Monday, January 15, 2018

Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool

Time for week 2 in this year's Virtual Homeschool Fair hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. 

This week we are all talking about Our Method of Homeschooling. I've called our homeschool method a lot of different things, but Lit-Based Education seems to sum it up best.

When we started seriously looking at homeschooling, we attended a small homeschooling fair event in Colorado Springs.  That was early in 1999, and until we went there, I had no idea that there actually was curriculum designed for homeschoolers.  I assumed that in order to provide the type of education I wanted, I was going to be creating it all pretty much from scratch.

At that event, there was a booth for Sonlight, run by a family that included Mom, Dad and a boy of about nine.  I think there was a younger child there too, but those were the three who were actually talking with those of us who were browsing at the fair.  I was pushing Connor in a stroller, and Dale was wearing William in a Snugli.  Both parents were busy with "real" customers when we got to the table, and they had Basic 3 (now called something like Core D) laid out on the table.  I was mentally oohing and aahing over all the amazing books when the 9-year-old asked me if I had any questions.  So, I asked him how this Sonlight thing worked.

He proceeded to show me the Instructor Guide, talk about all the amazing literature, point out how easy it was for his mom to teach, and generally just completely blow me away with how enthused he was about history, and how he was intelligently conversing with strange adults.

I took a catalog.

And I read it cover to cover, multiple times, over the next few weeks.  Usually in the middle of the night, while nursing William.

I fell in love.

We used Sonlight very faithfully for the next decade, but I found myself trying some other things too.  Did a bit of classical, tried unit studies, did some textbook... and kept finding myself being pulled to more literature-rich approaches. 

One big discovery while doing classical types of things was the book Latin-Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell.  First off, that book freed me from the idea that classical education is defined as a 4-year chronological approach to history.  Second, he highly encourages reading aloud.  A lot. The biggest take-away,  for me, was the idea of multum non multa.  Basically, that means quality, not quantity.  We don't have to read every classic, we don't have to read every modern classic, and we don't have to learn every detail of history.  What we need to do is to do a few things well.  And read aloud a lot, without dissecting every piece of literature we cover.

A book a couple of years ago, The Eternal Argument by Robin Finley, pushed me into defining our style as lit-based.  It was emphasizing the need for discussion-based approaches, and I recognized that discussion was exactly what one of my kids desperately needed. 

William's school shelf: Core 300 and Illuminating Literature
We are back to Sonlight for a lot of our schooling.  William is working through Core 300, 20th Century History, and even though he is in high school, mostly I read the books aloud and we discuss them as we go, or he/we listens to an audiobook and we discuss them a whole lot.  A few books, he reads himself and we discuss.  He is severely dyslexic, and reading isn't a strength.  That means that we find alternate methods when readily available, and he reads when necessary.

The Core G shelf
Richard and Trina are doing Core G, World History, though that is going rather slowly.  And of course, we had to grab some other favorites too, like D'Aulaire's Greek Myths.

The big difference with us as far as Sonlight now versus Sonlight fifteen years ago is that I no longer stress about reading all the books, nor about doing all of the included discussion questions.  Some books we just skip entirely.  Some books we read and talk about, but I never look at the included assignments or discussion questions.

Sonlight chooses great books, they really do.  But we don't have to read them all to be "well read" and we certainly do not have to analyze them all either.

This means a lot of great books, and a whole lot of discussing the situations the characters find themselves in and what we think the author got right about a time period and what wasn't quite so authentic sounding.

When it comes to science, we make it a point to read at least one biography of a scientist for some perspective on the human side of great scientific discoveries.

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!


Dana said...

I've always been impressed with Sonlight, though we don't use it. I could probably pass as "literature based," too. When I plan a unit, I usually start with the literature I want to read and build around it.

:) said...

We are using Core G this year for my older two and Core B for my youngest. We absolutely love read-alouds.

FlyLady Di said...

I am very literature-based as well. At one time this occurred using KONOS. For a decade we used Tapestry of Grace. For another decade we used Ambleside Online.

I always wanted to use Sonlight, but we could not afford to buy a CORE, and piecing one together was too much for me. I always familiarized myself with books on the reading lists and snagged copies when I came across them at good prices.

I now have three adults. The first two are readers. The youngest is not. I've always read aloud a lot. I've loved not missing what they were reading.

Kelly said...

We almost went with Sonlight, but at the time it was too expensive for us. I love their book lists though.

Annette said...

I would love to be heavily lit based but my boy would rebell...he likes books but reads slowly so school would take "too long"

Michele said...

We came back around to Sonlight as well because of the literature and history! So in- depth and my kids love all of the reading involved.