We here at Homeschool Digression have been taking a well-deserved break from the homeschooling endeavor this summer. Following our mid-winter move it became more and more clear to me that we needed to take the summer, and get our house in order, literally. :) So along with decorating and organizing our household, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time researching homeschool "stuff"... books, philosophies, publishers and programs. Cuz that's what I do: ridiculous amounts of research.... in everything.
Earlier this Spring, I had settled on continuing with Sonlight. The plan was to continue with the History/Geography, Readers, and Read Alouds that I had from last year, continue using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and Horizons Math, and add in Math-U-See and All About Spelling. But I finally got around to reading The Well-Trained Mind and The Read-Aloud Handbook which both really impacted me.
The Read-Aloud Handbook was such a pleasant surprise. I fully expected it to be a listing of books to read to the boys. That was included, but the majority of the book really focused on the many benefits of reading aloud. It really reinforced my commitment to reading to the boys, and my decision to stick with Sonlight, since they place a heavy emphasis on reading as an educational tool.
The Well-Trained Mind impacted me a bit differently in that it details more of a philosophical approach to teaching, called Classical Education. Classical Education gears teaching methods to the child's developmental stages. For instance in the early grades, kids are constantly recording all sorts of new information: facts, dates, languages, rules. This becomes a basis later on for logic and later for articulating or debating positions on different subjects. According to this teaching method, I am encouraged to fill my son's mind with all manner of facts, exposing him to Ancient History via chronological history stories, books and then have him tell me the stories back and then illustrate them.
I'm probably not going to follow this to the extent that they outline in the book, but what I liked was the idea of teaching History chronologically, and starting with Ancient History in the first grade. I was never very big into History in school myself. In fact it was the one subject that I really struggled with, but after I became a Christian, I began to see History as God's story through the ages. I just can't get enough of it. So last week I borrowed The Story of the World from our local library to see how I liked it, and I LOVE it! It's not terribly deep and there are things that I don't like about it, but I really love the way that it puts the stories in order, and I think it's a good starting point for teaching History to little ones. I'm thinking that I can still use the Sonlight History books in conjunction with The Story of the World.