For families on a budget, the idea of a low cost/no cost education is very attractive. But one of the rules of frugality is that while one might not be spending money, one is usually investing with time, energy, and elbow grease instead. You’ve purchased curriculum, school is getting off to a decent start, and you may not be ready to jump right in with something ‘new’- but how about sticking in your big toe, and testing the water?
The previous post about Library Schooling gave a recommendation (Core Knowledge Sequence) as a blueprint for your homeschool. The outline is thorough, age appropriate for the average child, increasing in detail and complexity each year. However, one of the major errors of traditional schooling is compartmentalization. Science only occasionally touches history. Math and literature never meet. Our Library Schooling method specifically seeks to tear down these artificial barriers and use the connectivity of all the different disciplines to spark curiosity and bring cohesiveness to our children’s educational experience.
So let’s explore the adaptability of Library Schooling to a couple of home education methods to show that you can add some energy to the program or formula with which your family is currently utilizing and is most comfortable.
Some homeschooling methods lend themselves to Library Schooling- Charlotte Mason immediately comes to mind. If you are already engaged in a homeschooling method that employs ‘real books’ more often than textbooks, you probably recognize some aspects of what I am describing. You visit the library and discount bookstores frequently, you seldom miss an opportunity to take advantage of your child’s curiosity, and you’ve gotten over that anxious feeling you used to have when you put the books down to crawl around on the back porch looking at bugs and leaves under a magnifying glass.
For those who value the formality and structure of traditional schooling, and wonder how one would go about customizing Library Schooling to fit in to your day, browse the library for real books that cover some aspect of what is being studied to inspire your kids to learn and give them real life references to the information being examined.
There is something serendipitous about browsing one’s library and choosing books that is exciting, inspiring, and even a bit mysterious, especially to bibliophiles. Some authors are able to blend mountains of factual information with fascinating stories to capture our interest and imagination. Wouldn’t it be intriguing to see the interconnectedness of such subjects as history, science, and sociology? Step away for a moment from the educational books in the kids’ section of the library, and grab The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum off the shelf. Read it together (so you can do some age-appropriate editing), and discuss discoveries in and applications of chemistry, biology, criminology, and technology during the Roaring Twenties (don’t tell me that your kids won’t get a kick out of telling grandma and all their friends that they read The Poisoner’s Handbook in school that week). Or explore music and its effects on the brain, from Alzheimer’s sufferers to synesthesia and savants, in Musicophilia:Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks.
One of our favorite book series is the Mrs. Pollifax mystery series by Dorothy Gilman. Mrs. Emily Pollifax is a very resourceful woman “of a certain age” who ‘accidentally’ joins the CIA. When she isn’t taking karate lessons or caring for her geraniums, she is on an adventure in a different country in every novel, with lots of description and historical details.
You may be committed to a particular method or curriculum or program, but let me encourage you to look for supplemental material that is a bit unpredictable. It doesn’t have to be published by Scholastic or shelved in the children’s section. It can be strange, quirky, or unconventional. And children can learn to enjoy gathering information from a variety of sources and making connections that can inspire them to further study.