Which of course is always changing as I mature and learn new things. If photographs could communicate my educational philosophy then I will present the following:
Now I understand that everything cannot be learned on a trip to the park feeding ducks. Not even when there are extra beautiful ducks like that wood duck (that I was obsessed with photographing and was completely enamored by). But I do believe at young ages, probably 10 and under, the outdoors, great living books, and lots of real life experiences are the best classroom. Any table work I believe should be done according to the desires and readiness of your own individual child.
Last year Micah was 5, turning 6, so I assumed we would of course "do" kindergarten. I had even decided on a light kindergarten plan. His table work would consist of 2 pages of handwriting using "Handwriting Without Tears", one lesson in "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and one lesson using Math U See's Alpha (I think I'm remembering that right, whatever their primer is). Other than that, he would hear great stories and study great places through living books that I would read aloud, some geared more towards his older brother who was in 4th grade and some that were just for everyone, like Heidi.
Well, half way through the year reading lessons were grueling, he was fighting me every step of the way, and we had hit a brick wall in math when we got to adding in the hundreds. I finally decided that we would just stop and pick it up again the next year. After all he was only six.
This year he was 6 turning 7. I bought My Father's World kindergarten curriculum which is very very simple. It teaches the child the letter sounds and gets them blending and reading simple words. It has flashcards that have the Upper and Lower case letters and a picture that starts with that letter. It has a song that goes through all the letter sounds, such as "A-a apple, B-b butterfly, C-c cow, D-d dinosaur". I think it was through this song he learned the sounds very quickly. Within a few months Micah was noticing words and sounding them out all on his own. I finally had to stop using the curriculum because he was way ahead of it. It's amazing how easy it has been to teach Micah to read once he was ready. He really has taught himself. I bought an Abeka book that a friend of mine uses to aid in teaching him the phonics rules.
As far as math goes, we just recently pulled back out the Math U See book from last year and he is FLYING through it and he TOTALLY gets it!
As far as a particular philosophy that I try to adhere to, Charlotte Mason's method would be it.
Who Was Charlotte Mason?
by Anne White
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who believed that education was about more than training for a job, passing an exam, or getting into the right college. She said education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life; it was about finding out who we were and how we fit into the world of human beings and into the universe God created. But this kind of thinking was pretty much eclipsed during the 20th century by demands for more exams and more workers.
In 1987, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay wrote a book called For the Children's Sake, which reintroduced parents to Charlotte Mason's methods and philosophy, and it started to gain a foothold with a new generation of homeschoolers.
Charlotte Mason believed that children are able to deal with ideas and knowledge, that they are not blank slates or empty sacks to be filled with information. She thought children should do the work of dealing with ideas and knowledge, rather than the teacher acting as a middle man, dispensing filtered knowledge. A Charlotte Mason education includes first-hand exposure to great and noble ideas through books in each school subject, and through art, music and poetry.
The knowledge of God, as found in the Bible, is the primary knowledge and the most important.
History is taught chronologically, using well-written history books, source documents and biographies.
Literature is taught along with history, using books from or about the same time period
Language arts skills are learned through narration, which consists of the child telling back a story, first orally and later in written form; copywork, or the transcribing of a well-written piece of literature; and dictation of passages from their books.
Memorization was used by Charlotte Mason not so much to assimilate facts, but to give children material to meditate or "chew" on, so her students memorized scripture and poetry.
Science in the early years emphasizes nature study with an emphasis on close, focused observation of creation as a means to knowledge of God. Charlotte Mason was very excited about science. She felt that all the new things people were discovering in her lifetime were part of God's revelation, including the theory of evolution which was accepted by many Christians at the time. Christians using her methods now can still identify with her emphasis on nurturing curiosity and a sense of wonder, although most will teach that from a creationist viewpoint rather than an evolutionary one.
There is some overlap in Charlotte Mason and classical schooling, especially in the upper years; but there are also differences in methods and viewpoint. CM is not unschooling, although it uses some informal teaching methods and does encourage a fair amount of free time, especially outdoors. It's not a back-to-basics approach, although the basics are not neglected, just taught in different ways. And it's not a unit study method, although history and literature studies are combined.
A CM schedule would feature short lessons (10 to 20 minutes per subject for the younger children, but longer for older ones) with an emphasis on excellent execution and focused attention, whether that is in thinking through a challenging math problem, looking carefully at a painting and then describing it, copying just a few words neatly, or listening to a short Bible episode and telling it back.
Habit training is emphasized from a young age; children are taught the meaning of the CM school motto "I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will." There are no gold stars or prizes, and competition with others is discouraged; each child is simply encouraged to do his best in everything.