Saturday, December 10, 2005

Susan Wise Bauer - her books & her "typical" days of homeschooling

In looking around at various blogs I've seen many people write about a typical day of homeschooling. My wife wrote about one such unschooling day we had recently. These kinds of postings help each us recognize that sometimes we have rough days, and that is OK. It is also interesting to see how other people implement various approaches to homeschooling.

Often when I read about a day of homeschooling I am reminded of Susan Wise Bauer's postings about some of her days of homeschooling. If you haven't read these, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2004, stop now and go read them. They are wonderful. For awhile my daughters would beg me to read the postings to them once or twice a week.

My wife and I came across The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother Jessie Wise just before we started to homeschool seven years ago. The book was very helpful in laying down a framework for providing an education deep in the classics. This gave us a sense of one way to do homeschooling. It is a bit funny, the first edition pushes a lot of structure, pretty much a school at home approach. But when you read Susan's homeschooling days you realize that her days were not always structured. (My daughters sometimes remind us that chocolate is an important part of homeschooling.) We heard Susan speak at a homeschooling conference in Sacramento a couple years ago. She made it a point to say that the publisher demanded that the book have a very structured approach. Susan said that the second edition encouraged a more flexible approach.

A big part of our approach to homeschooling is to use the classical approach from "The Well Trained Mind." One of the main themes in the book is to cover the history of the world three times. The first time through in grades 1 to 4 the child gets a basic overview of what has happened over the last couple thousand years. Then the child goes through again during grades 5 to 8, and one last time in grades 9 to 12. Each time the child gets a deeper understanding of what is happening, and why it is happening. My wife and I got each of the four volumes of "The Story of the World" by Susan Wise Bauer which do a pass through the history of the world. (one, two, three, four) The books are very informative and provide a good overview.

We also got the CDs for each of the four books. Our daughters like listen to the CDs on the way to appointments, when we travel, and sometimes when they fall asleep at night. On one trip we listened to the whole second volume. They enjoy the CDs and like to listen to them, over and over again. They have listened for hundreds of hours. Our best guess is about five hundred hours worth. For their age they have a great understanding of history.


Melissa O. Markham said...

I have recently purchased The Well Trained Mind to read. I am in my 5th year of homeschooling and every year we do things a little differently. Thanks for alerting me to the fact that the later edition is a bit more relaxed.

Anne said...

I read The Well-Trained Mind shortly after I started homeschooling, and as soon as I did, I knew it was the way I wanted to go. We're on the last volume of Story of the World now, and it has been a wonderful resource. We've used many of her curriculum recommendations through the years, and I've been very pleased with just about every one of them.

Anonymous said...

We also read The Well Trained Mind (second edition)when we started homeschooling. As you say, it was a great introduction, but in practice, it's been too structured for us and we've ended up integrating it with other approaches. We do use their approach to teaching history, though. We've also been using the first two volumes of The Story of the World, but my wife finds it irritating that WTM stresses a chronological approach to history, but Story of the World is not completely chronological. Another good book on the classical method is Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.

Janine Cate said...

A few years ago, we had the privilege of hearing Susan Wise Bauer speak. She said, "I give you permission to rip the schedules out of the book. The publisher insisted I put them in." She went on to say that her day didn't look anything like that. The publisher thought here real life was too chaotic. Check out the links to her typical day (links are in the original blog post).

Henry Cate said...

One of the best things about "The Well Trained Mind" was the list of resources at the end of every chapter. I still smile when I think of Elvis Presley’s great hits in Latin" in the Latin chapter.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from Memoria Press (! It is wonderful to see your interest in classical education and your reliance upon Bauer's great work. We would love to contact you via email if possible. You can contact us by replying to via email.
John Randolph

Unknown said...

I'm a little, ok, A LOT overwhelmed. I'm late to the party. We started home schooling our son in 7th grade after he was in Montessori from 1st-6th. I got Well-Trained-Mind and I'm modeling our days after the framework in the book. I'm getting the feeling that all the overlap is supposed to create a sense of cohesion, but I must be doing something wrong since right now it just seems like the lists my son is making and the binders with all the tabs are just spreading the material out into many different places. Perhaps I could use some suggestions as to how best to bring it all together for him. I need to find a workable writing program too.

Henry Cate said...

Erin, how responsible is your son? Can you have him read "The Well-Trained Mind."

One thing to remember is you don't have to teach a classroom of 30 students. You don't have to make lesson plans, create tests, or fill out forms.

The average student gets about two hours of real instruction each day.

You may find The Golden Quote comforting.

If you have more questions, just ask, I'll try to respond faster.

Good luck.