Our oldest is now 26 and we began our homeschooling journey with him at the age of five. With our youngest entering high school, we’ve now been at this for 21 years! Our approach to homeschooling is pretty eclectic although I have been heavily influenced by the Charlotte Mason and Classical approaches. My mantra every year has been this: “If my kids are going to spend every day at a desk with a face in a work sheet, they are better off in some kind of institutional school.” So, I have striven over the years to make a learning environment that is interesting, hands-on and enjoyable.
Every single one of my children learned to read with a very dated copy of Sing Spell Read and Write which was purchased used from a friend in 2000. With the last two, I added Phonics Museum by Veritas Press to help them launch more solidly into fluent reading. We’ve used Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, Story of the World, Mystery of History, Beautiful Feet Books, and Ambleside Online as our history and literature platforms. Recently, we have joined with Classical Conversations for weekly discussions and community. For math, we were Singapore Elementary math people in the younger years! We supplemented with math games, flash cards, IXL, and other online math drills. My goal with math is not to let my lack of skill in this subject inhibit their abilities. Usually, by the time they reach Algebra I, I outsource this class at a local hybrid program.
I am a big science fan and was a science major (for a very short time) in undergrad. As our science spine in elementary through middle school, we use Jeannie Fulbright’s Elementary Grades Apologia series. To me, there is no better place to start with a Charlotte Mason approach to science that is steeped in creation than Apologia. We just rotate through those books again and again. I also infuse nature study into our week whenever I can. I say whenever because we don’t always get around to it and I’m not one to go outside when it is windy and 35 degrees. When we are stuck inside, we stare at our fish tanks and turtles. Here is a list of nature topics that we are studying this year: mushrooms, conifers, botanicals, small creek creatures (it helps that we have two creeks on our property!), ferns, worms, etc. We also set our watches on sitting down in front of the latest Nature and Nova show every Wednesday evening on public television. Often, the boys point out some area where evolution is being touted as truth. So, this is our application phase of science. I want them exposed to evolution and what is being taught out there so that they can engage on an intellectual level with all kinds of thinkers, all the while maintaining their faith and able to share a defense for intelligent design.
I like to keep the science hands on and not too text bookish until high school. By then, I am usually outsourcing their physics, chemistry, physical science and biology at either a private or hybrid school.
Since I am an English teacher by trade, I do feel pretty comfortable teaching writing, literature and history all the way through high school. Language Arts is such a lengthy discussion that I will devote an entire page to that topic.