Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Keeping Homeschooling Simple

Now that I am officially Catholic (huzzah!), I am committed to being a Catholic homeschooler. I am currently reading about this subject and the principles of a classical education. I still want to keep the Charlotte Mason method as our base, but since Charlotte was a classical educator herself, I want to understand how I can incorporate the ideas into what we are currently doing. To that end, I am reading, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum: A Guide to Catholic Home Education by Laura M. Berquist. I want to use as many Catholic resources as possible next year. My concern is that I don't want to feel too much pressure to follow someone else's guidelines. I don't want to be overwhelmed with formality. It seems that when I am very focused on formal schooling, I feel impatient, frustrated, and tense.

When I went through our current studies in my mind, it did strike me as a bit much. In addition to reading, writing, and math, Beezy has piano lessons, and the homework and practice are time consuming. We are reading the Little House series for history/literature and just finished a novel of Kateri Tekakwitha's life (saints/history/literature/Native American studies). We still have to finish Tree Castle Island (the last in our wetlands ecosystem studies). There is also the Bible, the Rosary, the Catholic book of signs and symbols for children, and now the addition of a 4-H project! Add to that the daily calendar and seasonal/holiday celebrations, going to Mass, and religious education classes. We always participate in anything going on at the library and through Parks and Recreation. And we can't leave out chores and housework, play dates, arts and crafts, and bedtime stories. I could keep going, but I'll stop now, as I'm sure you get the point. Life is full, even when it seems like there isn't that much going on!

Since seven is one of those good, biblical numbers, I have decided to keep the formal homeschooling subjects down to this many. Reading, writing, and math will be done daily, Monday through Friday. Piano about 3 days a week, in addition to the lessons. The Bible/Rosary twice a week. Narration of something on most days, such as a saint novel, science/nature study, or Little House book. And the pet project for 4-H (oh, and Beezy is now the newspaper reporter for her club, so that goes under the 4-H category as well). These are the 7 regular homeschooling "subjects" that will constitute our main focus for the remainder of the school year. The rest of the learning opportunities can fall under the unschooling banner, pursued according to time available and Beezy's interests.

It's so easy for me to get excited about something new, and ambitiously throw myself into a renewed program for life, and then to forget to just live, to just be, along the way. Figure out what is most important to you, and keep it simple, adding additional things gradually, allowing homeschooling to be a "little way", so that it can ultimately become a grand adventure.

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