Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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Leonie
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Posted: Sept 22 2008 at 5:46pm | IP Logged Quote Leonie

What do you think is the "bare minimum" you need to cover in your homeschool?

I am thinking about this, because of a blog post I read - The Bare Minimum?.

A quote from the post ~

<<<Here's my answer: math and good books (fiction and nonfiction). If you can encourage your children to practice and learn about math at least once a week (more would be even better) and always have a piece of rich literature flowing through their brains, you can be happy. With these two things they are keeping up with a skill that will be necessary to get into college (remember the ACT and SAT have math sections) and they will have a vibrant vocabulary and understanding of the written word (also necessary for the tests and the rest of life). They will also be able to communicate well because they are being trained by the best authors. And they will be learning things, "assimilating content," as an educator would say.>>>

I am not yet sure of our bare minimum. But something happened last night that made me think that perhaps our minimum is books, or books/movies/music, just because these have been so important for our family.

Last night, Anthony ( recently turned 13) was sitting in the family room reading James Thurber and telling us bits of his humour. A 21 year old visitor didnít get the nuances Ė I realised that all the reading Anthony has done and movies he has seen and talking we have done have helped him develop a cultural literacy.

Thoughts on your bare minimum?

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Posted: Sept 22 2008 at 6:06pm | IP Logged Quote MaryM

I would have to agree with the blogger you linked - for me it would be math and good books. Of course religion/faith would be included in the bare minimum but since that is the basis of living our lives maybe it's less of a "subject" and more of a lifestyle that permeates everything.

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Posted: Sept 22 2008 at 6:15pm | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

Hmmm...I was going to agree with Mary, but then I wondered if every child would automatically learn to write well just because they are well read. I think Michael's education was pretty much math and good books (and a lot of those good books were faith books) and he did indeed write really well. But, then again, I "encouraged" him to narrate those good books.

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Posted: Sept 22 2008 at 7:10pm | IP Logged Quote teachingmyown

Bare minimum? Well, since that seems to be where we have hung out most of our homeschooling years, that should be an easy one for me to answer! Math daily (in theory), usually some form of LA workbook (feels good to check off that "box" even if they retain little), and lots of varied reading. We go back and forth between "formal" religious education, such as Faith and Life, and just a lot of reading and living the liturgical year.

Of course, it sounds so simple and logical when I type it here. But today was another one of those doubting, despairing type days where I was sure that I was failing my children miserably and looking up Montessori schools anywhere near my home.

I agree with Elizabeth about the writing not necessarily following from the good reading. I am still not sure what to do with those of mine who won't write. But that's another post!

Thanks for the link and the reminder, Leonie. After having a child in public school for three years, I "know" I shouldn't worry.

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Posted: Sept 22 2008 at 8:18pm | IP Logged Quote helene

Leonie, that story about your son sharing his delight in James Thurber just makes my day. What a terrific measure of his talent, intelligence and education thus far! Who cares about the SAT? What a boorish inaccurate hoop to jump through.........my daughter is obsessed with getting a good score so she can get into the college of her choice. I am grateful for her general discipline and motivation but I wish she would focus a little more on real learning.


Woah, sorry. Just complaining, I guess!



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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 7:33am | IP Logged Quote hmbress

Definitely regular math and living books. Religion and habit training too. Then I would also add art and nature study. I'm pretty good about the first four, and not so good yet about the next two - this is my goal for this year.

Oh, and foreign language. Even if it's just saying "Buenos dias" every morning, or reading classic childrens books in Spanish, ala "Buenos Noches, Luna" or "La Oruga Muy Hambrienta".

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 8:46am | IP Logged Quote Lara Sauer

I have read this post numerous times now, and I think I am simply coming to the fact that I am NOT a minimalist...except maybe in kindergarten where once my child can read and count to 100, I consider myself done!

Reading and math are a no brainer, but I also couldn't imagine giving up doing work on good writing skills, penmanship, and spelling. I think a musical instrument is essential as would some basic drawing courses. I would want my kids to have some training in physical movement, either through dance or athletics and I don't think I could in good conscience not train them in a foreign language...SEE WHAT I MEAN??? THIS IS A WHOLE CURRICULUM, NO MATTER HOW I TRY TO PARE IT DOWN.

