Paidea Classics is asking experienced homeschoolers to share their experience through this blog in a series of posts. Some will be identified and some will not. We hope to make this blog more useful and worthwhile to visit on a regular basis, as an alternative to social media.
Homeschooling mom #1:
I am a mother of nine (all homeschooled) and grandmother of 3 (2 born, and one due in August). Three of our children have graduated from college and one has a masters. The two other graduates hope to continue in higher education. Our younger adult children are choosing life experience and trade school before pursuing higher education.
We started homeschooling 26+ years ago when our oldest was 5 and learned to read on his own after we purchased 'Reader Rabbit' for the computer. We entered the Orthodox Church almost 25 years ago when our oldest was 7. In the early days of Orthodox homeschooling, there were few Orthodox who homeschooled and zero Orthodox curriculum available.
I became fascinated with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and Ambleside Online, a website based on her philosophy, that provided an online curriculum built on freely available public domain texts. I then became intrigued with the possibility of compiling public domain texts that were Orthodox-friendly, that can be used within an Orthodox context. And I was interested in combining the practical approach of Charlotte Mason, a less scholastic and more home-friendly, gentle approach to classical education, with the theological understanding of Byzantine Classical education. This was how paideaclassics.org was born, 20 years ago. At that time, (western scholastic-based) Classical and Charlotte Mason were the most popular approaches to education within the Orthodox homeschooling community because they both were literature-based and could very easily be tweaked through careful book selection to meet Orthodox needs. Now the Orthodox homeschool community has boomed and there is a much wider range of educational philosophies and curriculum choices available.
Regardless, what our family has found most helpful in our 26+ years of homeschooling, was the regular habit of reading the Bible, the Prologue from Ochrid, and the Law of God to our children as well as well-chosen pieces of literature. Our children blew away their well-taught Protestant homeschooled peers in their Bible knowledge at a very early age, and our Protestant bible-believing homeschooling friends wondered what curriculum we were using for Bible. It was simply reading the Bible to our children.
Our children developed a love for reading and a comfort and familiarity in rich language which affected their ability to speak well, think well and write well.
In the end, I do not believe curriculum is most important, but actually reading quality material to our children and passing on a love of reading as well as learning through exploring the beautiful natural world around us. Even though there has been many years I have failed miserably as a homeschooling mother, once our children had these loves established, they could self-learn and continue in their home education even when I was less able to direct them closely. This is my experience as a mom of many.