Diving in to Homeschooling
When we first decided to Homeschool, I had no idea what it would look like for us. When we did Homeschool Preschool, I bought a curriculum that I only sort of liked. I never loved it - it never felt like it had much flow to it - and I always felt disjointed and off base. I didn't decide to homeschool because of some deep educational philosophy - I decided to homeschool because it simply felt like that's what God was calling us to. I had read many books over the very early years of parenting, and traditional school just didn't seem to jive with the kind of parents we had been striving to be. I can't really put words around it in any other way - it was something that had been on my heart for years, and was a feeling I just couldn't shake. When I told a dear friend that, she said Then Crystal, I think you have to listen to that.
Now I understand how that argument can be challenging for some. I guess it's all too often that parents use "But God called me to it" as a reason for homeschooling - when really what they want is to keep their children from the world. There are too many cases of child abuse and neglected disguised as "God called me to." But I do believe God calls some of us to a life of homeschooling - and I had come to a place where I felt like I should really start listening.
I started questioning friends who homeschool on how they knew it was the right decision for them. As I heard their answers, I felt this deep gut truth ... that homeschool was the life God was calling us to. It probably helped that Kindergarten at our local public school costs $400/month in our new town - and that's $400 that we don't really have. So I informed my husband that I wanted to homeschool for Kindergarten and see how it went. He agreed that it was the right choice for now - and that we would reassess for First Grade.
And then we moved. And God gave me this amazing group of women who homeschool based on the educational philosophy of an old British lady named Charlotte Mason. I had never heard of Charlotte Mason until I met these ladies - but when they invited me to be part of their study group, I eagerly said "YES!" I was probably 5 pages into the book we were studying when I said to my husband, "I found it! These are all the reasons I want to homeschool! She put words around it all ... here it is!!! It's right here! This is what I've been feeling for so long!"
After a significant amount of reading, podcast-listening, and researching, we've decided that homeschooling based on Charlotte Mason's philosophies are the perfect fit for us as a family - not only for Kindergarten, but for the early years of education. Her educational philosophy meshes quite well with the pace of life we have tried to live for several years now, and it has been a breath of fresh air to find other homeschooling families with similar philosophies and lifestyles.
Charlotte Mason believed that formal lessons shouldn't start until a child was 6. The months of October - December consisted a lot of re-orienting ourselves to a new town and yet another new life, so it was easy for me to do "School Lite." A is just Kindergarten-age, and no formal schooling is required in the state of Massachusetts until first grade, so I embraced living into our transition. We used Five in a Row - and we all enjoyed it - but it never felt like enough for my incredibly bright, extremely inquisitive 5 1/2 year old.
Since A turns 6 in February, we decided to use the New Year as our launching date for formal lessons. I made book lists, requested books from libraries, ordered math and handwriting curriculum, and started to put a plan down on paper for a Charlotte Mason inspired Kindergarten Winter Term. D gave me some quiet time last weekend to get everything together, and A started getting really excited to "start real school."
With Day One in the books, I'm feeling so good about the direction we're taking. We had such a peaceful morning - who knew that was even possible?! We had tea together, we read books, asked questions, sang songs, talked about life, played with numbers, and began our introduction to cursive. A loved every minute of it - and I have to admit - so did I.
Stay tuned for more about why we chose Charlotte Mason and how we're structuring the rest of our "Kindergarten" year.