It is true I am a bit swamped right now but I can think of a few ideas on this topic right off the top of my head. The question is whether or not I can effectively communicate those ideas in my current state.
So off the top of my head:
1. Read to your children (begin in utero).
2. Read around your children. Let them see you reading.
3. Learn to recognize the best books.
4. Talk to your children....when you rise up...
5. Listen to your children. Might be the hardest thing on the list.
6. Continue to educate yourself..learn Latin, grammar etc. If you do this then you can teach your children as you walk along the way. I cannot begin to tell you how much more they will learn this way. For instance, you can teach grammar by using workbooks and you will notice that for many children, in spite of years of grammar exercises, they retain very little grammar, or you can get an old grammar textbook like The Mother Tongue I or II and work through it orally over many years. If the whole family does this together, the whole family can discuss grammar when it arises in real life.
7. Find out what is really important to you and then tune out all the voices that try to get you to do something else. You will never successfully homeschool if you don't learn how to tune out the masses and masses of good (not great) ideas. This is probably what contributed to some of my own successes. I would try to add what others were doing to what I was already happy with, particularly Morning Time, and then I would get stressed and have to drop something off. The decision always ended up being the same: drop MT or drop something else. I always chose to drop the something else and I have never regretted it, but I am a very stubborn person.
8.Don't be too impressed when your children perform parlor tricks. Cute, yes, but not what free men are looking for. We are educating for the long haul and the fruit cannot be rushed.
9. Resist the temptation to think that more is better. Less is almost always better in education. What you need is more time to read and think. Do whatever it takes to make more time. Think about that as you buy Christmas gifts.
10. Memorize Scripture.
11. Sing songs, hymns and spiritual songs.
12. Learn the names of the trees, flowers, birds etc
13. Memorize and read poetry daily. This should be near the top of the list since most people would either leave it out or underestimate its importance. You cannot read too much poetry. From David and Homer until today the best men know poetry. The freeborn man is a warrior poet.
14. Use Ambleside Online. You can't go wrong with years 1 and 2. But remember Charlotte Mason left the afternoons free for handicrafts, nature study and play. Ambleside is not that hard and should not take that long in a day. You can read everything you need to read in a 1 to 2 hour period. If it takes longer than that or if you are tempted to add workbooks, you don't get it. Go back and read Susan Schaeffer MacCaulay or Charlotte's Original Series.
The hardest thing about the liberal arts or a Charlotte Mason education is: not adding the superfluous in order to make your mom feel better.
15. I would say that a child should be reading at least 2 hours a day, at any age, but 3 is better.
16. Ask your children questions and let them think. Don't rush to give answers. It is ok to have an environment where children can disagree with each other and with you. The more discussion going on in your family the better off the children will be. That means you can't be too squeamish about disagreement.
17. Be a strong authority in your home but wear your authority lightly. I know this is a big one because for some reason today's young parents are even more squeamish about discipline than the last generation. It is more damaging to your child's psyche to be left to himself than to be disciplined. Discipline is an art and therefore it cannot be learned as if it were scheme or system. The more true authority you have over your children the less you will have to use it. But that comes later. Toddlers need a strong arm. If your children are driving you crazy, stop everything for however long it takes and gain the upper hand. You should be enjoying your children. If you are not, it is your fault. This is not an easy row to hoe but free men must learn self-government and parents are the bosses.
18. Go outside a lot.
19. Write every day. Keep it simple. 8 year old writes 5 complete sentences on the same subject daily. Everyone else writes a decent narration on something they are reading. If they are reading a lot this will not be a problem. Sometime or other add in a writing program but no matter what: write every day.
That's all for now.
"St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it.11 Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.12 When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in 'ordinate affections' or 'just sentiments' will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science.13 Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful."
CS Lewis The Abolition of Man
CS Lewis The Abolition of Man