When I started this Homeschooling journey, I began by planning an ambitious schedule according to one method: Classical Homeschooling. However, almost immediately, I made some changes. We are Jewish, so I began ancient history with a Jewish history spine. Jewish history is actually a very good way to focus all of world history because Jews have been around for a long time and have encountered most of the western civilizations in that time.
However, when we started, I did history with the recommended text, the Kingfisher Atlas of World History. I added James Michener's The Source as a supplementary text and we have been reading it aloud. I am still using Kingfisher and I am having N. do some outlining--but we are doing less of it and I am choosing the parts we read with more care. We did Ancient Egypt and now we are doing Ancient Greece and Rome. Instead of following every chapter of Kingfisher, N. and I are focusing on the shifting centers of Jewish civilization and the impact that our people have made on western civilization. We are keeping up the timeline but we are outlining less and discussing more. This fits better with N.'s learning style.
We finished reading the first 10 chapters of The Source in January. The first chapter tells the story of an achaeological dig in Israel, commenced in 1964 at a fictional location called Tel Makor (The Source) in the Galilee in Israel. Michener then tells a very well researched story of the history of the Jewish people by centering the story of each chapter around a particular artifact found at Tel Makor. Some of the information is out of date, but that is easily corrected and the stories are compelling.
Today, we decided that N. would draw the artifacts discovered by the fictional archeologists at Tel Makor, and explain how they relate to the ancient history of the land of Israel. Although the stories are fiction, the artifacts themselves can all be seen in various museums in Israel. N. traced three of the nine, expanded their size and then wrote a short caption below each in which he tells what each one is, the approximate date at which it was deposited, and what it tells us about the history of Israel. To the right is a picture of N. cutting paper for his drawings. The Source is open before him.
To the left is N.'s drawing and explanation for the artifact described in the chapter "An Old Man and his G-d," which is about the initial conquest of the Caanan by the Hebrews between the time of Abraham and our later adventures in Egypt. He did drawings of the artifacts for the first two chapters as well.
The caption reads: Two clay pots made in ~ 1419 B.C.E. They were damaged by fire. They are evidence of the Israelit(e) conquest of Caanan.
I think it was important to choose a path and make plans for how we would do homeschooling. It is important to have a plan if only so that it may be altered as needed. The plan gives structure and direction. However, it is also really important for parents and child(ren) to collaborate on how best to manage the process so that the goals of education are reached. I like the intellectual rigor of the classical method of education. However, there are other important human characteristics that have to be nurtured as well. What about the spiritual and social and emotional needs of the child? I have been looking at ways to incorporate methods that address these needs as well.
I have ordered a book on the Waldorf method. I do not like everything about it. The narrow focus on Christian holy days and celebrations would not work for us. However, I do like the emphasis put on the times and seasons of human life and on community. These can be used in concert with the classical intellectual rigor to meet the needs of my particular child.
Over the past six months, I have had good days and bad. I have had worries about whether I was doing the right thing. However, the beauty of teaching my son myself is that I can adapt the curriculum to his needs instead of trying to change him to fit the curriculum. This is not news--it is supposedly the premise of IDEA and special education. However, the increasing rigidity of the current school reform makes it impossible to really carry out this ideal. Homeschooling is making my son into an autonomous learner--he has a say in what and how he is learning. And it is making me into the teacher that I always wanted to be!