Scriptorium has two excellent posts on homeschooling, What is a Classical, Traditional, Christian Education? and Toward Virtue: Ten Lessons We Have Learned Home Schooling. I’ve provided the content of the second article as a list.
- Education must begin and end with virtue
- The best way to teach virtue is to model it in front of our children
There is no “best” curriculum . . . I have seen children from every type of home schooling and have never seen a success from an unhappy and unloving home . . . and never a failure from a relaxed and happy house running over with love.
- Our goal is not children who will be little images of us, but free to be the persons God made them to be.
Little children can be told what we think is right . . . but we should also encourage questions about . . . everything! Better spiritedness than craven compliance.
- Virtue first, and exploration over mastery of a few subjects
Above all remember that (as a favorite author once said) “specialization is for insects,” and we are raising ladies and gentleman. Don’t be afraid to teach them to do many things badly! We need more hobbyists, self-taught men, and amateurs.
- He must read.
If he can read, then Plato, Dante, Shakespeare, and Lewis can be his primary teachers. If he cannot read, then he is limited to teachers in his neighborhood. I home school so my children can study under Aristotle and Saint Paul, not under me. Do not so fill his day with other things that he has no time to read.
- She must write.
Early on originality is overrated in the writer. Have her copy the essays and style of her favorite authors. Eventually a voice will develop in your child… [this is the classical method – mimic the masters before you go out in an unskilled manner to express yourself sloppily)
- They must be musical.
When Plato urged that his young guardians be musically educated, he had in mind more than what we call music. There is no place for home educated students who do not learn to cultivate the human gifts. We are not raising workers or consumers for the materialistic state, but souls that will live forever in paradise. Poetry. Drama. Art. Music. These are the skills of the lady or the gentleman. These musical disciplines bring the passion, intellect, spirit, and body into harmony.
- Don’t home educate just to save money.
Figure out what private school tuition is and spend at least two-thirds of it on school. Buy the equipment the children need . . . buy good books. Get tutors (local Christian colleges are a great source) for areas of weakness.
- Treat the home school teacher like a key employee
Give mother (or father) a morning totally off (not just to buy groceries!). Use some of the tuition money you are saving to have a person come in and help with housework. Above all, remember that there is no external pay check to help her keep score so that some rewards need to be built into the system.
- Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Both of us struggle with dark moods, a sense of failure, and organizational skills that often end with the purchase of the day timer we forget to use. We are not perfect educators . . . most days we are just good enough, but we are who we are! I suspect that is a good thing . . . as the million home school house holds will all be unique, failing at different things, and flourishing in their own odd ways.
His conclusion is sort of inspiring.
Finally, the home school family is creating culture.