Packsaddle Academy: The Basics
For several years, we affectionately called our little place of learning “Harmony Homeschool.” With a daughter in middle school, I thought we might need a more academic sounding moniker. Many years before we purchased our home in the mountains, it was owned by a couple who ran a Native American jewelry business out of their basement. They called this unique establishment “The Packsaddle Gallery,” and our south-facing exterior wall still bears the wooden letters announcing “PACKSADDLE.” We liked the title, and so we kept it. When local residents ask which house we live in, I can say, “The Packsaddle house,” and they know exactly which brown, otherwise nondescript structure I mean. Accordingly, the school we run in that same large basement is now Packsaddle Academy.
One thing I have learned about homeschooling is that every family operates differently. Every set of parents has their own educational philosophies, and their own ideas about how those philosophies translate to a daily routine, a curriculum set, and a vision. In our county, there are a few homeschoolers – perhaps 15 families or so.
That said, I do think it is helpful to define our homeschooling style and structure. Ideologically, I have far more in common with parents who send their children to classical Christian schools than I do with many of the homeschoolers in our area. And if you are looking for ideas on how to creatively unschool your kiddos, you won’t find that here.
Reading books on education has become a hobby for me. I try to alternate a lighter “mom” book with a weightier theoretical one, and this summer, I dove into Doug Wilson’s “The Case for Classical Christian Education.” It was enjoyable, though the book is written for Christian school educators, and there is only one chapter specifically relating to homeschooling. I admit I read that one first. Dr. Wilson purports that homeschooling is a good option, but, essentially, should only be attempted if a classical Christian school is not available or attainable. I don’t know that I agree completely. I think homeschooling can be heart-choice, a God-led decision. But, it definitely made me stop and think about the places where I fall short as an untrained mama with multiple grades in one room (as opposed to a classically trained teacher in a small classroom of one grade level). Then I had to ponder, what can I give my kiddos that they couldn’t get in a regular classroom?
My personal philosophy of education is Charlotte Mason flavored Classical. Is that a title? Probably not. But it is my aim, nonetheless. To combine the ideals of Classical Education: virtue, humility, and wisdom taught through the synthetic study of the seven liberal arts, with the gentleness of Charlotte Mason’s living books, narration, nature study, and habit formation.
Our homeschool days begin with what many Charlotte Mason mamas call “Morning Time.” We light a candle, brew a pot of tea, and gather at the table. We recite, read, draw, sing and pray. This an hour and a half of gently-administered truth, goodness, and beauty, and I love it.
Because I like to have a semblance of structure, and I like my girls to spend much time outdoors, we have a short recess after our morning liturgy. When they return (to the downstairs school room this time) we have 45 minutes of math. Hope, my kindergartner, does less. She has a frequently interrupted reading lesson while the others labor over their math problems.
After math is a triad of table work: Latin, spelling, and copywork or handwriting. We break for lunch, and then the older kids have “book basket” time while I settle little ones for rest. I will write a post on how we use book baskets on another day. J At around 2:00, we finish with science and Language Arts.
I want our homeschool to be a bit of a dichotomy. I want to have gentle structure, joyful rigor, light-hearted diligence, and serious fun. I want to read delightful books, savor many cups of milky tea, and learn to do math with careful exactitude.
I hope to write many blog posts about each of the elements that we include in our school days. It is messy, noisy, and sometimes fraught with conflict and emotion. Tea gets spilled, crayons get broken, math lessons are failed, and tears flow. But these are happy, rambunctious, miraculous days.
Stop in sometime. Enter our chaos and sit at our cluttered table. Drink a cup of tea with me and talk education. I would love it.