Sunday, August 8, 2010

Focusing on the 4Rs.

In a comment on one of my earlier posts, Cheryl talked about the Robinson Curriculum (the link is to my all-time favorite article on how a mom of many used the curriculum).   Cheryl also wrote out some thoughts about RC on her blog.   I haven't ever purchased it or used it as written, but the general idea is one I've gone back to many times when I am overwhelmed by life, or can't spend much time teaching, or am trying to focus on what's most important.

The Robinson Curriculum is focused on the 3Rs -- daily math (Robinson recommends 2 hours a day; we do considerably less than that), daily writing (starting with handwriting, proceeding through copywork to writing daily essays), and everything else covered by lots of reading and family life (like working on your home farm, etc).   Your faith and religion studies are considered to be part of your family life.  If you do it the way Ruth Marshall does it, you add Latin as well.   Perhaps Latin could even stand in  for formal vocabulary and comprehension questions.   I recently read that if you can get to the translating stage of Latin you are almost set for a writing curriculum too, because translating good Latin passages into good English is an exercise in word selection, syntax, linguistic logic, and even the basics of decent style.

The other focus is independent learning -- the children tackle the Saxon math, the books, and the writing with very little direct teaching.   This began because Mr Robinson had been widowed and had to work, so he didn't have the time to teach his 6 kids.   He would spend a few minutes reading their daily essays and that was it for on-task teaching.

And finally, there is a focus on simple living-- the Robinsons don't have sugar in their house, and they don't use electronic media until high school age.     I haven't followed the independent learning and simplicity advice so much.  

At the heart of it, though, for me as far as the attraction to RC goes, is literature.  Reading books for EVERYTHING (besides math and Latin).   This has always been the core of my family's homeschooling, so here is where I overlap with Charlotte Mason, and classical methods, AND Robinson Curriculum.  Unlike the Robinsons (and Charlotte Mason), we use some textbooks, but lightly, as outlines or reference sources and to learn how to make good use of them, rather than as the main component for the course.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this!