Medieval Homeschooling with a Twist

December 5, 2022 at 3:10 pm (Education, Events) (, , , , , , , )

One thing about homeschooling I love is the ability to really dive into subjects and LIVE there. We follow a classical model, with a Charlotte Mason bent, heavily influenced by unit studies, and are extremely eclectic. If you have watched The Five Flavors of Homeschooling video you might understand why this is a little bit funny. We just love to learn and we do it in ALL the ways. Most people pick one or mesh two. We enjoy taking it day by day and the only guarantee is that we are on the classical track. Which means this year we’ve been frolicking through the late ancient era and into the middle ages. Also, Kiddo loves cake decorating and party planning. So for her last “kid” party, she hosted a medieval feast/ ren faire in the backyard.

My mother-in-law and husband are both amazing at decorating cakes (and pretty much every crafty venture they try), so when Kiddo had a BIG idea… well, it turned out like this:

Yes, she asked for a giant pig cake. To make the table look more authentic. The cake took a lot of planning and several days of my mother-in-law teaching Kiddo step by step how to make it and Kiddo functioning as an official cake decorating assistant. The fondant was homemade because it’s my in-law’s recipe and actually edible versus a lot of the weird tasting too sugary stuff you get at the store. I love that I can’t share all the steps with you, because it means Kiddo did so much of the work. She asked for party-planning gifts this year… so helping Kiddo make the cake for the event with her grandmother was the big gift. Our goal is to stop collecting stuff and make a point to collect memories and skills, and build relationships.

Here is the pig next to our (not historically accurate) feast spread. My husband smoked forty pounds of chicken, I roasted about twenty-five pounds of potatoes and sauteed onions, carrots, and radishes. Kiddo baked eight loaves of bread. She served all her friends bread she made herself in addition to making the cake. Remember, she’s given a budget every year and told she may have presents or party or a mix of both but can’t go over budget. She voted for putting in the work on all the bells and whistles of a party. This is my favorite thing about how homeschooling becomes a whole lifestyle. This is her “Home Economics” credit, so much more extensive than a Foods for Today class where we identified a spatula on a worksheet. Sometime in the next semester or so, she will make a cake (of similar caliber) from start to finish on her own and earn a “Cake Decorating” credit. In addition to learning Latin, French, and Spanish, staying well above average in math and science, and a full host of other things, she has time to do all these fun electives that would have been a pipe dream for me when I was in public school. We are having so much fun.

My best friend and her partner then pitched in to put the entire event over the top. Their gift was a jousting tournament.

Let me tell you, this was brilliant. They took tomato plant spikes and attached silver-painted styrofoam cups to them. The cups looked a bit like castles, but their function was to hold the rings you see in the picture. Two blow-up horses and a pool noodle for each made a jousting tournament. The kids had to race to see who could collect the rings in their lane with the pool noodle the fastest. The winner of the tournament went home wearing a crown.

The day was amazing. My twelve-year-old managed to plan something that children of all ages and adults enjoyed. She used her resources, asked for help when she needed help, and tapped into the various expertise of those around her for the best possible outcome. We learned more about the middle ages as we determined that our feast was not actually accurate to the times, but the best fit for the budget we had. Homeschooling looks different for everyone, we bend the curriculum (and create our own) to meld to the personality and mind we are teaching. For my extroverted entertainer, this is how the middle ages came alive for her. Of course, she can dialogue all about Clovis, Augustine of Kent, the evacuation of Rome from Britain, Vikings, and more, but she can also budget, plan an event, manage requests, bake bread, alter recipes, and decorate cakes.

I have the opportunity, every day, to be so impressed by her.

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