Friday, August 16, 2013

Homeschooling Siblings The Classical Way

I have two boys, two years apart, and a little girl who is not of homeschooling age yet. Having chosen to go with the classical approach, the first hard choice to make was how to plan the study of history and science for the boys.

Rajiv, the oldest, has done first grade in a regular school before staying home, but I decided to start fresh with the study of ancient history and life sciences. He had not done any history in school yet anyway and what they had done in science was not so systematic that it would feel like a repeat for him, so it was a pretty easy choice.

Rohan is younger and in principle could wait a year or two before starting the full-fledged "Grammar Stage", but then I would have two children covering different topics in the two main subjects - those on which we spend the most time - and I don't think I could handle that. Plus, we do history and science by reading together and discussing a lot, in addition to using some videos and other materials, so it is hard to cut off a sibling from all of it just because it is not his turn at that particular moment to learn those things. We have been homeschooling for only a few weeks, but it is already clear that it makes sense for us to have both boys learning the same topics, while working at their own level in the individual activities.

In history we have started from the origin of life on Earth, briefly, and now we are looking in some detail at what is known about the early people in prehistorical times. Both of the boys have picked up quite a lot of ideas. Even the youngest one understands that we are talking about the lives of people who live a long time ago and that we are trying to deduce what things might have been like from the clues that are left. This means he is ready to study history, I would say. I ask Rajiv to make notebook pages about what we learn and for now we work together on them, with me doing a lot of the actual writing. Yesterday we made a page for each of the most well known species of hominids, looking up information about each of them and pasting pictures printed from the net. At the same time, Rohan colored four pictures of things that prehistoric men have invented: making tools from stone, making a fire, painting hunting scenes on rock, talking. After coloring, he cut the pictures and we made a pocket labeled "Inventions of the Early People" to keep in his notebook.

When Rohan is ready to do more writing and organize his learning the way his brother does now, I will start doing notebook pages with him too, but it would be very boring for him if at that point I just said: "Good, let's start over from ancient history now!". For now he is enjoying working along his older brother - and equally important, the older brother enjoys having someone to help every now and then. (Not that it goes always that way: sometimes I ask a question and Rohan is the first one to answer!)

If I see that Rohan is loosing interest in what we are learning, as things become a bit more complicated later on, then I will of course step back and let him do something else while his brother stays on schedule. For now, though, I am very happy with home things are going.

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