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Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
This post is part of an ongoing series
about the educational philosophy Leadership Education
(also known as A Thomas Jefferson Education.)
Find the other posts in the series here.
Last Monday I described for you the process of creating a homeschool compass–a plan your children ages eight and older can use to help direct their own learning with you serving as a mentor and guide.
In that post I walked through the questions I asked my own kids–about skills they’d like to conquer, books they want to read, and even what they feel their mission and purpose on this earth might be.
Today I’d like to explain how we finished off the compasses and how we are actually putting them to use in our day-to-day homeschool life.
What are other kids studying?
After my kids had completed their part of the compass, I needed to get to work myself.
I looked through the corresponding book from the Core Knowledge Series for the grade each of my children would be in, and made a list of the various topics kids in that grade typically study.
Within overarching subjects, I made note of specifics that I thought might be important or might interest a child–so roman numerals or telling time within math–for example. I also jotted down specific curricula or resources we already have that teaches that subject–practical ideas on how we could approach each line item.
Then I sat down with my kids one-on-one and read over the list with them. In Leadership Education, we follow the principle “inspire, not require,” which means we don’t have required academic subjects in our home.
Instead we read through the list, discussed it, and I made note of the items/subjects they said they’d like to learn more about in the next six months.
Afterwards I was left with plenty of work and research to do later on to find resources they need that will both whet and satisfy their appetites for learning.
Now that we’ve completed these compasses, what should we do with them? Where do we go from here?
First, I’m thinking about getting in on the action and creating a compass for myself–-then reading it aloud to my kids.
After all, showing rather than telling is one of the most important steps we can take to create an atmosphere of learning in our homes.
Second, I plan to review the compass with the kids about once a month–read through it, remind ourselves of what we’re working on, use it in making library lists, and so on.
Third, I wanted a practical way to make use of this information in our day-to-day homeschool lives.
I took an index card and wrote down the specific resources each child can choose from during their daily lesson with me–this varies depending on their unique compass.
Trishna’s card reads like this:
- Cursive (We use and like this guide.)
- Wacky Words
- Life of Fred
- Teaching Textbooks
- Times Tales
- Write a letter to a friend
- Write a story
- Read a book with Mommy
- Read a book TO Mommy
- Start a new chapter book together
- Science experiments
- Green Kid Crafts
- Little Passports
- Baking/cooking lesson
When it’s my one-on-one time with her on a typical learning day, I pass her the card and ask what she’d like to work on. While I tidy the kitchen or make tea she chooses, then I get the necessary supplies and we begin.
I can see more clearly the path ahead of us, and I have a greater handle than ever before about what my kids want to learn and what phase of learning they are currently in. (If you’re not sure what I mean by “phase of learning,” check out this post for an overview.)
Now I will gather all this information and have a head start on making my six month inventory–my own blueprint and to-do list, so to speak, of the academic and character lessons I hope to expose the kids to in the next six months.
I feel good about the direction we’re heading in–because now I know what direction it is!
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
If you’d like to learn more about TJEd/Leadership Education, check out these resources:
- Tjed.org – the official site of A Thomas Jefferson Education
- A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille (This book explains the WHY of the method)
- Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning by Oliver and Rachel DeMille (My personal fav, this book explains the HOW)