Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How We Homeschool

This will be the short form. Someday I hope to write out a longer version of how we homeschool, since my grown daughter gets asked about it occasionally and doesn't know exactly how to describe what we do/did.

As it happens, my husband and I both are almost equally unschooling and classical education types. Our motto would probably be something like Freedom for Excellence, except that my husband would find that too serious for a motto. I will have to ask him for his version of a motto. He called his business Top Meadow after the name of Chesterton's house. Perhaps if Top Meadow connotes high altitudes with a meandering approach, that would sum up how we tend to do things educationally around here.

Our special needs sixth child, Aidan, has brought a new "spin" to the Top adjective, because he can and will spin everything, from a bionicle head to a bicycle wheel to a jack to the photos he takes which often have a vertiginous effect.

Our oldest, Liam, has just graduated from Thomas Aquinas College, a four year Catholic liberal arts college offering a classical Great Books education. Our daughter Clare is going to the same college starting this fall. Our second son Brendan is a different learner and is sort of unschooling college right now. He plans to take some community college classes in the fall, which will involve a 100-mile round trip ><.

Our son Sean is going to a public high school and playing varsity football, which has brought another "spin" to our life this year.

The children still homeschooling are Kieron, going into Grade 8, Aidan, roughly working as a first grader, and Paddy, going into Grade 1 but doing mostly Grade 2 work.

Since the New Year we have been using the Ambleside Online curriculum as closely as we can. It is suiting us very well, providing me with the "freedom" and "excellence" in proper proportions. Formerly I'd generally designed our own, but this year I was ready to simplify planning and focus on implementation. Ambleside is the closest to my ideal that I've found ready-made out there, and using it has freed up some mental energy I really needed for other things.

Like Aidan's education -- he thrives on a concrete, frugal-Montessori style and personalizing to his needs and interests takes some time. So do the details of his physical, language, and occupational therapy, as well as the plethora of medical specialists he sees regularly.

That's enough for now! If you want more background details look here and here.

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