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One of the reasons we chose a Charlotte Mason education is the emphasis on a broad education and living books. Children are exposed to a wide variety of subjects, books, and ideas. This provides them with a solid foundation of knowledge as they grow. They also possess general knowledge of the world before they chose a field of focused study (aka–college major).
In addition to a solid foundation, children also benefit from drawing connections between the various subjects he or she is studying. As we have progressed through our year, I have enjoyed seeing our son make these connections. Sometimes he will connect ideas we read in our books with books we used to read him years ago. Other times he connects what we read to his own life.
For most children, the early years are spent making connections. Cause and effect. Out of sight but not gone. As their verbal skills develop, they began to make connections between words that sound the same but are spelled differently. Pair and pear. To, two, and too. They also begin to make connections between ideas.
As we have set out on our homeschool journey, it has been exciting to see him connecting the proverbial dots. At times, I’m the one who first points out a connection to our son. But he has also begun to make many interesting connections on his own.
As the frequency of making connections has increased, I’ve noticed some underlying causes. I thought it would be interesting to share these with you and hear from you the types of connections your children are making as you continue to homeschool.
Honestly, I think reading may be the biggest foundational element for a broad education. We started reading to our son when he was a baby. He had learned all his letters by the time he was 2 ½. He was reading at age 4 and spends time reading every day.
Obviously, reading has been significant for him. It has allowed him to enter into the world without having to depend on others to interpret everything for him. Honestly, at times I find it unnerving to have a 1st grader who can read at a 5th-grade level. It means we have to be sensitive to the materials we leave around the house, especially if we’re trying to plan some kind of surprise for the kids.
As our son learned to read, we also taught him how to write his letters. This enabled him to express himself. As he practiced drawing, writing words, and expressing ideas on paper, his handwriting improved. Now that he is able to read well, his writing continues to improve. Not only is his penmanship neat, but he is imitating the writing and punctuation he reads.
He regularly presents us with stories he has written. Often these stories have elements of the stories he reads. His love for Mickey Mouse and all things candy are also regular themes. I also discover words from our Spanish lessons making occasional appearances in his stories. Even though he doesn’t recreate characters from the tall tales we read in literature, he often has larger than life characters in his stories.
I shared earlier that we are following the Alveary curriculum, and one of the afternoon/evening activities is math games. Since we don’t really do screen time as a family, one of the ways we unwind is playing games. Lest you think we’re totally boring, I should clarify that we don’t play “math games” proper, we play games that require math. You need basic math skills to play games like Farkle, Rummikub, and Sushi Go.
There’s another strategy game that he loves called Lost Cities. At the end of the game, you have to total the points from each expedition. This requires addition and subtraction. It has been impressive to see how good he has gotten at addition from playing this game. His ability to add from playing all these games has helped him make connections with his math lessons.
Our history curriculum this year focuses on the Native Americans. As we read about their way of life, we have been able to create connections with the world around us. When we read about the clothes they wore, we can compare and contrast with our own clothes. We can think about the different climates and how that changed the way they dressed and the food they ate.
Even our music study has had a strong historical component. When we learned the Battle Hymn of the Republic, we learned about the historical context for the song–the Civil War. As we have talked about other music and artists, we have been able to use the Civil War as a reference point.
I hope that the books we read and the broad ideas we discuss will always spark connections in my son’s mind. Education is not one-dimensional, but it is full of connections and relationships. As we pursue a wide course of study, full of living books, my desire is that we model a love of learning for our son and help him cultivate it in his own life.
Are you seeing connections between subjects and life in your homeschool? I would love to hear about it. Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see how we’re implementing a broad education.