Last Tuesday was curriculum share night at our homeschool parent support group. It’s basically adult show-and-tell, and it’s the best thing ever. I learn more from these nights—from thirty women taking two minutes each to talk about their favourite teaching tools—than from any conference or workshop or talk that I have ever attended.
I always walk away inspired.
Not to buy more stuff. I have plenty. But to use what I have in different ways.
(Okay, sometimes to buy more stuff. Sigh. But only because I’m convinced that it’s going to change our lives. To my husband, if you’re reading this, I promise you that anything that shows up on the doorstep this week will change our lives.)
If I’m totally honest, my confidence was a little shaky going into this year. It’s not that we’re doing anything radical or different; it’s just that I ended the year with homeschool burnout and needed the summer to recover my passion. The good news is that, although I’ve always been able to own up to my homeschool mistakes, I’m also developing confidence in what I do well.
My husband has confidence in me also, bless his heart.
Even if our educational choices look a little unique sometimes.
Which is the whole point of home education anyway, right? To allow children to learn at their own pace and to do things differently?
Speaking of doing things differently, let’s go back to curriculum share night. I was inspired. You see, although I’ve been doing a lot of together teaching lately (i.e., group lessons), I was inspired to add in a little more to our Morning Time routine.
Like what, you ask?
This year, both of my daughters (grade 2 and grade 3) are using Teaching Textbooks. (Side note: You can find a fantastic review of the program over at The Mommy Mess.) The girls are both working on Level 3 and are on track to finish by May. But one thing my husband and I have been discussing lately is mastery.
Interestingly, that concept came up at our meeting on Tuesday as well.
One of the Charlotte Mason mommas shared a reprint of an old math book that she is using quite successfully with her children. And although I’ve already been using flash cards this year, I decided to pull out that same book, along with my Ray’s Arithmetic books, and spend some time using them for our daily oral drills as well.
Yes, I’m adding in math curriculum from the 1870s.
And yes, it’s amazing.
If you want to learn more about the importance of mastery, by the way, that same homeschool mom shared the following video to our parent support Facebook group. It is absolutely worth a watch.
If you don’t have time to view the whole video, let me just sum it up by saying that, just as a builder wouldn’t move onto building the next stage of a house when the previous stage is only 70% complete, we shouldn’t be moving to the next stage in math without fully mastering the previous stage.
You shouldn’t build on gaps. Not if you want to build something solid.
Even if 70% is a pass in most educational settings.
English and Grammar
Although my girls are at different grade levels and using different programs for English, they are covering many of the same concepts. One sweet mom at our meeting on Tuesday brought in Daily Grams and described how she does oral grammar lessons with her children each morning.
We tried it this week.
It was brilliant.
They’re still going to continue with their current language arts programs, but even the few days this week that we’ve added in extra group grammar lessons have made a huge difference. Although I made up the lessons this week, I have ordered Daily Grams and we’ll be able to start with it soon.
Short, easy lessons. It’s beautiful.
One of my dear friends brought in the Simply Charlotte Mason picture study folios on Tuesday, reminding me that I’ve neglected art appreciation this year. A further online discussion strengthened my resolve: I need to add it back into our day.
Last year, I invested in the Great Canadian ArtPak from Maple Tree Publications. It’s a wonderful introduction to Canadian artists, and it goes beautifully with this year’s history and geography studies. I think it’s time to pull it out again.
One other thing that stuck out on Tuesday? Prayer. Although we pray with each other each morning, one sweet friend shared how she has her children pray for each other each day. I love that idea. I want more of that.
This week, our Morning Time has stretched out longer than ever. Yet, it has felt shorter than ever. I’m sure we’ll tweak again as time goes on, but I’m really pleased with the changes we’ve implemented over the last few days. We’re slowly building things into our schedule—next on the list is French class—and we’re settling into a beautiful routine.
This year has been filled with all the truth, beauty and goodness that I long for in a homeschool day. I’m so thankful for the women in my life who encourage me and teach me, even as I encourage and teach my children.
Also, homeschool mom show-and-tell rocks.
More Charlotte Mason inspired ideas:
- The Importance of Nature Study
- How to Incorporate Nature Study into your Homeschool Day
- 50 Amazing Nature Study Resources
- Modern History: A Living Book List
- Resources for Rich and Beautiful Morning Times