One of my projects during this gestational semester when I’m not teaching is to read up on homeschooling. I know, I know, it’s a bit early to think about the kid’s academic career when she won’t even be born until May. But I need a project now and after she’s born I won’t necessarily have as much free time for reading as I’ve been used to up to now. (Though I maintain I won’t ever become one of those mothers who “doesn’t have time to read.” I’ve never in my life been too busy to steal time for a good book. Reading is like breathing, I wouldn’t know how to stop.)
I’m going to post short reviews of all the books I’m looking at. That way I’ll have a written record of them when five years from now it will be time to start seriously putting together a plan of action. But I thought before I jumped into individual books I should explain my philosophy of education and why I’m considering homeschooling in the first place.
When did I/we decide to home school?
Actually, I’m not sure I can pinpoint a moment when I made a decision. Rather, the idea kept percolating in the back of my head and gradually it seemed it was the only option I was seriously considering. It seems to me Dom and I had discovered we both felt strongly on the issue before we even began formally dating.
One thing is certain I doubt I gave it much thought before I’d met a few homeschooled kids and was blown away by their poise and maturity. The first was Jeremy, whose mom got my name fromt he Marblehead school district back when I was tutoring several Marblehead students in Latin. Jeremy’s mom didn’t know Latin, he’d been studying by correspondence and was doing quite well, but there were a few things he just couldn’t figure out from the books alone.
First, I was impressed just because he’d managed to do so much on his own. The things he was confused on were topics not typically covered in textbooks but that a teacher would have nonetheless discussed in class (like dictionary skills and what information is most important to include on flashcards). Second, I was impressed by his dedication and attention span. On the first day we sat for about four hours, working through his major questions. We met for two more short sessions and then he felt confident enough to take his final exams and didn’t call me back. Third, I was impressed by his good manners and eagerness to learn. He thanked me enthusiastically for my help. He was excited when finally an idea clicked and he got it and was grateful for some hints that would help him study more efficiently.
Other students I’ve tutored, both from public and private schools, have about an hour attention span at most. Which makes sense, that’s about how long a class is. I realized that homeschooling had the great advantage of allowing a student to spend as much time as he wanted on a subject before moving on to another.
Some time later I met a couple of homeschooled girls on a retreat. I think both were in high school. One was a senior and one was perhaps a bit younger. Again I was impressed by their poise, their good manners and this time by their depth of faith as well. I hadn’t really been aware that home schooling was something Catholics did. But now I had seen it, it became more real.
And I had also become acquainted with the work of Scott and Kimberly Hahn and found out that Kimberly teaches her kids at home and had even written a book on the subject (but more about that later).