Nov. 13, Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, an Italian native and the first U.S. citizen to be canonized. She became a missionary to the poor and sick in the United States and died alone in a chair in the hospital while make dolls for orphans for a Christmas party. At the time of her death, over 5,000 children were receiving care in her various institutions. Mother Cabrini is the patroness of hospital administrators, immigrants, and orphans.
Now that my son is in childcare--though he's only in another room of the small building, while I'm in the office--I find my thoughts hovering around and circling back to the concept of education.
I tutored three home-schooled children for a total of almost two years. Basically, I was their English and literature teacher. The experience was a powerful blessing and one that made a lasting impression. I'd always wanted to be home-schooled, since I begged my mother to withdraw me from public education around the age of seven; but this really cemented the longing. After this, I thought I would like to home-school my children some day, if I were blessed with any. And as the years run irreversibly, I've grown more and more attracted to the possibility.
Over those years, I've gleaned little bits of information here and there about different educational styles and pedagogues. I like aspects of several different methods. As of yet, not one pure style fits the bill. Not that it's necessary. As I've interviewed home-schooling families, I'm surprised-yet-not-surprised to learn that a tailored approach to education rather than a textbook one, no pun intended, is the norm rather than the exception.
My son will be three years old in February, and while I'm in no rush to cut short his infancy and hurry him into the long, intimidating span of his educational career (which could last anywhere from thirteen to twenty-three years, depending on whether or not he decides to pursue higher learning and how much), I see the foundational building blocks being laid already in his pre-pre-pre-K class for the standard approach that will follow. I don't know much about Common Core or the politics surrounding it. But I do know that I want to be able to have full input into my child's education; be witness to and protect his cherished childhood experiences; and to address the formation and cultivation of his whole person, spirit as well as mind and body, giving him a firm foundation in the Catholic Faith and Liturgy.
So, almost unintentionally, I've gathered a small collection of the traits and aspects of home-schooling I appreciate. It remains only for me to turn them around and examine them closely, weed out the parts I like, snip here, knead there, until I've got something resembling a rude rubric and/or curriculum.
I like the child-led learning of the Montessori school of education. I adore the seasonal rootedness of Waldorf and its reverence for fairy tales. Unschooling is very attractive to my undisciplined side. And yet again, classical education formed my great role models--Tolkien, Chesterton, Lewis--as well as everyone else in the western hemisphere over the last two thousand years. Charlotte Mason's living books promise to banish dry learning. Elizabeth Ann Seton anchors everything in the Faith.
I'd like to hear more. What method of homeschooling do you use, have used, or intend to use? Or do you combine methods, or just "wing it"? What have you heard, the good and the bad, about these different pedagogues? What are plans for children's future schooling, in or out of the traditional school setting? And why have you chosen this for your family?