Friday, July 3, 2020

A Little Bit of (Homeschool) Educational Philosophy

Google Images led me to this perfect image.

For those of you who do not know me, I used to be a schoolteacher.  After graduating with a B.S. in Science Education, I taught secondary science in a public school for seven years.  I then began teaching everything-but-Bible in my church's Christian school for three years.  From there, I moved to Indiana to go to Bible college, worked in the area, met my husband, got married, and moved back to the Mid-South area.  I taught part-time in the same Christian school for about 1-½ years before the school closed.  By that time, I was pregnant with my daughter, and it was time to trade in "Miss Ava" for "Mama" -- a very welcome trade!  (I had already long given up my "Miss Gunn" moniker from public school days quite happily.)  Since I've been homeschooling my daughter (who is going into 5th grade), I have learned that all those years of being in education were for the sole purpose of teaching my little girl who is my favorite student!!

Through the years, my philosophy of education has morphed and grown, and I'm sure will continue to do so.  In this blog post, I want to focus on something I developed a few months ago.  This is pure "Ava Kinsey" philosophy - not based on anyone else's thinking.  (So take it or leave it, but feel free to share your perspective.)

I am a life-long learner and I married a life-long learner.  We love to learn new things.  I always enjoyed school, and my brothers did as well.  I credit my mother for my love of reading.  She surrounded us with books even when we were infants barely sitting up.  It was always a given that we would attend and graduate college -- and we wanted to!  As a homeschooling mom, it would be great to be able to teach ALL the things and DO all the things and learn everything about everything.  But there is never enough time, and it's just not possible.  (I am looking forward to Heaven when I will have eternity to learn everything!)

Before Gracie entered K-5, I went to a Homeschool Workshop and the most important thing I learned was to provide lots of exposure but do not necessarily go deep; instead, go wide and shallow.  Later, one can go deep in the subjects that the children are interested in and that will benefit their chosen career path.  That was life-changing to me.  I learned that it's ok to not do all the hard academic subjects if your child is not destined to be an engineer or medical doctor.  I do believe, however, that it's important to provide lots of exposure to many topics and to develop the necessary skills to make it easier for my child to pursue whatever God has for her.

A few months ago, I was having trouble making decisions about what is most important to include in our studies (because we can't do all the things) and wanted to make sure that the essentials are included.  But what is essential?  And why is it essential?  I came up with four main categories of subjects plus a general list of Independent Skills Practice (also known as homework).

Categorizing School Subjects

I have come up with four main categories:

Essential Academic Skills -- These are the skills that are necessary to progress with any schooling as well as with life.

Essential Academic Knowledge -- These are knowledge-based subjects that are essential to know.

Essential Life Skills -- These skills are not academic in nature but are important to be successful in life.

Enrichment Subjects and Projects -- These subjects are not "essential," but serve to make life more enjoyable. 

Essential Academic Skills include the three R's (Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic) plus Bible (if you're Christian, which we are) plus all that promotes effective communication skills.  These should be studied on a daily basis if at all possible even if each session is short and sweet.
  • Bible

  • Bible Memory

  • Storytime (aka Literature - listening while being read aloud)

  • Reading (practice reading aloud, independent reading)

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Handwriting/Penmanship

  • Language Arts (Grammar, Composition, Vocabulary)

  • Spelling

  • Speech

  • Math Facts

  • Math Application

  • Math Puzzles

Essential Academic Knowledge subjects do not necessarily have to be studied every day but should be incorporated several times a week.
  • Geography (plus the skill of map reading)

  • Science

  • History/Social Studies

Essential Life Skills subjects are to be incorporated when it is appropriate for the child to learn.
  • Personal Finance

  • Home Economics (Cooking, Sewing, Managing a Household)

  • Outdoor Skills (Gardening, Yardwork)

  • Home Repair

  • Typing

Enrichment Subjects and Projects subjects are sometimes left off due to a lack of time. I personally believe that everyone should develop a skill in music whether it be singing or playing an instrument. My cousin, who teaches piano and strings, once told me that music is one thing we know we will be doing in Heaven, so it makes sense to learn and get ready now on earth! I also believe that music is a universal tool to be a blessing and spiritual help to people.
  • Music Performance and Music Theory

  • Art Appreciation

  • Music Appreciation

  • Poetry


  • Arts & Crafts

Lastly, here is a general list of Independent Skills Practice (aka Homework) that children should do on a regular basis:
  • Bible Memory

  • Language Arts Homework

  • Math Homework

  • Independent Reading 

  • Handwriting

  • Math Facts Practice

  • Music Practice

  • Typing Practice

  • Geography/Science/History Homework

  • Other Memory Work

  • Hands-On Projects

I don't know if this is a help to anyone else.  I would enjoy hearing your thoughts about this or any other education-related topic.

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