Archive for May, 2011

Classical Education is Taking it’s Hold on Me


As I mentioned not so long ago, I, not so enthusiastically, read a chapter out of “The Core,” a book that outlines a classical model of education.  I found after that first chapter I had to keep reading.  The more I read, the more it made sense to me and sounded like something my son and I could do successfully and happily.  Previously, I saw the Classical model of education as boring filled with memorization and hours at a desk with little joy.  I was also turned off by the christian undertones I sensed from the classical community.  I then realized that we can still have a joyous educational experience with lots of freedom to choose what works for us while having an educational model that ensures we learn the 3 Rs.  After I finished “The Core,” I went and checked out a copy of “The Well-trained Mind” (TWTM) from my library.  I had previously read parts of it and was bored and overwhelmed.  Even after I brought it home this last time, I was intimidated (it’s a huge book), but I took it slow and it started making sense too.  I also only read the sections thst covered K-4.  I liked that “The Core” was a great overview and inspiration and TWTM offered some more details on laying things out.

So, I’m now on a path to set ourselves up for something that resembles a classical education, keeping in mind that I have no interest or desire to have a full day of school each day which is what you seem to be looking at if you follow TWTM to the tee.  So, we’ll take what works for us and leave the rest.

Here is why I’m attracted to the classical model:
– It offers a foundational structure (which I’m finding is important to nurture the personalities of both my son and I) while not holding us to an expensive and daunting packaged curriculum.
– It is strong in the language arts.  I truly believed that being a strong reader is the key to gaining knowledge and it’s already abundantly clear that my son will be a knowledge hog like his parents.  I’d also like to save my son the embarrassment I suffered with my poor spelling and grammar skills and I want to make sure he’s set up if his future job(s) require good writing skills.
– It leaves lots of room for us to explore and choose our science education.
– This educational approach may have high expectations but I feel that we can get in a rhythm with it that will allow us to learn the 3 Rs as a foundation for success by lunch time each day and then still have the freedom to explore the world and play.

Now to figure out what we do next.  I’m planning to take it slow adding one new subject at a time and getting it settled in before adding the next.  Per my sons request, we are adding Chinese first (no, foreign language is not recommended this early with classical ed but languages are important and loved at our house).  I just placed the order yesterday for the materials.

Farm Skills Class


Last week we attended a farm skills class at Claude Moore Farm with some other homeschoolers designed for elementary students. We had a great time. We pounded our own corn, made our own candle, carted our own wool and then spun our wool with a drop spindle. We all got to play colonial style games with our friends and watch a colonial housewife work in the fields we passed. A great opportunity to get an idea of some of the things kids did in colonial times.

MD Sheep & Wool Festival


I had a great mother’s day doing something the kids and I both enjoyed.  We went to the md sheep and wool festival.  Fun and educational.  We watched blade shearing finals where 3 shearers had to each shear 5 sheep with what looked like large scissors, no electronics. Just like they did in the past.   The winner won a trip to New Zealand to represent the US in an international competition.  We then enjoyed a demonstration of sheepdogs at work. Both things none of us had ever seen.  

My sons favorite part was seeing all the sheep and petting some of them.  Some of them were so tame that basically begged to be petted by passerbys.  I especially enjoyed seeing all the wool products.  I bought my first set of roving (wool you can felt with or turn into yarn), our first drop spindle and our first felting needles.  The little man and I included  learning how to make yarn with a drop spindle the following day for our Monday school day.

Importance of Multilingualism in Our Global Society


The recent re-emphasis on being a monolingual society in America has been very disturbing to me.   It goes against my interest in the multicultural world I live in and the importance of teaching my son to appreciate the many people’s of the world.  Language is a part of cultural.  

I think this emphasis on being a monolingual society is not only harmful socially, putting a stigma on languages other than English, but can also have economic implications.  Our children are growing up in an ever increasing global market.  We get goods from around the world and can catch a plane to visit just about anywhere in the world in a moments notice.  By teaching our children another language they will be better equipped to survive in the global marketplace that will only become more important with time. 

I will make sure that my son not only embraces his culture lingistically but also explore the cultures and languages of others so that he is not only able to communicate with the many immigrent neighbors he’s blessed with but also for survival in the global marketplace.  Right now, he’s a bilingual 5 year old that aspires to learn Chinese.  His father has a caucasian father and a Mexican mother.  As a result he is bilingual himself and has talked to our son in Spanish exclusively from the day of his birth.  

This decision to make our son bilingual was made before our sons birth.  It was important to both of us as we both have spanish speaking mothers.  So dad only speaks to him in spanish, we have an exchange student from spain living ith us for a year and he attend spanish immersion school once a week.  As a result of having s close friend that has a mother who’s fluent in Chinese and a really friendly neighbor that is from China, he’s been asking to learn Chinese.  We hope to both learn Chinese next year using the “Better Chinese” curriculum.