But just like I have friends who went before me into labor and motherhood who gave advice and shared what worked for them, I am blessed to also have wonderful friends who I initially thought were crazy, but now look to for guidance as I make plans for my first homeschool year.
Each of my friends adheres to a different schooling method and has a different family situation, and by talking to them I've learned that there are a million different ways homeschool can look.
One friend takes her kids to a Classical Connections group each week and uses that as the spine for her teaching at home. One friend orders most of her curriculum for the year already planned out. One friend chooses her own curriculum and goes with the flow of the week, or the day, or the hour! One friend is at home three days a week and works two days. One friend's husband is home on Mondays and they plan family hikes and adventures out of the home together. One friend is part of a school where her kids can go one day a week to interact with classmates and learn from an adult other than mom. One friend enjoys reading aloud to her children for much of the day. One friend is teaching her children about the value of home and emphasizes family responsibilities along side of academic lessons. One friend is part of a private school which offers park days, spelling bees, artists fairs, and poetry recitals as opportunities for schooled-at-home families to come together.
All of my friends seem overwhelmed at times, and all my friends speak with joy and love when they share with me their homeschooling experiences! I have learned so much from them already, and I am so grateful for their openness and encouragement as our family undertakes this journey!
Based on talking with and observing what works for my friends, and doing some research online (this blog post at Ed Snapshots was super helpful for me to identify and define some of the phrases and names I've heard tossed around in the homeschool community), as I look forward to planning next year, I'd say we are leaning towards a Charlotte Mason educational style, as interpreted by Carole Joy Seid. For us, this means that we will lean heavily on literature and books to carry us through our day which I'm hoping will be a good fit for our already book-loving family. We are fortunate to live within walking (or usually biking!) distance to our amazing public library and visit weekly. Books are received as welcome gifts every Christmas, birthday, and sometimes in between just for fun, and bedtime stories are a highly anticipated nightly event at our house.
But before I can officially call myself a Charlotte Mason homeschool mom, I need to do some more reading and research on her methods, but based on the list linked to above, that is the "box" that we are checking for now. A friend shared with me a video from Carole Joy Seid who speaks so strongly about a literature-based education and set me on the path towards a Charlotte Mason style. Listening to her speak gives me confidence that we can be successful in this homeschool adventure based on the habits and values we already have in our family.