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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Mary G
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Posted: Sept 25 2008 at 4:42am | IP Logged Quote Mary G

Cay Gibson wrote:
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. ...

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.

Cay, this is the important part I think -- teaching them how to learn is almost more important than what they learn ... to know how to find an answer and understand why they want to is critical. I think that's the greatest benefit to home education .... we can lead our kids by our own thirst for knowledge ... and the signs may not be there immediately that we've "taught" them this ... but we'll see it as they grow and seek their own ends.

Back in October 2006 we did a "rule of six" blog carnival which discussed the six things we each attempted to include in our child(ren)'s day, every day. Here was my list then and I don't think it's changed much:

Things to Include in Your Child's Day, Everyday:
prayer and Catholic Culture

imaginative play

good books

beauty (art, music, nature)

ideas to ponder and discuss

meaningful work

There is no "order" but rather all these things would be the "minimum".

3 boys (22, 12, 8)2 girls (20, 11)

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Posted: Sept 26 2008 at 12:53am | IP Logged Quote trish

Mary.... your list of 6 things is great!
That's my minimum 'in writing'. I've just never really thought about it in that way before.
Right now the meaningful work is getting the garden off. So that's what we've been doing. Next week it'll be something else.
Lots of imaginative play and good books.
Yep.... I like this list. I'm going to write it down! To help me remember when I get panicky that there's 'no school' happening.

~ Trish ~
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Posted: Sept 29 2008 at 12:06pm | IP Logged Quote Vanna

I really needed this post. I have been trying to do a full "school" curriculum and have been overwhelmed. I have decided to leave the workbooks for when my oldest wants to do them (he does like doing worksheets) and just read good books together and explore.

I will probably reevaluate all of this after the first of the year...again. lol

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Posted: Sept 29 2008 at 4:12pm | IP Logged Quote Leonie

Vanna wrote:

I will probably reevaluate all of this after the first of the year...again. lol

Yeah, I do that, too. I tell myself it is the beauty, the advantage, the flexibility of homeschooling.

I ended up blogging on these thoughts, if anyone is interested.

The bare minimum? The messy side of learning?

Leonie in Sydney
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Kristie 4
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Posted: Sept 29 2008 at 10:05pm | IP Logged Quote Kristie 4

Wonderful post Leonie...just what my mind needed this day. When my bare minimum is fine with me we seem to enjoy ourselves so much more and relate on such a better level as a family. I have felt so frazzled this week- I visited too many hs sites that have such complicated curricula (for my brain) that I was left feeling that our choices must be so hoplessly inadequate. This was a good reminder of the fact that homeschooling, although it takes heaps of energy, can also be simple and deep

Kristie in Canada
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Angie Mc
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Posted: Aug 29 2013 at 9:59am | IP Logged Quote Angie Mc

I'm bumping this thread because I remember when it made me think about the pairing of formal and informal studies. We still have and hour of skills building each morning and find it to be our foundation, without dragging us down.

I would love to see what others are thinking and doing regarding "The Bare Minimum" now


Angie Mc
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Posted: Aug 29 2013 at 10:47am | IP Logged Quote SallyT

Yes! This is great! I'm so glad you resurrected it.

I think I think of schooling in terms of "core" and "application" -- or something like that. Or "input" and "letting it simmer." Or something like those things. What I'm purposeful about, mostly, is what goes in: a good, varied, but not overwhelming diet of excellent reading that exposes them to events and ideas that have shaped our culture and our understanding of the world. That's my primary aim for any age.

We exercise our minds and hands with math and copywork daily, and if we were pressed for time we would do those two things and nothing else, letting reading happen in free time. But in an ordinary day my 9- and 11-year-olds do about an hour to an hour and a half of assigned reading (see "diet," above). Then the rest of the day is free, free, free.

My 10th grader does more, and more structured work, but my end of it is to be in conversation with him about it, as if he were a serious scholar, which he is.

Angie, I like what you say about not being dragged down. I do believe in tackling things that you wouldn't necessarily choose, and persevering with things that aren't easy, but there is a fine line between that virtue-building endeavor and just being overburdened.

And my kids continually surprise me with the connections they make, the thoughts they have, the abilities they reveal themselves to possess, none of which are really my doing. I just fed them some good stuff and let it digest.

And I guess at the end of the day my definition of the "Bare MInimum" would be whatever I can give that will enlarge a child's world without impinging too much on his freedom to think about it.


eta: I think what I've really described is "vision," not "Bare Minimum." But I also think I'm with Martha, below, in believing that more than just core skills constitutes a bare minimum . . . though I've also btdt, and people have turned out okay. Still . . .

Anyway, her "minimum" list looks a lot like mine. We do have two short days scheduled into our week because of outside involvements; on those days we do

1. prayers (or Mass, or both)
2. math (generally Life of Fred with no accompanying drills or frills)
3. copywork or other writing
4. literature
5. religion

I'd dispense with religion as a formal subject in a real pinch and just live it, through Mass attendance, Confession, Adoration, and the life of the domestic church -- that's probably why I put Mass first on my list, and "religion" last, though I didn't really think that out before I wrote it.

I guess those are my sine qua non -- and literature by itself covers a lot of ground, in terms of subject matter -- although I would *only* think that that schedule was acceptable (for us) *if* on other days we were doing history, geography, German, and science, plus read-alouds and do-nothing/Masterly Inactivity time. Unless we were in total emergency mode (illness, new baby, move, some other domestic crisis), I would not be okay with going on like this day after day. It's not that I want to micromanage my kids' learning, but that I *want* them to have a full and varied diet, a good bit of which is, frankly, chosen by me. What their minds do with that is up to them, but I in my greater wisdom and authority (however non-obvious those things are to anyone, especially me, sometimes) set the menu.

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Posted: Aug 30 2013 at 4:54am | IP Logged Quote mariB

The bare minimum for us is definitely religion, math, and reading! We see the fruits of it now that our oldest is taking college courses. His english teacher gave the thumbs up on his writing. He got 100 percent in that course.

We do read alouds and talk about the books, too, since I love, love to read.

-Also included in the bare minimum are the arts and some kind of sport; drawing, music, and theater and badminton, golf, and long walks! The arts and sports are not pushed. They just naturally happen.

Thank you for this post, Leonie, from all those years ago. And thank you, Angie, for resurrecting it! When I am tired and when life gets crazy, I will remember that the bare minimum is not really the bare minimum but really quite rich.

marib-Mother to 22ds,21ds,18ds,15dd,11dd and wife to an amazing man for 23 years

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Posted: Aug 30 2013 at 12:53pm | IP Logged Quote Martha

My bare minimum has grown.

Math daily
Reading daily
Writing daily
Latin daily*
Foreign modern language daily*
Memory work daily
Physical activity, preferably outside, daily
Do nothing time daily

*If you can. If you can't, then you can't and I've btdt too. But if possible, I view it as a requirement.

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