Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has just published the latest edition of The Homeschool Showcase (formerly the Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers.
I loved this carnival but two posts in particular made it really worthwhile to me.
Jenny Wren's Nest post on how shemade homemade soaps with her daughter gave me great inspiration. This is a craft that Shira would adore. I can't wait to get to Michael's to purchase the necessary materials.
The other post was by fellow Objectivist, Michael Gold. Michael is one of the few educators in the States who is reintroducing reason and logic into education. Others are Scott Powell from History at Our House and Lisa Van Damme from The Van Damme Academy.
Michael talks about Educational Regifting i.e. marketing spin by educational facilities on what is basically a case of The Emperor's New clothes in education.
Getting back to the educators I mentioned a paragraph ago, if we lived in or near Laguna Hills, CA, I would have given serious thought to sending Ben and Shira to school outside of the home. The Van Damme Academy is the only school I have ever considered for my children, but the commute would be too great from Virginia.
My kids and I learn history from Scott Powell from History at Our House. Before he went solo he taught at The Van Damme Academy.
I am not able to say enough good things about Scott's teaching abilities. Marc, my husband, who is no mean teacher himself, said that he likes to listen to Scott's history lectures to re-energize himself and to remind himself of how a truly great lecturer teaches.
Scott is passionate about his subject and imparts that passion to his students. His history program is so much more than Wise Bauer's Story of the World. Rather than just telling a story, he draws connections for the children, helps them understand why they are learning what they are learning and shows them how the great story of history impacts on their lives today. Better still, the only work it requires from me is for me to download the MP3's, to listen to them with my children and to do test prep with them. I don't have to rush around finding tons of reference books, setting up crafts or even digesting material before teaching it. Scott does all that for me in 3, half hour lessons a week. As a historian and gifted teacher, he is far more able to teach history than I am.
While his history course is outstanding, the true gem for me is his "History Through Art" program that you get when you sign up for his history lessons. I have no background in art appreciation and feel the lack most deeply. I feel that I am receiving the education I so sadly lack by sitting in on the lessons with my children. During one half hour a week, we look at a beautiful piece of art and learn how to truly look at and appreciate it.
One of the perks of homeschooling, is that I get to choose the best ways to educate my children. I fully understand that I am not their best teacher in al subjects, but that I am the best facilitator that they will ever have.
My goal is to have my children taught by the best people I can find in each field of study (sometimes that's me, but often it is someone else). Right now they are taught history by Scott Powell, art by a professional artist and art teacher, Lee Gerry Wertheimer, literature by my dear friend, Lydia who has a masters in English literature and who taught at the university level and chess by Coach Kala Dawson from Championship Chess. I teach the rest of the subjects because, for now, I consider myself their best teacher.
However, I am eagerly awaiting the release of David Harriman's elementary school science program. I hope that it will be MP3, video or live internet based. I want my children to learn science within a historical context with connections being drawn between concepts. Kim from Kim's Play Space, is doing a science class in her area that looks really good. I wish that we could attend it.
I can foresee a time when I may hand over the math to Michael. Even though I did three years of math at university, I suspect that once we get to calculus, that I will probably prefer to have someone else teaching my kids. My two appear to really enjoy math. The other day they told me that they want to start 6th grade math in September. This means that we need to finish the rest of 4th grade and the whole of 5th grade in 7 months. I think it is doable. These kids are so competitive. I mentioned in passing that their friend Benny, who is a grade ahead of them, is doing 6th grade math. That's all they needed to hear. Now they want to do math the entire summer so that when they are in 3rd grade, they too will be doing 6th grade math. Oy, vey, the genes of the parents are alive and well in these kids.