Since I can't be a minimalist, I better start honing my skills as an organizer!

Peace.

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 9:37am | IP Logged Quote Connections

I am thinking about this a little differently. I am defining the bare minimum as that which I strive to include or have available to my children every day. For my family, I think we could obtain a rich and solid educational foundation with the following:

Reading aloud (and books available for independent reading)
Real life/living math and math word problems
Discussion
Art and writing supplies
Time (time with my focused attention, time to ponder, time to relax, time to explore, time to question)

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 9:51am | IP Logged Quote Willa

Connections wrote:
I am defining the bare minimum as that which I strive to include or have available to my children every day. For my family, I think we could obtain a rich and solid educational foundation with the following:

Reading aloud (and books available for independent reading)
Real life/living math and math word problems
Discussion
Art and writing supplies
Time (time with my focused attention, time to ponder, time to relax, time to explore, time to question)



Very nice, Tracey. You always make me think!
I think that is where that "bare minimum" comes down and mixes with real life.   In my home it would be hard NOT to have athletics, music, literature, nature study, even foreign languages.   Different children partake in these different things in different ways, however, and these things look different in different times of the year, etc.

I usually think that when we're having a rich life, and adding in a bit of formal math and language arts (usually through a foreign language), we are doing all right.    I plan, but mostly to make sure things aren't slipping off my radar without me noticing.   

About writing, my experience has been that you can unschool it, though a little extra doesn't seem to hurt. My fourth child who is very kinesthetic, late reader, later speller, is now writing pretty decently, with only a bit of direction.   The older three are good writers, but this fourth one I was more concerned about because he never sits still long enough to write. But he can do it, though I don't think writing will ever be his hobby of choice.

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 10:24am | IP Logged Quote PDyer

This will probably come as a big "duh" to most people here, but given that I have two children I have homeschooled I can now see how it might be possible to unschool writing. My daughter was given a scrapbook/writing kit for her birthday and she has been writing away for several days, asking me how to spell certain (most!) words, illustrating merrily, etc. My son NEVER did such a thing, and he's my voracious reader. He's twelve now and writes decently and illustrates when he must, especially since the school requires he do so (and he won't risk his grade by not doing it ). I always knew he could do it, but he was so busy taking in and thinking about it he couldn't be bothered to express what he was taking in unless *required to do so. Editing to say I could see "unschooling" my daughter's writing, but not my son's, unless he came back home and continued writing the way he does now at school.


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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 10:42am | IP Logged Quote Sarah M

For us, the bare minimum is Faith, Nature, and Books. I would say that reading/math/writing skills are the tools we use to further explore our Catholic Faith, the beauty of nature, and a slew of wonderful books.
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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 11:24am | IP Logged Quote ALmom

This intrigued me and I think I would have to say with another poster that my bare minimum depends on the year, age and child. At younger ages the basics of faith and practicing the faith, reading, forming the letters, basic math skills and plenty of outdoor time.
However, with one child, due to particular needs, we temporarily backed off to simply me reading, discussing and practicing religion, me reading aloud and doing therapy. We threw in a page of 5 math problems just to satisfy the state requirements of 3 subjects.

After that, well, it is harder for me to peg just a few things. I think I have learned to trust the child to learn in areas of passion and strength with just a bit of guidance or materials from me, but they tend to need more help, encouragement, thought on my part in ways to make sure they come out balanced educationally.

I have learned that just because a child is a prolific reader, it does not mean they know how to read something in a science field or because they are great at science reading, they will read and pick up nuances in literature. In the end I want my children to be balanced educationally. As they get older, I provide lots of books and resources in the areas of passion and give the degree of direction that seems to keep the child moving forward. But there are always a few areas that are avoided - different areas for different children. One avoids science, another avoids literature. I focus more of my time and energy finding something that will click in the area of avoidance and try to make sure that over the course of many years, nothing is entirely left out. I might not worry about something one year, but if it is year after year, we do try to make sure and require it to happen.

Still everyone does do religion, reading, and math in some form every year. I am trying to make sure writing of some sort happens as soon as they are able right along with these other things.

