I love educating my children at home. I love the freedom in choosing what my sons will learn. But sometimes, it can be daunting making the choices. Once I have made a decision, I find myself wondering, 'was that the right curriculum choice?'
About a year ago, I was at the point where educating my sons was a source of stress on both sides. I hated what we were doing, and so did the boys. Getting through a day without tears of frustration was a challenge. I was seriously considering enrolling them at the nearest school and questioning my decision to home school.
I shared my concerns with a friend who home schools her 2 boys and she introduced me to the idea of reading aloud from 'living books', as opposed to workbooks. I borrowed a few books on the subject, and decided to abandon the workbooks and begin reading aloud books that were rich and full of life. I began to ask the boys to narrate passages back to me in their own words, and copy text from what we have read.
We all loved snuggling on the couch, or stretched out on a picnic rug outside and diving into a whole new world with our living books. The books sparked their imaginations. We no longer dreaded school work, but looked forward to it. But over time, doubts started to rise within me. I started to question whether they were really learning anything from all these living books.
And then yesterday, we found a caterpillar on our outdoor mat. Leader Boy Warrior excitedly found a container to put him in and ran to get our magnifying glass. On observing the little fellow, Courageous Boy Warrior said, "Mum that's a hawk moth caterpillar because it's got a hook on the end." What? Did my 5 year old just identify the caterpillar? I went and took down my copy of The Wonderland of Nature and looked for the hawk moth. He was right! And I thought he didn't listen when I read aloud.
After having a look at the caterpillar myself, I said, "He doesn't look very well does he?" He was moving slowly. Leader Boy Warrior then suggested, "Mum, maybe it's his time to turn into a pupa and die so he can become a butterfly, you know like in the poem." He then recited this poem word for word that he had learned in First Language Lessons:
Christina G. Rossetti
Brown and furry
Caterpillar in a hurry;
Take your walk
to the shady leaf, or stalk.
May no toad spy you,
May the little birds pass by you;
Spin and die,
To live again a butterfly.
So as I cuddle up with my boys using the very unconventional teaching method of living books, I do so knowing that it is working. My boys are retaining knowledge, but best of all, they are enjoying the learning process, and so am I. I cannot think of a better way to spend time snuggling with the boys. No more tears of frustration, just trusting in the process. Education at it's best.
Still taking lessons from the King,