Sunday, July 29, 2012

Homeschooling Methods: Literature Rich


The Schoolhouse Review Crew is doing a blog hop this week... a Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.  I'm hoping to be participating, but we shall see. 

This first topic, however, is on Homeschool Methods and that is something I've actually meant to post about.  I've always felt like I totally don't fit into any box.  First, we go do something crazy like homeschool in the first place.  Then, we never did do the "school-at-home" type of homeschooling that "everyone" allegedly starts off with.  That approach never appealed to me.

Everyone I knew when I started either did a school at home thing, or they did unit studies, or they were unschoolers.  Those weren't me.  I attended some things early on, and found I had a hard time relating to anyone.  The unschoolers were aghast that I owned a phonics workbook, as were the unit study moms.  The school-at-homers were appalled that we didn't have a set schedule or that most of our schooling happened on the couch or on the floor.

After a couple of years, I became familiar with the neo-classical methodologies.  That didn't really float my boat either.  All the emphasis on how you have to teach history chronologically in four year cycles <shudder>   I got so confused when jumping back and forth all over the globe doing ancient history!  I realized I needed more narrative, and my kids did too.  We'd rather study geographically, most of the time.

I discovered the book Latin Centered Curriculum, and that was the first thing that really screamed out at me as far as methodology went, but that turned out to be not quite us either.  I started calling us eclectic, but that didn't really fit.  (All the eclectic homeschoolers I knew were really unschoolers who didn't want to call themselves that!) 

The one thing that stayed consistent through all of our homeschooling though?  Literature.  Lots of it.  Read out loud.  Or listened to as audiobooks.  Or even -- gasp -- occasionally read by my kids. 

A year or two ago, I started referring to our "homeschool methodology" as "Literature-rich" and I think that sums up our schooling fairly well.

When we first started out, we attended a homeschool book fair in Colorado Springs... thirteen years ago, if you can believe that.  At that bookfair, and the state homeschool convention we went to a month later, we discovered two companies, Five in a Row and Sonlight.  Talking to the people at their vendor booths, it just felt right.  My vision for my two baby boys was a whole lot of time spent reading.  Reading great literature.  Reading good books.  Reading inspiring biographies.  Reading non-fiction.  And a whole lot of time discussing what we had read.

I have seen that this works for us.  When we are focused on real books, our schooling goes well.  When we aren't spending time with read-alouds, everything starts falling apart.

That isn't to say that we don't use textbooks, most certainly we do.  In math and science especially.  But we also read biographies of mathematicians and scientists.  We are even successfully using a unit study for nearly the first time ever.  This study uses a lot of real books though, which makes a difference. 

What are we reading right now?  Anne of Avonlea is our current audiobook.  We're reading Shay's Rebellion for history, along with some biographies of the founding fathers, and Uncovering Exciting History.  We're reading Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers.  We're reading Lord of the Rings.  We currently are not exactly reading any science, though we did spend a chunk of time on Benjamin Franklin and at least one of the biographies spent a significant chunk of time on his life as an inventor. 

Tomorrow, when I post about curriculum, you'll see what our plans are this coming year... and even if I don't spell it out, a lot of that centers on curriculum that emphasize reading a wide variety of real books.

I'm guessing that most of my crewmates have completely different homeschooling methods than I do... and below you can click through and read what they have to say!


Amy B said...

Personally, I have always wanted to go to your homeschool :)

Debra said...

You are nuts, Amy! LOL

Stefanie said...

I just like to call my method "madness". I'm hoping that my youngest will enjoy a similar form of madness so I don't have to reinvent the wheel. lol