I'm looking to slip in some music with one child - at least learn how to read music and listen to it. The rest actually take lessons. This child avoids it. But this is back to my attentiveness to making sure there is a balance. He will never do music every single year, but life does expose him some. However, it is time to think about making sure it is not ignored.

I am a detail, try to do too much type so I don't think I could ever completely say there was something I would drop if children showed no interest or inclination - just make sure they had some basic knowledge and not force it in a major way once the skills were learned. I do have priorities and goals for each child that takes into account both strengths and weaknesses, passions and avoidances.

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 11:30am | IP Logged Quote Lisbet

Since I have mostly littles, and lots of boys, I must include physical activity each day, sometimes many times a day! :) 10 minutes on the punching bag here and there, 10 chin ups, a ride around the block - this is essential for the boys especially.

Habit training is equally important, in this we often incorporate virtue training, catechism etc...

Read aloud time. This is a challange for me because I do not read well admid chaos.

Time for discussion with the older children. Even if I assign them a checklist of workbook stuff to work on independently, I know we must take the time to discuss what they did - what they read and what they learned.

Music - many of my children are musically inclined (I am not!) They practice each day and I listen in. We have alot of 1 audience member concerts here! :) I like being that one member!

Free time - time to read, write, watch, listen, play, build, create, etc.. whatever they fancy at that moment.


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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 11:51am | IP Logged Quote Kristie 4

Reading aloud (and books available for independent reading) Real life/living math and math word problems Discussion Art and writing supplies Time (time with my focused attention, time to ponder, time to relax, time to explore, time to question)

I love that Tracey.

I seem to work so much better with a small basic framework and a rich surrounding life.

For us, our basics would be different for different kids.
But the generals would be....

Reading (Aloud, alone, on tape)
Math
Music or Dance (boys here are into music and daughter is right into ballet)
A rich life- Nature, Art and art projects, poetry
TIME!!-time to think, be, create, talk, move, enjoy, grow etc.
(I would also add writing, because my children so far have not written on their own time much).

Thank you for this...it is very timely (as always )

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Posted: Sept 23 2008 at 2:55pm | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

For children ~8 and younger, I would focus on my mothering, play, relationship building, character formation, the child's interests, and physical health.

For children ~8 and older, if I had one hour a day for formal instruction, I would focus on building skills and do up to 20 minutes of math (using a program,) 20 minutes of reading (instruction, independent reading, or read aloud), and 20 minutes of writing (narration, copywork, handwriting - using a program, essay, and research.) If I only had 40 minutes: 15 minutes math, 15 minutes reading, 10 minutes writing. Thirty minutes: 10 minutes each. Twenty minutes or less? I would rotate the three.

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Posted: Sept 24 2008 at 5:20am | IP Logged Quote Erin

For us the bare minimum has always been maths and quality living books, but I do now see a need to add writing. In our family the mechanics of writing have not happened by osmosis and I regret it not being part of our bare minimum. And it goes without saying Faith is THE integral part of our lives.

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Posted: Sept 24 2008 at 9:07am | IP Logged Quote TracyQ

This subject is fascinating!

I agree with Elizabeth in that narrating is important. I think it helps to put the information they've learned/read into a more concrete place for retention. We hadn't done narration all these years, and now with our daughter doing CM for the rest of this journey after much prayer (she's in 8th grade), I'm finding the treasure in narration just this year! I wish I'd really done this in a more concrete way much sooner.

We've had so much discussion in our homeschool throughout our journey, some seperately with me or dad, and some together as a family, and some just the siblings bringing up something they've just read or learned for input from their siblings. We've often pondered ideas in science, word problems or ideas in Math, characters and analyzation in literature, battles and events of history, genres in music, and on and on....... I think this discussion based learning has been instrumental to our kids in so many ways, including a safe place to formulate ideas, a need to be able to defend a position, and as they matured, their need to always be right bridging to the realization of a need to be open to listening, and understanding someone's position before speaking their own.

