How in the heck do I put this all together???
In the process of preparing to homeschool I believe I have over-educated myself. It was clear VERY quickly that we are classical education adherents. I read about unschooling, de-schooling, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, A Bekka, eclectic model, everything I could get my hands on. But it was obvious that everything about our approach to parenting, and to life, firmly planted us in the classical school.
Why? Well, the highlights are:
We ask our kids to reflect.
When our children ask us a question, I am infamous at playgroups for responding "Well, what do you know about that?" This is especially true if I'm caught off-guard and need a moment to "chew it over" without a Twix :) When we read books and they ask us why a character did something, we ask them "Well, what do you think about that?" When they tell us something like "I'd like there to be a president of the whole world" we ask them "Why would that be good?" and follow it with "Why would that be bad?"
We don't BS our kids.
Within the limits of what they need to know, when our children ask us questions, from the very youngest age, we give them real answers. I have never EVER told my children that the rain is "Angels Crying, Sweetheart". When Riley asked about September 11th as we passed the memorial going into DC, I didn't tell him about my experience watching on live TV as people lept to their deaths, but I also didn't tell him it was "just very bad men doing very bad things on a very bad day".
We use big words.
We give our children the grammar they need now when all words are new so that later they won't be scared of it. It's pretty funny to hear them sometimes, especially Savannah who'll toss out words just to try them out. Lately it's been "Essentially". "Essentially, what I'm saying is that I want to go and play with my doll." When we talk about the leaves changing colors, we tell them it's the chlorophyll disappearing and showing the real color underneath, and we expect them to remember and use that vocabulary.
As we've gone on researching what that path really means, I've discovered subsets. I believe in a Thomas Jefferson Style Education, or TJed. I believe that by mentoring and encouraging rather than indoctrinating and stifling, we can create a better generation of leaders in anything from being a mom to being president.
I've read The Well Trained Mind, Amusing Ourselves To Death, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, A Thomas Jefferson Education, anything at all I can get my hands on. At the same time, I was educated for 13 years in public school. I also am deathly afraid of failing my children by taking them off the "conveyor belt". I want them to have math and language and putting it all together using all the things I've read is scary.
I think that what I need to do is start giving myself a little grace, and realizing that because I care so much, I necessarily have to do a better job than many of the teachers that I had growing up. Because I want my kids to have a great education, I'll figure it out, even if there are hiccups. But it's scary for someone, like me, who doesn't like to mess up. It's hard to mesh all these genius observations in the books I've read together into a lifestyle and a plan that make sense when I'm taking us down a road that I can barely concieve of given the way I was educated. But I think I see a light at the end of my mental tunnel- I just hope it's not a train :)