Sunday, March 10, 2013

In medias res - the middle child and the beauty of studying classically

We have been homeschooling for over 8 or so years now. We started with our eldest child, Lily and have in the past few years "formally" been homeschooling our middle child and second daughter, Wilder. Now I am taking the time to point out that our first two children are girls because our youngest - Atticus, a boy, is already making me rethink some things that I had thought before - that however is another story or post in the making. I am starting in medias res - in the middle - because when we started "formally" homeschooling our middle child a few things clarified. First, we should just say that in the journey of parenting and definitely in the journey of homeschooling you will have many clarifying moments that will help you see clearly what you are or are not doing and how that will help you meet your end goal. My clarifying moment of late was with Wilder and her lessons in violin. We have been homeschooling in conjunction with a curriculum program called Classical Conversations for 5 years now.  I love the community support in homeschooling it provides. I think that whatever you are doing for homeschooling find like minded people that can encourage you in your work and you them. I have learned so many things from fellow home school parents. I am grateful to be a part of a learning community that reaches across the town, across the internet to the world. 

This deepening of support has continued to help our family in understanding the work at hand of homeschooling. The classical model believes in a lot of repetition in the grammar stage of learning.  What that means practically is learning until you have mastered the grammar. I confess that I personally did not love the classical model in regards to doing math. The repetition in the program that we first started with our oldest daughter was tiresome and dry to me. Now, later in our journey and with at the beginning of our "formal" homeschooling with our middle child I see that the repetition was a necessary component of building her math foundation. However, I have added more to the math to make the dry parts more palatable. Hopefully, at the end of her journey she will find they have blessed her in her understanding and use of math.

This crystallized even more when we started doing violin lessons using the Suzuki method. Suzuki believed that everyone could learn to play. He believed that if you nurtured your children in love and taught them patiently and joyfully they would love the experience of learning too. Guess what? It does work. Daily, repetitive, short and doable practice leads to the action of playing and eventually playing well. Simple - just do it - and do it daily. She has moved from a cardboard box violin, to Twinkle Twinkle Little Start, to Allegro and the learning continues working each piece until mastered and then reviewing the pieces to keep them playable in her repertoire. I haven't written here in awhile because I have allowed my life to not give me time to write here. But, again, this little writing spot has been good for me to again sit an clarify for a minute what I/we are doing in this journey - good, bad, or ugly. Choosing to do the hard and yet simple work of daily and repetitive grammar leads to the abilities of older children to pull from their foundations and or roots so to speak and write, and do math, and all the things you would hope for them. But they need the roots and that starts early. I stressed that we started our "formal" schooling for Wilder because we are following curriculum and striving for goals to meet. But in a homeschooling family you often are being schooled before the "formal" ages and programs you enter into. And even then you are learning valuable things that help you persevere as you journey forth. 

ad august per angusta - to honors through difficulties [ augusta refers to holy places, angusta to narrow spaces - the maxim is that we cannot achieve great results without suffering - from the book Amo, Amas, Amat and more...] For some reason that phrase encouraged me in this journey. I love the opportunity that I am having to reclaim my education as I teach these amazing subjects, but I also love the lessons my children are learning through their daily "difficulties" or struggles. Classical education is something which can teach you perseverance and self control to choose to "just do it". And mastery in grammar can lead to freedom in learning and that is a beautiful and precious thing.

God is good. Carpe diem. 

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