05 May 2006

home schooling

home schooling

Laurel's been undertaking various pre-school exercises with Claire over the past months: getting her to learn her alphabet, some basic phonics, math games, nature walks, matching exercises, and so on. As we are thinking forward beyond pre-school, Laurel's been looking into various curricula and plans on attending a Christian homeschool conference a couple of weekends from now.

There's a lot of variety out there, though some materials seem a bit on the fringe theologically or culturally, for instance, preoccupied with "traditional" gender roles or a peculiar eschatology or rebuilding "Christian America." Others are targeted at a particular niche such as Mennonites or those interested in classical models.

While we'll probably do some kind of modified classical model ourselves, one curriculum that seems popular among our circle of friends, at church and elsewhere, is the Sonlight Curriculum. I'm not very familiar with the curriculum, but apparently it takes a broadly "great books" approach, but without forcing the Aeneid on uninterested middle schoolers.

It also approaches history from a multi-cultural and worldwide perspective, rather than through the primary lens of American history. Nor does the curriculum attempt to give children a narrowly parochial view of things, shielding them from alternative viewpoints or unpleasant facts about the world.

I found Sonlight's educational philosophy very encouraging, particularly when it states:
Sonlight actively seeks authors who can speak authentically and authoritatively for other groups whose perspectives are different than our own. Why? Because we can only speak persuasively to members of other groups if they are convinced that (1) we have listened to them, (2) we have understood what they are saying, and (3) we have empathized with their perspectives. Then, if we still hold a different perspective, it is despite our obvious understanding of and empathy with who they are and what they have said.
That, it seems to me, is an extremely positive message and embodies the sort of "missional" perspective that I would hope a Christian school curriculum to have. It also seeks to inculcate the ability to imaginatively step into others' worldviews, a skill that my own university students often lack.

At any rate, Laurel is reviewing various options for down the road as we think about homeschooling and this sort of curriculum seemed to excite her. Pray for us as we attempt to make some choices for the future.