Grade school. A time of innocence, that captures the magical essence of childhood. A time of wonder, excitement, and joy; unadulterated by social concerns and pressures of adolescence. My grade school years were different.
Most homeschool mothers are proponents of making learning enjoyable, easy, and memorable for their students, using “real-life” experiences and hands-on activities to reinforce concepts. My mother was no exception. Using a combination approach, she adored and followed Charlotte Mason and loosely implemented Konos unit studies. In her mind, and in her heart, she believed that she was teaching my younger brother and myself. She had read the books by Charlotte Mason, and had underlined nearly every page in For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCaulley. Better Late Than Early by Raymond and Dorothy Moore and Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt were books she recommended relentlessly to new homeschool moms in years to come. She swore by these methods.
Practically speaking however these concepts took root in a very different form. My mother had no formal training in education and had no idea what a child needed socially, physically, or mentally, apart from what these select authors were telling her. Practically, what she took away from these methods was “Don’t push your kids. They will pick up on what they need to know academically if you allow them to play and read.” Teach them to read is all they need, is a main tenet of the homeschool religion.
And so, my brother and I did nothing. We did one unit study on Jewish feasts and Old Testament history while I was in grade school. We did another when I was in seventh grade on Medieval history that Beautiful Feet books had published. My math was shameful. Between kindergarten and twelfth grade I completed A Beka’s 3, 5, 7, Algebra ½ curriculum. My younger brother completed half as many as I did. The thesis behind this was, “Don’t push your kids. If you teach them to read, they will be able to teach themselves anything. Workbooks are boring and not the way to foster a love of learning. They are tedious. Your children do not need repetition. As the parent you know whether your child has gotten the concept or not.”