My inaugural post was entitled "Our Educational Philosophy". It was written seven months into our trial year homeschooling our oldest for pre-k and a few months after we made the decision not to enroll her in a traditional school for kindergarten. This first year was spent mostly on figuring out if homeschooling was right for our family and once we decided it was, figuring out how we were going to do it. It was heavy on the planning, and relatively light on the actual teaching part.
Fortunately, 4 year olds don't need that much in the way of formal academic instruction in general, and mine already knew most of the traditional pre-k stuff like the alphabet, counting, shapes, colors, etc. I did do formal phonics with her based on Romalda Spalding's The Writing Road to Reading (adapted to be less reliant on fine motor skills) but the other subjects were done informally.
My point in relating all this is that when I wrote up my educational philosophy, it was based primarily on my ideas about education rather than actual experience. Not that it was done lightly- I had read extensively on the subject and carefully considered a wide variety of viewpoints before trying to formulate my own philosophy. But the $64,000 question is how do I feel about it now that we're halfway through our second year of formal homeschooling?
Back then, I wrote:
"Our primary goal in homeschooling is to teach our children to love God and to serve Him in everything they do. We teach science as the study of His creation; mathematics as His order for the universe; literature, art, and music as the fruits of His inspiration; history as His plan for humanity; health and physical education as taking care of His precious gift of our bodies; and religion as His instructions for how we should live our lives here on Earth. We strive to provide our children with the tools (spiritual, academic, and practical) that they will need in their future vocations."I still agree with everything here. However, I have been more successful in integrating our faith with certain subjects than with others. History and math in particular I need to do a better job expressing how they are part of God's design.
"We seek to foster in our children a true love of learning so that they will continually seek out new challenges and avenues for growth. We wish to encourage creativity, thinking 'outside the box', and approaching problem-solving in innovative ways. We believe this is best accomplished through integration across subjects; hands-on experiences; exposure to great literature, art, and music; discussing topics in-depth; applying what has been learned to novel situations; lots of variety and freedom to explore; and a balance of teacher-guided and child-directed activities."Again, I still agree with all this. I've found the integration across subjects to be more difficult than I'd imagined. I got all these promising-looking materials to teach the history of math, science, art, music, etc. but my DD has not really been all that interested. Ditto for trying to do arts & crafts projects related to what we're studying. This is where the "encouraging creativity and thinking outside the box" has come back to bite me in the rear because she wants to do it her way (cue Frank Sinatra) rather than following the directions.
"We believe in tailoring the curriculum to the student's individual abilities, interests, and learning styles while still providing rigorous academic instruction. Our goals include the ability to read, write, and speak fluently and persuasively in English using proper grammar and spelling; strong quantitative skills and the ability to analyze data; familiarity with science, world and U.S. history, geography, and civics to be an informed citizen; computer literacy; and a thorough understanding of Scripture and Church doctrine in order to lead a moral life."I definitely still agree with this. However, I realize now that I neglected to include some important goals. A big one is a thorough knowledge of economics and personal finance. Our country is in turmoil right now because too few of its citizens have a strong understanding of those key topics. Another important area is home economics and other practical skills. I'm not necessarily buying into the whole "training our daughters to be keepers of the home" thing (though certainly I'm not knocking women who've embraced the traditional female role and would have no problem if my girls decide to spend some time as homemakers when they grow up). I'd just like all my kids (including my son) to be able to cook, do basic sewing, and other household tasks.
"We draw upon the wisdom of many educators including pioneers like Charlotte Mason, Dorothy Sayers, and Maria Montessori as well as contemporary ones like Raymond Moore, Susan Wise Bauer, and Laura Berquist."I am definitely still an eclectic homeschooler, with strong Classical and Charlotte Mason leanings. In addition to the above names, I've also found helpful information from Catherine Levison, Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn, and even some books geared at "unschoolers" by Mary Griffith and Mary Hood (these are full of ideas for experiential learning).
Overall, I think my original educational philosophy has held up relatively well. We've definitely made progress towards our goals. We could be doing better in some areas such as ensuring our family's faith is integrated across the whole curriculum rather than just certain subjects. It's been a learning process for me as well as my kids, and I'm sure that it will continue to be so in the future.