My parents homeschooled me for 12 years of my life. What was that like? Well, I enjoyed it! As I look back on my life, I think that my parents made a great choice. Even though sometimes I used to wish I could go to school like other kids, mostly I was happy being at home.
What I was NOT happy with was that my mom worked two to three days a week, during which we had to take all our schoolwork to the babysitter’s. I hated that, and I begged my parents to let us stay home instead. Finally, when I turned twelve, I got my wish. It was MUCH nicer, even though my brother and I argued a lot.
My mom tried A Beka, which I liked. This is a Christian textbook approach, and I loved the bright white, glossy pages with full-color photos. The texts were easy to read and understand, and were informative. I felt that there was a standard I needed to work up to while I was using their materials: study hard, be neat, do a good job, remember the important things you’ve learned. This was the closest to a class room experience I ever came. At one point, my mom ordered the videos which accompanied our courses, with a teacher lecturing in front of a classroom. It was so new and interesting! I felt that I learned so much! But, the work took forever to do, what with watching the video, then reading the book, then answering the questions at the end of the section, then doing any test. I wondered how school children did it all!
I also liked Alpha Omega’s Lifepacs. There were ten booklets in a course, each one focusing on a different aspect of the subject being studied (maybe a topic from science or social studies, for example); I guess you would call this the self-paced unit study approach. We did the booklets on our own, without any help from our mom. There were various quizzes and tests throughout. After we finished each booklet, my mom would check to see how we were doing. I felt a sense of accomplishment every time I finished one. It was probably an easier educational choice for her, since she didn’t have to do much teaching. I also liked it because I felt independent, and could work at my own pace.
World Views of the Western World by David Quine was another course I enjoyed, though we only did the first year (it’s a three-year classic course). I felt so smart reading the Iliad and the Odyssey! (just two of the many books included in the curriculum). Because we shared our books, my brother and I took turns reading to each other out loud. I have so many good memories of those times; like, when we giggled about how Homer specifically describes where each arrow and spear hits the soldiers during battles in the Iliad, such as, “and the spear pierced him through the right nipple, coming out in the back below his left shoulder blade.” That was good for a laugh. But there were serious discussions, too; like, “These stories about the Greeks detail how the gods are always interfering in their lives, either to help them, or to get revenge on them. The gods sleep with each other, and they sleep with humans; they play tricks and tell lies; they act wise or they act foolish: how different from the true God described in the Bible! All-wise, all-loving, never fickle or lustful, and never able to be deceived by anybody.”
That course took us about two years to finish, and that was just Year I! But, I’m glad that we read those books. By that time, I was old enough that I didn’t feel they were too hard, even though I almost fell asleep reading and listening to the descriptions of battles in the Iliad.
One thing my mom did that we greatly benefited from, was that she took us to the library every few weeks, and she also bought us books to keep on our own bookshelves at home. We always had books to read, and we loved our books. Now adults, my brother, sister and I are all readers, and love to add good books to our personal collections, or borrow them from the local library. I’ve come to believe that after all the curriculums that we tried (and I only named a few), it was just plain old good books that did us the best. Because reading books was a big part of the Western World Views study, that may be why I liked it so much. I liked the other approaches, too–the A Beka textbooks and the Alpha Omega Lifepac self-paced unit studies–but, I LOVED books. Because I hungered for good books, I searched for them on my own much of the time, without my mom having to say, “Here, take this book, read it–it’s good for you” (sort of like getting you to eat vegetables). No, that wasn’t necessary.
I read The Count of Monte Cristo, then continued on to The Three Musketeers. I read The Diary of Anne Frank, then read Night, and Dawn by Elie Wiesel. I read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Scarlet Letter (among many other books), all without my mother having to say a word to prompt me to. That’s simply what happens when you start to love books. Learning is automatic as all this reading takes place.
So, that is the approach I have chosen to use with my own children: the Literature Based Approach. Textbooks and unit study booklets are good tools too, but engaging, well-written literature is what MOVES you.
All right, more on this later. Right now, I have to hurry up and get done before the baby wakes up!