sit on an exploratory board regarding education at my Church home back in Los Angeles. At the time I was pregnant with our first child and hadn’t even thought that far in advance yet. I was just focused on getting her here healthy and couldn’t even see past that point. The plan was to incorporate educational services and perhaps be a homeschool facilitator as a Church family. I had no idea what to expect but when asked to serve, I answered. I learned SO MUCH! The most impressive thing that I learned was about the Classical Method of Education which is how the ancients taught. Quite frankly it’s the style used up through recent times when the whole concept of public schools was introduced just over 100 years ago in the late 1800’s. Yes people, homeschooling is NOT NEW. Sending your kids off to school is – but that’s a history lesson for another day.

Anywho, I fell in love with the Classical Method. With my medical education and understanding and training in child development, the Classical Method ‘made nothing but sense’ as my brother always says. It basically takes the understanding of how the brain naturally develops and uses that to infuse information into the brain in a manner consistent with the brain’s natural strengths during that particular phase of development. Let me explain…

Typically the Classical Method involves three or four phases or stages. The Trivium (tri means three like in the word triangle, a geometric shape with three angles or sides) is what is most commonly used describes the three stages of the Classical Method. There’s also the Quadrivium (quad means four) that extends through the college years if you so choose.

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The three stages of the Trivium are Parrot (Poll), Rhetoric, and Logic. Let’s dive in!

The Parrot/Poll Stage refers to younger children who repeat (parrot) everything that you say so you put that to your advantage.  Instead of learning all of the words to the latest Top Ten Hit, my kids learned the entire historical time line (over 150 facts) from Creation to September 11th (along with all the States and their Capitals, the times tables or what we call skip counting, science facts, all 44 Presidents, The Preamble to the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) at the age of 4 because I taught them a song by teaching 7 points a week to music with movements for only 15 minutes day! You heard me correctly – just 15 minutes a day!! Don’t get me wrong my kids do listen to regular music (they prefer serious ol’ skool like The O’Jays and Earth Wind & Fire and some gospel but I digress) but why not throw a CD in the car on your way to the grocery store and input something useful as well?! Using music, movements, and pictures/videos allowed my kids to absorb the information  in a way that worked best for them.  All types of learners can pick up the needed info in some way as it utilizes all of your senses. My barely verbal at the time 2yo BeBe would “sing” along and try to do the movements, too. If he even heard the music from a distance, he would come running from wherever he was to join in the fun.

These facts are taught in cycles. So each school year is dedicated to a time period and you learn the History and Geography that coincides with that Historical Period as well as the Math and Science that was developed during that era.  So you can see that all the pieces string together in a story that makes sense and help to connect the dots. Last year we focused on Ancient Times so to tie it all together we chose an Ancient Egypt theme for my daughter’s birthday.

imageShe loved it! She watched several documentaries of her choosing in preparation for her party. (It was her idea – I promise!)

Now the next phase, Logic, takes all of the facts that were learned in the previous stage (which have been repeated at least twice at this point) and hangs more detail on the proverbial pegs that were put in place. As the brain matures you give more and more detail and dive deeper. So for instance you may go over a simplified version the story of The Odyssey or The Iliad a few times in primary school so that by the time you’re in middle school, it’s old hat and reading the original text is a no brainer because you already know the story like the back of your hand. Oh yeah! No textbooks here folks! We read and study the original works – not what someone else picks and chooses to be important enough to cherry pick and smash together with other random facts of their choosing. We go back to the original documents so we learn to think critically and draw our OWN conclusions and not what someone else wants us to think!

 

homeschoolThe third stage is Rhetoric. So teenagers like to argue all the time right?! Well this phase teaches them how to write out well thought out arguments utilizing all of the facts that they have acquired over the years.  There are even moot court and debate competitions to really seal the deal.

As I learned more I thought “If I had been taught like this, I’d be a genius!” The extra benefit of homeschooling is I get to re-learn all the stuff that I missed or didn’t retain the first time around (Baby Brain is real! I don’t care what the studies say). Win-win!

In a nutshell you learn how to learn! (and how to think critically) There are stories after story of middle school aged kids teaching themselves Latin, Greek, Hebrew and other subjects. This is why when people ask me if I plan to homeschool all the way through (with the air of exhaustion in their voice), I answer with a resounding “Yes!” By the time my kids are up and really rolling in middle school, I will be able to sit back and watch them shine.  I anticipate they will be teaching me a thing or three by then.  Homeschooling shouldn’t create more work down the line, it should create less.  Once you lay down a good foundation, the rest of the pieces should fall in to place over time.

Homeschooling with the Classical Method is clearly what’s best for me and mine. I get to give my children the individualized love and attention and teaching style that they need (with a few extra hugs throughout the day – my favorite part). However, do what is best for you and yours. There are plenty of brick-and-mortar schools and homeschool facilitators (also known as the hybrid method where your kids go in 1 – 3 times a week and you teach the lessons throughout the rest of the week at home) which offer the Classical Method style of teaching but that may not be what fits you and your family best. Many people love the Montessori method.  Just make sure you find a school that actually uses the true Montessori method and not just the title on their placard. Each kid is different. You may even need to educate one child one way and another child another. Different schools or school settings may be best depending on the kid.  I would say that this article was just penned to encourage you to think outside the box. However, in my house there is no box! That’s the beauty of it all.

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Happy Healthy Living!

Until next time….

Take Home Tidbits

  • The Classical Method uses the way that the brain naturally develops to facilitate learning
  • Utilizing the Classical Method mean that you learn how to learn and think critically
  • Homeschooling is NOT new

Helpful Resources

Homeschooling Stats

The Well Trained Mind

The Core

The Trivium

How Children Learn

Dumbing Us Down

Inside American Education

Weapons of Mass Instruction