Our new school year started last week. We started a couple of weeks before Labor Day so that we could ease into our schedule and still have some time for sleeping in occasionally (my son) and finishing up some summer projects (me).
Last year was the first year of homeschooling just one child, and I really enjoyed it. We read Virgil’s Aeneid and Dante’s Divine Comedy together, we listened to Rufus Fears tell wonderful stories about Famous Romans and audio books of classics and fun books, we read history books, science books, and books just for fun, we wrestled with math and delved into astronomy and biology, we sweated over Latin, and I taught my son and some of his friends about Material Logic and Composition.
It was a great year so I’ve been looking forward to this year being more of the same. I will be teaching my son and his friends Rhetoric this year, which is still a challenge for me and for my students. For me, because I am essentially self-taught. That leads to a tendency to second guess myself too much and, at times, wonder if I am truly giving my students what they need to succeed in their writing. It is a stretch, but every time I teach Rhetoric (this is my third time), I learn so much more about writing, communication, understanding my audience, figures of speech, etc. that I cannot be sorry that I am, once again, stepping outside of my comfort zone to challenge my students with Aristotle.
My son and I will be studying early modern history and literature. This term we are reading Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, which is an old favorite, and Paradise Lost by John Milton, which I have never read before and am eagerly anticipating. I have borrowed Leland Ryken’s guide and C.S. Lewis’s Preface to Paradise Lost in an attempt to understand this great English epic. It only seemed appropriate to read Paradise Lost after reading Homer’s, Virgil’s, and Dante’s epics over the last two years. For fun, we are reading The Lord of the Rings aloud, which fits right in with all of the other epics we have read and are reading.
There is something special about reading these great epics with my children. Over the years, they have allowed our family to create a shared vocabulary and history together. We often refer to children’s books, story books, and great books in our conversations with each other. Homeschooling has given our family a special bonding of common experience. As hard as it has been at times and as much time, energy, sweat, tears, and frustrations it requires, I will never be sorry for going on this journey with my children. These last two years with my youngest will fly by so fast, and I fully intend to cherish each day before I launch my last “chick” into the world.