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The Challenge

This is part of the series: Classical Homeschooling

If you’re considering giving your children a classical educaction at home, you might as well be aware of the challenges you’ll face. This may be depressing, but read on homeschooling mama:
For generations, parents have been obsessed with giving their children a better education than they themselves received. For modern homeschooling parents this challenge is made more acute by the fact that very little to none of the actual planning and teaching is outsourced to a professional staff of administrators and teachers.

Then, parents who would homeschool using the classical model must face the fact that modern culture has completely forgotten–even shunned–everything about classical education. Our national discourse is full of hand-wringing about poor test scores, high school graduates who don’t seem to know anything, and the economic implications of a failing educational system.

Almost nowhere in that national conversation does one hear anything about returning to a pedagogy that has worked to produce an educated citizenry in the past. Western culture–Americans especially–are obsessed with the present. We feign a care about the future, yet we ironically squander our children’s chance at a country with any kind of a financial future. How many families are doing this on a microcosmic scale with their own finances? But I digress.

Our culture has only a vague, if any, idea about what a classical education even is. “Classical education? Isn’t that where people a long time ago learned Latin and memorized stuff? Why would anyone do that now?”

Any inkling that a classical education might have held some worth for generations gone by is dwarfed by our other obsession: the practical.

Workforce training. College and career ready. These terms flood our national discourse. In private discourse, though, it goes more like this: “But I want my kid to get into college. Spending six years studying Latin is a waste of our valuable time. He should be studying computers.” “There’s no way she has time to study logic. We have to fit four extracurriculars into her schedule just to get looked at by college admissions officers.”

As if college a degree was a magical key to a fulfilling job and abundant paycheck, I hear things like, “Yeah, but when you have a kid in high school…”

The pressure of practicality on parents and students is immense.

So here we sit: we want to give our kids more than what we got for an education (even if ours was good.) Yet we don’t have much support from the culture, and we doubt the practicality of this insane endeavor.

Amid these rather convincing challenges, a contingent of edu-warriors has formed. Men and women with the constitution to stick it out for the long haul, to face the self-doubt and cultural pressures. You can find them meeting up in the summer for conferences like this one or this one.

Welcome. You’re among friends here.

Tomorrow we’ll take on the practicality of classical education. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how practical it can be.

 

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

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  • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
  • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
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I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
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So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
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What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
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This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
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Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
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The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
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How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
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Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
  • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting
  • This is the best kind of helpful. 🥰💛☕️
  • Everybody loves bacon! Also, breakfast for dinner + wine + good tunes = a good, chill cure for a Monday. 🎶Man cannot live by bread alone🎶 @michaelbuble @thirdday @theweepies @ginnyowensofficial @norahjones #family #familydinner
  • Just in case you need this message today.  #suicideprevention #dontgiveupsigns https://www.dontgiveupsigns.com

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