The World is Our School House
This is the first post in a series about homeschooling.
I will be the first to say I don't have all the answers! Ummm, then why am I writing this? This is to share my experiences and give you some resources to review on your own. Just as there is no one “right” way to parent, there is also no one “right” way to educate your kids. Every kid is different (even within a family!), every parent is different, even the same kids and family can produce different answers at different times, simply because of differences in situations (age, location, family dynamics, etc.). Just like most other things in life, you need to find what works for you and your family, and that usually involves a lot of balancing of different ideas to fit your family's needs.
Four years ago, if someone had asked me in a dinner conversation if I wanted to homeschool my kids, I would have laughed in their face as I squirted milk out of my nose. I had never even considered it - it was a given that my kids would attend public school.
Three years ago, I had a severe crisis of heart and mind when my daughter, then 4, reacted in a way I didn’t expect in the first few weeks of starting preschool. I won’t go into personal details, but I will say it made me decide to be proactive about my daughter’s education and what I thought was most important for her to learn instead of just doing what had always been done because that is the way you do it. (Remember, I ALSO said there is no "one right way" to parent or educate your children)
So at least for us at that point in time, after a lot of soul searching, intense conversation, research, and heart-felt prayer, we decided to homeschool for kindergarten. In my mind there was a possibility that this was a one year decision.
Fast-forward another year, my oldest daughter was turning 5 and going to start kindergarten. Like all first time homeschool moms, there is a large amount of uncertainty about being able to homeschool the “right” way, whether or not you are making the right decision, if you will be ‘ruining’ your children and their education, tons of time spent on the internet researching what to do, wondering how in the world you will be able to do this (especially if you have other kids to take care of), and having a COMPLETE PANIC about CURRICULUM. Yes, I did say, and meant, COMPLETE PANIC.
Somehow we made it through that first year, and in the process I discovered something amazing. I LOVE HOMESCHOOLING MY KIDS!!!!!!! Yeah, there are days that drive me nuts, and it is not all roses, but I discovered I had enjoyed being around my kids and loved them in a way I had not appreciated before.
Let me start off by saying HOMESCHOOLING IS A LIFESTYLE. Yes, we are super-flexible with our schedule, but it seems that even if on the surface you are only schooling 1 hour a day for a kindergartner, it creeps into your whole life. It affects what your schedule is for your whole day/week, how you teach your child from your surroundings day to day, and it can have a pretty big impact on your daily schedule (such as your house feeling very 'lived in', as we like to say).
For me personally, there are a lot of factors that make homeschooling such a great fit for our family. First off, my husband's 3-day work week makes for a very flexible schedule. We spend a lot of time together as a family and do a lot of travel to see extended family. Secondly, we can mold each academic experience to best assist each child, adapting to their different learning styles and according to their temperament and abilities, as well as being able to incorporate the moral instruction we feel inclined to teach our children. While I admit the first year I was a basket case worrying about curriculum and scheduling, etc., it all fell into place. Finally, one of the best parts about it is being with my kids! They are amazing little adults-in-training and I LOVE them! Don't get me wrong, they drive me NUTS sometimes, but they have such wonderful little hearts inside them, it is a treasure to be with them and learn to enjoy the journey together.
Since homeschooling, I have had several conversations with different people in the throes of life that have contemplated homeschool, wonder how effective it is (for various reasons), worry about socialization, want to know why I do it, wonder how I can stand to be with my kids ALL THE TIME, or just want to know “what in the world do you do all day”?
Today I will start with a list of some of the most common homeschool methods and a few links for you to check them out if you are interested in learning more about them. I also wanted to put a link for you to find out legally what is required in your state, as every state is different. (See HSLDA for state by state specifics).
Here is a brief description and link for some of the most common homeschooling philosophies.
**Montessori - letting children learn through their own senses and through watching examples and letting the child DO.
**Unschooling - child directed learning
**Better Late Than Early or here- children are not ready for academics until ages 8-12 and will catch up with their peers quickly.
**Delight Directed - focus scope & sequence of curriculum and schooling around the child's interests.
**Unit Study Philosophies - study a theme or period of time from all angles of language, history, geography, science, etc. See also Lapbooking, a creative unit study presentation.
**Classical Education / the Socratic method of the Trivium- using the liberal arts of logic, grammar, and rhetoric (to discover, to reason, and to apply) - teaching HOW to learn, not simply facts TO learn. See Charlotte Mason (below), Well-Trained Mind, Thomas Jefferson Education,
**Charlotte Mason Approach or here- learning from living books, making the student’s learning come alive.
**Literature Based Philosophies - based on Charlotte Mason's principal of using "living books" to teach most/all subjects, i.e. Beautiful Feet.
**Textbook Based Studies - systematic and comprehensive curriculum through textbooks.
**Computer Based Studies and virtual schooling - virtual classes online or computer based curriculum/games to teach the student. (For some fun online sites for younger children, check out Starfall, Funbrain, CoolMath, Apples4theTeacher.)
**Accelerated Education - children learning as much as possible as early as possible, with possible college concurrent enrollment.
**Public School at home i.e. Traditional school in a box (complete curriculum) - textbooks & workbooks purchased to duplicate a public school experience at home, coordinated with the scope and sequence of the public school system.
My next post on homeschooling will highlight our curriculum choices, some scheduling solutions, and answer a few of the questions I am most often asked or topics discussed about homeschool. I will also have some links for additional resources to check out if you want to know more about homeschooling your little ones.
Until next time, enjoy your time with your little ones, and make everyday a learning day!