“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-7
“Educating the WholeHearted Child” puts it so well: “At the very heart of the history of Israel is God’s design that parents must diligently teach their children the things of God, not just on the Sabbath but at all times, in all places and in all ways. Parents instructing their children within the context of a close family living within the broader context of the whole community of faith was and still is a nonnegotiable”. (p96)
As we’ve contemplated this responsibility in terms of our homeschooling, we’ve come to realise just how much the way we homeschool must include the ‘whole’ person, and not just the all-important ‘3 R’s’ and various academics.
Most of us already know this, right? But I find for myself that, in actuality, I can drift from the path of ‘wholehearted learning’ unless I make it a purposeful goal to have a home-centred homeschool and not a home version of public school. Of course we all want to get those academic essentials down pat, plus ensuring there’s enough time for socialising, attending groups and activities outside the home setting, and so forth. But I don’t want to miss the eternal perspective on raising our children, and in shaping their hearts, with family and home at the centre of all our learning, and truly being intentional on a daily basis with this.
WholeHearted Learning – The Educational Model
“The WholeHearted Learning Model is a discipleship-based, home-centred, whole-book approach to Christian home education that integrates real books, real life, and real relationships in a life-giving expression of God’s biblical design for the family. “ (p115)
The Clarksons have created a superb and detailed description of five focused study areas, which have helped with how we build our plan, and prioritise our learning goals. It’s very comprehensive and uses the model of a house, breaking down how each part is built. I’ve read through this section many times as I’ve considered our learning goals, and how best our family can tailor each of our children’s education accordingly.
Our Learning Environment
We aim to create an environment in our home where our children love to learn, with language, living books (not on digital devices), reading aloud, telling stories, enjoying beautiful art and creative expression, and listening to inspiring music (including worship), just to name a few.
If we had a room to set aside for learning then we would. But we have limited space in our current home so instead have created spaces throughout that promote learning and also communicate visually what we value. We want our children to know that we value their learning journey. So at present, we don’t have an immaculate living room, with adult trinkets on clear and polished surfaces (with ‘invisible’ signs saying do not touch!). We have a large world map on a main wall. We have globe on the piano. We have a spelling board out on display. And let’s not forget those books. It’s as tidy as I can keep it, but it’s ‘lived-in’ and speaks to our children that this is what is valued in our home.
We have plenty of living books in every room of the house, including a custom-designed bunk bed with shelves full of fantastic books. We have our children’s artwork displayed on pinboards in the main living area (also our schooling space), in their bedrooms, displayed in the art area, and the best ones eventually archived in folders.
The Clarkson’s have given me some more ideas for this year, which we will set up in due course, including a geography corner, a nature study corner and an audio corner (there are a full page of ‘Discovery Corner’ ideas on p127).
Developing Hearts, Minds and Souls
There are many ways we implement much of the ‘WholeHearted Learning’ model, but here’s just a few.
Building a library of living books is an absolute top priority for us. We have books to read aloud together, early readers and chapter books, Classics, reference books, bibles and bible storybooks (each of the children have their own), and some books that the children aren’t ready for but starting to collect them has created an appetite and anticipation for when they’ll get to enjoy them.
It’s our belief that if we expose our children to great writers, great thinkers, and great voices, via real and ‘whole’ books, it will enrich their lives.
With our young children, much of the learning they do is about hands-on experience, creative expression, satisfying their curiosity, finding opportunities to explore and discover (both in and out of our home, and using materials in a way that stirs that love of learning. Nature walks are especially fun for us, as we live in such a beautiful area close to the beach and different bush walks.
We love the ‘fine arts’ focus of a Charlotte Mason homeschool, and we have woven this into our learning times from when the children were young. When they are young, it’s as simple as them telling back to me what they like in a painting, or what they enjoyed about a poem or story. As they get older, the discussion times grow and provide great opportunities for observation, narration and learning.
One important area we are focusing on this year is to encourage the formation of good habits and cultivate loving relationships with their siblings. Each of our children will be spending a certain amount of time with another sibling daily with a set activity. I’m hoping this will go well!
There is an excellent practical section on personalities and learning styles in Clay and Sally’s book that will assist in determining where your child sits. I’m so looking forward to using this section with each of my children, so I can best understand them and adapt my teaching methods for their God-given uniqueness.
So that’s a little glimpse into how we are building the essential area of ‘learning’ in our wholehearted homeschool.
I hope you’re enjoying this series so far. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.
- Purchase “Educating the WholeHearted Child” from Amazon
- Purchase “Educating the WholeHearted Child” from Book Depository
- Visit WholeHeart Ministries (the website of Clay and Sally Clarkson)
NB. These essentials are not laid out in this manner in Clay and Sally’s most excellent book, ‘Educating the WholeHearted Child’ nor are they a summary of the books content. But rather this is what I’ve understood from reading their approach, and have used their words of wisdom and insight to develop our family’s own ‘wholehearted’ approach to our homeschooling.
You might also be interested in the other posts in this series:
- Day 1: The Essentials Of Our ‘WholeHearted’ Homeschool
- Day 2: Our ‘WholeHearted’ Homeschool: Home
- Day 3: Our ‘WholeHearted’ Homeschool: Learning
- Day 4: Our ‘WholeHearted’ Homeschool: Methods
- Day 5: Our ‘WholeHearted’ Homeschool: Living