The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise is a fantastic book. It is one of the few books about home schooling that I recommend not just checking out of the library, or borrowing from a friend, but actually buying. I find myself referring back to this text before I buy curriculum, and during the year to see if I’m on track in my general (not all children reach a stage of understanding at a specific age) expectations of my children.
I like the 4-year stages (grammar (1-4), logic (5-8), rhetoric (9-12)). I find it similar to the 3-year stages that Montessori suggests. I’m finding that my fourth grader has matured during the year and is definitely willingly taking on more responsibility for her education, and is making the transition into logic stage, and will be ready for more in depth work next year.
We have enjoyed studying history chronologically. It makes more sense this way by giving cause and effect than the learning/memorizing of random events and dates I endured as a child in school. I find myself enjoying history, and learning history along with my child. The time relevant stories (fiction and non fiction) have made history fun. We often read the suggested books at bedtime as well as during history time.
We have also enjoyed studying science as topic for a year (Biology/Animals/Plants, Earth/Space Science, Chemistry, Physics) versus the random topics from multiple fields in a year, other textbook type curriculum offer.
The focus on writing in all areas of the curriculum are also important to me, because I have met many brilliant people who aren’t able to live up to their potential because they can’t communicate their ideas either in written or in a presentation. I feel communicating is important in any field of endeavor.
My only complaint is that, I found the time estimations way off. My fourth grader is very self-motivated, so only does 3 hours of school work a day, but drives herself to learn more in her areas of interest. She does best if I keep the required subjects to a minimum of time with clear goals and reasons to study a topic.