I've noticed a direct correlation between my time spent preparing and enthusiasm on the part of my children. I purchased some new art materials (pastels and craypas) just trying to broaden their art experiences. All I had to do was display my picture (far right) and within a day, Tilly (left) and Kalina (above) had picked up the supplies, and drawn their own versions of the planet Saturn.
One of the things I love most about homeschooling is how our learning flows so naturally, seeping into every aspect of our lives together. Because we are learning together (meaning, I am teaching and overseeing the work- and most subjects are taught in a group) it is so much easier to see and make those connections.
Let me give you an example. We study history through The Story of the World (which we all love) and we are currently in the 1600's. Despite that, we took a brief hiatus, to study the Great Depression (brought on by our love of the Kit books). In reading books about the time period, I learned that The War of the Worlds was written and broadcast during the Depression. We requested if from the library and boy did my children ever get a kick out of it. Especially since it caused so much panic in New York. It is so cheesey, their Jonathan Park stories are scarier.
My children love music, almost as much as I do. A recent favorite around here has been the Sound of Music. It dawned on me one day, that The Sound of Music must have taken place roughly during the same time period, since the family flees Hitler's army (in 1937, by the way). So we watched the movie. Keziah had no idea there was a movie/musical attached to the music she loved, and seeing it only increased her love of the songs. Watching the movie led to many discussions about the Trapp family, including, is The Sound of Music a book?
No, but their story is written (by Maria) in The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. So, we requested it from the library and Adalia, Judah, Tilly and Enoch have all read (or are currently reading) it.
The book makes reference to the fear the Trapp family felt as they heard about the "attack" (War of the Worlds) on New York city, where their two young daughters were attending school. My children howled with laughter at this one. And the family sang at (and eventually bought and renovated) a CCC camp, something which completely went over my head the first time I read the book since I had no idea what a CCC camp was (the Kit books make several references to her brother Charlie working in a CCC camp).
Talking about WWII and the Depression, prodded me to dig out a copy of the memoirs my grandma wrote before she died (oh, how I wish she was here to share in our study of the Depression). I was able to read aloud to my children about their great grandparents' lives during the Depression and WWII. Which led to the inevitable, "Grandma was alive during the Depression?" Since anything taking place before the new millenium is ancient history to my children.
It's these connections that I love and value so much. The Kit books-War of the Worlds-The Sound of Music-Great Grandma's Memoirs. They are all interconnected. They weave in and out of one another. They make sense and are not random pieces of information. They all fit together in a beautiful tapestry.
Now, they could be learning about these very topics if they went to school. The difference is, they would all be learning about them at different times, which would hinder the great conversations we've been having as a family. And I wouldn't know about them, so I couldn't encourage and point out connections here at home.
I distinctly remember my first year of college, finding that what we were studying in my anthropology class had direct relevance on my Latin class, which lined up with my beloved Linguistics classes, which connected with the music I love so much, which is intermingled with my math (that I loathe). They are all connected. It was an epiphany. I was so used to separate, boxed in, discombobulated subjects (haven't you always wanted to use that word in a sentence?) it never occurred to me just how much these topics had in common.
Now, as teacher and student, these connections are a natural part of our lives.