I just finished reading, "For the Children's Sake, Foundations of Education for Home and School" by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay.
This book was a great encouragement to me! I've always been a "gentle" homeschooler. What I mean by that, is I believe children should have lots of time to explore nature, play, run...simply BE a child. The early years of elementary, should not be spent in a desk for many hours doing worksheet after worksheet.
I like how Macaualay puts it, "Education is an adventure...It's about people, children, life, reality!"
Much of what Macaualay writes about comes from Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education. You can read more about Mason by clicking here.
Mason also says, "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life." These are principle numbers 6-8.
"Education is an atmosphere." Education is an atmosphere" doesn't mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world."
"Education is a discipline" means that we train a child to have good habits and self-control.
"Education is life" means that education should apply to body, soul and spirit. The mind needs ideas of all kinds, so the child's curriculum should be varied and generous with many subjects included. (
I believe the mistake some people make is to think their children are only learning during structured lesson times. Children learn when you plant a garden together and watch it grow. Children learn when you go on a nature hike together. Children learn when you ask them to set the table, and prepare dinner together. Children learn when you read wonderful "living books" together (above their own reading level).
Let me share with you a bit of how our family spends a day. In the mornings, we have what we call morning work (eating breakfast, brushing teeth, making our beds, and getting dressed). Then, we have prayer, devotional, or scripture memory time. We spend time each day working on the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic). Then the afternoons are spent doing our read-alouds, playing, exploring nature, etc...After dinner, our family has family worship time. My husband plays his guitar and we sing worship songs together, read from a children's Bible, and then everyone draws a card from the prayer basket and we take turns praying for people listed on our cards.
I have learned to let my children take the lead a little when it comes to their education. What are they interested in? What would they like to learn more about? I learned this lesson in a bit of a painful way. Well, my feelings were hurt just a little. One day, I gathered all the supplies we needed to make a bird feeder together. It was going to be a bit messy, so we went outside to the porch. Our supplies included a toilet paper roll, peanut butter, and bird seed. All the children were going to take turns smearing on the peanut butter, and rolling it in the bird seed. Then, we were going to choose a tree branch to slide our bird feeder on. Once we got outside NO ONE was interested in making the bird feeder! Didn't they know that it took time and money to get this special project together? Didn't they know that I was doing this because I thought they'd enjoy it and it would be fun? Instead of wanting to make the bird feeder, all three children were crawling around on the grass catching crickets!!!! There were so many crickets in the yard, all they had to do was put their hand down on the grass, and scoop them up. They had dozens of crickets in a jar in no time!!!! Here I was standing on the porch pouting because nobody wanted to make a bird feeder with ME!!!!! Then, I felt the Lord soften my heart, and prompt me to go join my children, and enjoy the moment with them. The bird feeder could wait, but the crickets may not be in such excess the next time we come out to play!
So, this momma has learned to be a bit more flexible in her planning. Some days, you just need to go outside and enjoy the crickets, and save the bird feeder for another day! And as I learned from Macaulay's book, always remember to make education an adventure!