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06 March 2012


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Whoo-hoo! That is awesome!


And thanks for the plug!


Just out of curiosity and not because I'm actually going to use the info for anything (if I were going to homeschool it would be because civilization has collapsed), do you ever have the oldest help one of the younger ones, for example with a math lesson? It sounds like it would both be a help to you but also a good way to do review of basic skills plus develop pedagogical skills, patience, and a host of other virtues.


Rebekka: Yes, I do. Last year, when I was teaching math to my #2 (then seven), my oldest's "assignment" was to do some activity with my #3 (then four). Sometimes he read to her, sometimes he played games, sometimes they did a small craft of something. And I often have #2 or #3, who both read well, read stories to the two-year-old.

If I am in the middle of teaching and #2 or #3 comes to me with a quick question, such as "what is this hard word" or "what does this problem mean," I often send them to the oldest. So, yeah, we do a bit of that.


I don't know what it is with school rooms, but it seems like they work and work and then all of a sudden they just don't work at all anymore. We have gotten to the point where we are taking most of the school work to the dining room table and only using the school room for art projects, shelving/storage, and the play kitchen that also resides there. I need to do something about it, but I can't figure out what needs to be done. Part of it is that I just don't want to be in there with all four kids (it feels too compact and overwhelming) and also that the table just isn't big enough anymore. (especially with the way that my eldest monopolizes it!). I can't decide if I should move her to her own desk, make the table bigger (it has a leaf, but then the room will feel more cramped), keep going back and forth (which actually works pretty well, it just seems kind of silly and causes a lot of walking!) or what. My husband will be gone for a few days later this month and I will probably rearrange then. For some reason I always rearrange furniture when he's gone...


And I would love to have heard that presentation about one room schoolhouses!!


I'm going to be reading this post more thoroughly when I have a bit more time, but I have a thought and a question.
I am homeschooling an 8th, 6th, 4th, 1st, and preschooler. Next year I'll add in the now 3yo as a preschooler. I'll still have a barely 1yo at that time, too.
I consider this a one room schoolhouse, for sure.
We're trying to make decisions for next year for high school for my oldest. The thought that keeps running through my head is that "There is a reason one room schoolhouses ended in 8th grade." I want to be able to make it work, and many families do. I'm just not sure I'm capable of adding high school into this mix. Any of your amazing readers have any thoughts?


Well, my plan for high school has been to try to get my kids as independent as possible before they get there! I figured that we would be spending a pretty big chunk of eighth grade working together -- the eighth-grader and I and my husband that is -- to decide what needs to be in the curriculum, which textbooks and other materials to use, and how we're going to put together his portfolio or whatever it takes for applying to whatever postsecondary institution he winds up being headed for.

I haven't ruled out enrolling any of the kids in a traditional or nontraditional high school, if that is what it takes, to be honest. We are fortunate to live in an area where there are many schooling options, even à la carte coursework at a small independent Catholic academy centered around our parish. But we are also enjoying the benefits of co-schooling with other families, which has really opened up a depth of learning that I didn't think was possible to organize on my own, because we (the parents) have been able to specialize in areas of personal interest to us. But we're still maintaining the cozy familiarity of being among people who care about our kids and really know them.


I guess what I'm getting at, with all that, is that the high school student ought to be taking on a lot of the responsibility for his own learning. He's got to. He needs to have the kind of self-discipline that most people don't have to show until they are a freshman in college, when Mama isn't around to make him do his homework anymore. I may be around, but I'm busy with younger kids, you know?


I read it more thoroughly. Definitely some areas I can improve with my 5, 7, and 9 year olds. Thanks for the thoughts.
My oldest 2 are already very independent. I thought my high school plan was going to work. 8th grade has shown me all the deficits, though, and I don't know if I can overcome them. She needs some one on one time and it's hard to make that consistently happen. I'm starting to see school through 8th grade as more general and high school as more specialized. I don't feel like I can do both justice. I've long envied your co-schooling set up. You are very blessed!


"I'm starting to see school through 8th grade as more general and high school as more specialized."

My theory: yes and no. You have to be somewhat specialized by that time, because there simply isn't time in the day to do everything, and so your student is going to choose to study some things and not others (or be constrained to do so in order to meet requirements she may meet later).

But you can still be aiming for a strong liberal arts education, which is by definition well rounded and broad, with deeper "dips" here and there into areas of special interest to give a sort of taste of specialization. There is time for specialization in college or on the job. The proper place of high school is to develop the child's mind into the adult one, and to fine-tune the skills of self-teaching, the "lost tools of learning" that Dorothy Sayers wrote about in her famous essay. The subjects are just the material on which the mind cuts its teeth.

Every school (home or institutional) has inherent deficits, and you could look at the ones in your own home school as teaching tools for learning how to learn -- because identifying and remedying deficits in the resources available to you is a basic tool for self-teaching. I would say, bring the 8th graders into the discussion of what seems to be missing from their environment, and work together on the challenge of restoring it.

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