I have read lots of home schooling books. One of my very, very favorites is Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax. By most standards, it is an old home schooling book- practically ancient really- and it’s been a few years since I've read it (though it was quite old even then). But, I loved it because it was all about finding balance in our home schools- between rigorous, structured learning and hand’s on, interest-led projects. I'm not always very good at that (especially the rigorous part). What I liked about the book most though, was that it was also about supporting our children in pursuing their passions and about helping them to excel in whatever areas they feel most called to.
For the Colfax children, I believe that included pig farming and raising goats. I can only imagine the mess and the stink that came with supporting those interests! I do all that I can to follow the model of Mr. and Mrs. Colfax in supporting and encouraging my own children’s interests. Thankfully, there are no pigs or goats involved. But there is mess!
Here is our version of "homeschooling for excellence".....
My mornings are spent helping the kids with their school work. We work on academics until all the subjects are finished for the day. Spelling, math, science, religion, geography, the list goes on….. The piles of finished work add up. Hopefully, their little minds fill up as well. We usually finish all our work just a little after lunchtime.
Our afternoons are filled with the things we love. We all have our hobbies and our interests. And the afternoon hours seem to fill themselves up quite easily.
The younger children just like to play, play, play. They have great imaginations and elaborate pretending games they enjoy together. Their favorites are anything sensory- play doh, the sand box, painting or coloring projects. I provide the play doh, the sand for the sand box, the art supplies, etc…. There is crusty play doh cemented on all my kitchen utensils, gritty sand that was once stuck to sweaty little piggy toes scattered all over my floors, and paint stains on my tables and chairs. I also provide the soap and the elbow grease to try to keep up with it all.
My oldest daughter has discovered a deep and abiding love for chocolate. Her afternoons lately are spent slaving away in the kitchen trying to perfect her chocolate recipes. She dreams one day of becoming a successful chocolatier. Being a supportive, encouraging mother, I do all that I can to provide her what she needs to follow her dream. So for my budding chocolatier, I buy the supplies and ingredients, I assist with stirring or rolling or measuring when needed, I taste test the final products…. and then, I help scrub every inch of the chocolate drenched kitchen and wash out the chocolate ensconced dish towels and dishrags.
Creativity can be a demanding and messy thing…. Thankfully, at my house it's sometimes a very tasty thing too……