Homeschool moms work hard. They care passionately about their children. They spend their money on curriculum, and their time teaching and caring for their children. Yet every year countless moms hear the phrase “Mom, I hate homeschooling!”
What can be done when the kids think homeschooling is terrible and mom is starting to agree?! I know that each homeschooling situation is different, but I have a humble suggestion that I feel will help: practice relaxed homeschooling. Read good books, do copywork, and enjoy art and music. I know that this might seem too easy-but these suggestions aren’t just a way to “entertain” your children, but are useful for academic excellence and for bringing the joy back into learning. These ideas weren’t made up by me, but came from a teacher named Charlotte Mason.
Charlotte Mason was an educator who believed in children being exposed to great minds through music, art, and books. She believed that children were “persons” capable of hearing and learning for themselves. They didn’t need a teacher to pre digest things for them, but to simply expose students to great things. A Charlotte Mason education includes many things, but a good portion of it could be summed up in: reading good books, copywork, and enjoying good music and art. Let’s look at how academic these 3 simple things can be-We’ll start with reading.
How Reading Teaches Grammar, Vocabulary and more!
When your child hears you read they learn what a complete well written sentence sounds like. Just as your children learned to speak English well by listening to you speak. Children “catch” language by hearing it over and over again. This natural way of learning teaches them much more than explaining what sentences are. There is a place for explaining, but that comes later after they have already aquired a trained ear for language by hearing good books read to them.
Learning vocabulary words is also taught more effectively through reading than through a workbook method. It is much more natural to learn new words in the context of a story. If you are reading about a girl in a book who is obviously feeling peaceful and happy and she exclaims “I am content!”, then your child begins to pick up what “content” means. Your child will learn many new words this way, just as your child learned thousands of words through listening to you talk. So many language skills are “caught” by reading and it is such an enjoyable way to learn!
The most important part of reading is that it exposes us to other’s ideas. It is so important for children to”hear” the thoughts of others. Children are very influenced by the characters that they admire, and there are many books with admirable characters (unlike many TV shows!). I have found that books have been an important part of shaping my children’s character, and have helped them to recognize bad morals when they see them.
The Power of Copywork
Copywork is simply copying letters, words, and sentences. It is so simple, yet is a powerfully effective way to teach handwriting, grammar, creative writing, and spelling. Besides the obvious benefit of improving handwriting, copywork also helps your child to learn grammar and spelling. Grammar is learned by observation and copying-children naturally learn that sentences start with a capital letter and end with a period.
Copywork works better than “teaching” children what a sentence is. There is a place for teaching and explaining, but teaching is only the beginning. Copywork provides the practice that children need to understand how to use the English language.
As your children copy sentences, you can point out periods or commas and talk about why they are there. Again this is a more effective and natural way to learn grammar than “workbooks”.
Copywork also helps to put great thoughts and new ideas into your child’s mind. If the copywork is carefully chosen, it can also help with the teaching of history or science.
The Benefits of Art and Music
According to Charlotte Mason it is important to cultivate in our children the power to appreciate and enjoy things that are just, true and beautiful in thought and expression.* Surrounding our children with great works of art helps to cultivate a taste in them for things that are good. I feel that our children will find it easier to reject advertising and other forms of false ideas when they have been consistently surrounded by truly beautiful things.
The Bible says it this way-“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
I love Charlotte Mason. I love the simplicity and beauty of her methods and I believe her methods are academically excellent as well. I have recently finished a project inspired by Charlotte Mason. I am going to introduce it to you very soon! Keep your eyes peeled. 🙂 I will give you a hint though-it covers English, reading comprehension, grammar, handwriting, history, and art appreciation all in a relaxed Charlotte Mason method!! It might just be the cure for the “I hate homeschool” syndrome!
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