The thing is, a bare minimum is so dependent upon so many things. I think of how in NY State here, we are so regulated, that we're told what our *bare minimum* is. In K-6th for example, these are our required courses to teach, and also to report on quarterly:
Arithmetic, English, Spelling, Writing, US History, Health, Science, Phys Ed, Music, Art

But they cannot regulate what we use in order to teach those subjects, so in we can bridge together english, spelling, and writing together in doing literature/narration/dictation for instance. We can bridge some of the science and health when studying the human body for example. We can try to make things make more sense to how WE want to study based on time periods, etc. But our minimum is dictated to us in a way in terms of their subjects.

I guess the point is, the bare minimum for each family isn't the only way to look at it, but is also dependent upon the WAY in which we accomplish the learning. There are so many things we learn that are never on those reports, or never done within the framework of *school*, but are much more important to their education. God gave me the words last year to carry me through the rest of this journey, which have blessed my socks off! He pointed me directly to them, and I've held them in my heart ever since. As I was quaking in my boots last year, with my heart in my stomach, and scared as could be about what would happen to our oldest upon graduation, He said.... Tracy, you are not preparing them for college, you are preparing them for Heaven! I'll take care of the rest!

The STUDY of our precious FAITH.........that's my bare minimum now. That's not to say that's all we do, of course! But it is the most important, and the bare minimum for our homeschool.

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Posted: Sept 24 2008 at 6:48pm | IP Logged Quote Leonie

Willa wrote:

I usually think that when we're having a rich life, and adding in a bit of formal math and language arts (usually through a foreign language), we are doing all right.    


Hmm, yes, I tend to think that we live in a rich environment, are involved in our parish and community and so a lot of learning just happens - I don't need to put it on my "bare minimum" list.

Writing also seems to have just happened here - but I know we all write and read and talk and narrate and the writing prompts we have used over the years seem to make writing just part of our lives.

Maybe, too, it depends on the child and his/her needs and age?

Perhaps just living in a rich, book and faith filled environment is my bare minimum. And then we go from there, adding and adjusting and deleting things as it seems right for each child.

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Posted: Sept 24 2008 at 7:36pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

Wow! What a great thread!

I began to quote so many of you, agreeing with so many phrases that I had to stop myself.

I believe it depends mostly on the child's profile and age level and I pretty much follow Tracey (Connections) lead.

Speaking of readers catching nuances though, that's a sticky one. My girls have been so quick to catch nuances at an early age. All three of them hooted and howled with Amelia Bedilia and today one of the girls was reading and laughing over a Garfield comic strip. They connect easily with literature.

My boys, on the other hand, need more explaining. They don't "catch" nuances easily. My oldest will be 21 this coming Monday. He likely wouldn't get the nuances either, Leonie, though my 10 yr old would be the one explaining them to him.

Yet, that 21 yr old is capable of the wonders of the world.

I realize, in hindsight, that unschooling was exactly what I should have done with that oldest child when all the while I was trying to give him a Kolbe Classical Education. The "Bare Minimum" would have sufficed nicely.

I think he has learned more on his own since he graduated from our little homeschool than he did while in it.

He didn't need classical booklists or Seton D.I.V.E. CDs or private Latin lessons from the pastor. These were heavy yokes for this child and bore little fruit. Less would have been more.

Here was a child who needed to run barefoot and wild in the great outdoors. Outside of school time he was catching turtles, eel and crawfish in the ditches, playing mud football in the side yard, playing Robinson Crusoe in the woods, and inspecting ant hills with a magnifying glass.

This week he scored a 97% on his college Algebra test and wrote an essay that brought tears to my eyes.

I don't recall teaching him any of it. If anything I was too hard about specifics and was not flexible enough. He was my experimental child...poor kid.

The blessing is that he survived. And I did too. And he's so great at so many things and doing so well. And God has taught him so much, despite my huge human inadequacies.

Knowing and having faith that God will take care of us and my children is my "Bare Minimum".

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Posted: Sept 24 2008 at 7:43pm | IP Logged Quote Cay Gibson

Cay Gibson wrote:
Speaking of readers catching nuances though, that's a sticky one. My girls have been so quick to catch nuances at an early age. All three of them hooted and howled with Amelia Bedilia and today one of the girls was reading and laughing over a Garfield comic strip. They connect easily with literature.


Okay, I caught this too late.

I meant that children who catch nuances in cartoons and comics and political satire at large, usually pick up nuances in literature very easily.

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