Mark Twain once said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." It is a thought that every homeschooling mom should ponder seriously and ask, "What requirement am I placing importance on in my homeschool that is interfering with my child's education and love of learning?" Even as so-called "modern" homeschoolers, we often times overlook applied wisdom from the past that we can incorporate into our daily teaching techniques that will bring both joy and sanity to our program.
If you have ever read the "Little House on the Prairie" series with your kids, you probably paid special attention to the sections where Laura Ingalls went to school and then later became a teacher herself. One of the things that struck me several years ago when I was reading these books to Evan, our oldest son, was how the children went to school to "say their lessons" rather than to "do school". School didn't so much follow them around begging for constant attention as it does today. Rather it was a place to demonstrate mastery for a period of time before the child moved on to the next teaching point and then, later, moved on with their day.
Today, homeschoolers who appreciate this idea of "saying" lessons rather than requiring the child to engage in busy work is representative of the "Charlotte Mason" method. It may surprise to you realize that, even though we primarily follow a classical model, Charlotte Mason is alive and well in our program. When I was in the hospital last fall with Evan for days upon end, it suddenly hit me one day during an English lesson with him that we really just needed to start "saying" his lessons. So, with the exception of diagramming and writing-related assignments, we started "saying" his lessons by talking through them. I found that he mastered concepts just as well or better and we didn't bog ourselves down with any unnecessary requirements to write it down. I also apply this with our younger boys as well, when it is appropriate. That way, any time they spend actually writing is a valuable exercise and not just "twaddle".
So in addition to "saying" as many lessons as you can, here are a few other "twaddle reduction" ideas:
As we are back in the hospital again with Evan for his next phase of cancer treatments that will eventually prepare him for a bone marrow transplant, I am reminded of the benefit of "saying" our lessons and avoiding "twaddle". So look for opportunities to eliminate unnecessary elements that may be cluttering your child's assignments so you too can make sure that the "schooling" you require does not interfere with their "education".
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.