When our girls were little, I found it fairly easy to know what to do with them for our school time. Colors, letters, numbers, and crayons filled our days. We went to the library at least once a week to find copious amounts of picture books, both for science and for stories to read. I was a hands-on teacher, because they needed me to be. We started with activity books from Rod & Staff, and How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We purchased a three-hole punch and several empty binders. Every few weeks we would sort through their papers and choose their favorite/ best examples to keep.
The hardest times for me as a teacher of small children were when I would occasionally catch a cold and lose my voice. Enter the joy of DVDs. As the girls grew up we watched dozens and dozens of DVDs on nature, history, art, and national parks. We also spent a lot of time on field trips. Our tagline when the girls were in the elementary grades could have been “Life is a Field Trip.”
Our girls have had a different educational experience than many of their friends because both Kurt and I have worked all the years we have been home educating. My working wasn’t for luxuries, it was for necessities. I have often asked God why I needed to work when most other home educating Moms get to stay home with their children. His answer has always been “My Grace is sufficient.”
Now the girls are both in High School and my teaching style has definitely changed over the years. We still follow a mostly Charlotte Mason philosophy, but how we implement it has changed. As each daughter went through the middle school years, I worked with them to become more independent learners. Part of this was necessitated by my work schedule, but mostly because it works so wonderfully! As Emily, and then Arlene, learned just how much of their schoolwork could be done independently, our freedom to get back to field trips and other out-of-home experiences increased – without adding more stress to my already full days.
For the past 5 years, Emily has worked as a volunteer at a local-ish living history museum. Arlene has been a part of this same youth volunteer program for the past 4 years. As this season approaches, both girls know that their ability to work at Conner Prairie depends on them getting their other schoolwork completed. Because they learn so much in their roles at Conner Prairie, Kurt and I want to keep this opportunity available to them. Emily has earned credits in American History, Social Studies, Fiber Arts, Acting and Theatre based upon her work at Conner Prairie. Arlene is working on credits in Nature/ Environmental studies as well as Fiber Arts, History, and Theatre.
My teaching has gone from hands on to more of hands-off. Now we walk alongside them and provide the necessary materials for them to learn by themselves. There are still subjects where I sit down with the girls and work with them, like Algebra and grammar, but they do the majority of their work independently. Our girls are taking a group Literature class that one of my friends is graciously hosting, and they participate in the teen choirs at church.
More than just checking the boxes to a completed transcript, this change in teaching styles has allowed me to focus on continuing to tie heart strings, something we have always valued as a family. As they take more and more of the responsibility for their own educations, our daughters free Kurt and I time to spend with them just being a family and doing fun things. We have always lived the educational lifestyle as a family, we all like to learn. As we travel you will frequently find us following the brown roadside signs to another local attraction – and enjoying it.
Life is about learning and growing, and following Christ. Our journey is far from over, yet how we travel through it continues to change. Be encouraged, your little children will grow up, and mature. Love on them everyday, for that should be your supreme goal in a home education, raising a healthy family.
Carol, her husband Kurt, and their two High School aged daughters make their home in central Indiana. Their adventures take them all over the midwest and beyond. You can follow their home educating adventures at Home Sweet Life