February 19, 2011

How We Homeschool

If you haven't already, venture over here to read our first post on this subject.

When I began looking into homeschooling I decided I would do it to the best of my ability.  I desire for my kids to be better educated than if they went to school.  I want to keep my right to educate my children at home by being diligent!  I know that I don't have the time to come up with my own curriculum at this point so I use the resources out there to guide us.

In this post you will see that I am not the homeschooling mom who just lets my kids go their own way in discovering all there is to know about everything.  No way.  If that makes you feel terrible for my children, well, then proceed at your own risk.

In the previous post I mentioned the growing amount of children and parents feeling very dissatisfied with the school system.  Don't get me wrong: there are a lot of awesome teachers out there (some we call family).  And a lot of schools do about as much as they can with classes of twenty to thirty.  However, the options for how to school one's children at home are nearly endless.

There are many different philosophies of education.  To read about some of the different styles go here.  We tend to pull from two or three of them.  We use a lot of Charlotte Mason, some worksheet based learning, a bit of classical, and the Thomas Jefferson philosophy intrigues me (although I don't quite fully understand it, yet).  I don't throw myself behind one style completely which is probably why I currently use at least six different curriculum companies.  But that works for us.  We found what fit the best from who we liked and went with it.

Our approach has and is being adjusted by what we see our children flourishing with.  I don't want them to hate school.  Really, what good is that?  I want them to desire to learn more. 

So, I watch what inspires them.  Do they just dig worksheets?  Do hands-on projects bring a topic home for them?  Are manipulatives helping or confusing them?  Do they desire to listen to books being read to them?  What do they remember a week later? What do they try to hurry through and what do they ask for more of?

Z is our child involved in the most schooling right now so he influences a lot of our current choices.  Z absolutely enjoys reading living books about history.  He can't get enough of them.  We can read three days worth of history reading assignments and he still asks for more!  Z remembers all sorts of general history concepts thanks to stories we have read.  I wish I had learned history this way!  It teaches the story of history without dragging one through a ton of rote memorization and facts that really are not helpful in the long run. 

Z does not enjoy projects. Really, T doesn't either.  They will occasionally enjoy making a simple creation.  But on the whole, this is not the preferred route for either of them.  Both Z and T will get frustrated if it does not end up just right and then want to throw it away.  Not necessarily your positive educational experience.  And honestly, I am not complaining.  Have you ever tried doing a project with three under four running around?  Science, obviously, requires some hands on and that is where Ryan comes in and the kids do really enjoy their science projects.  So, maybe the problem with our kids and projects is actually the facilitator....hmmmm. 

Workbooks and traditional textbooks have gotten a bad name in homeschooling recently.  And with good reason.  Most parents who homeschool know about the millions of worksheets handed out in traditional schools and do not remember them fondly nor as particularly beneficial.  'Traditional school' style learning is easier on the homeschooling parent and can get the very basic necessities of education taken care of.  It just isn't considered very fun for most kids and really, they don't often learn to learn.  So, we use workbooks for those subjects in which it is inescapable: handwriting, some language arts, and math.  There are math programs which are less book based and more manipulative heavy, but that didn't work for our family (at this point). We do have a science text, but it is not very similar to one you would find in school.  It is written in a much more pleasant style and heavier on activities.

Literature is a huge part of our homeschooling.  Our kids have developed a love for being read to.  We spend at least an hour a day (sometimes, two) reading out loud from picture books for the younger ones, and great fiction and non-fiction for everybody.  Reading aloud has been shown to have infinite benefits to children of all ages.  And it is good for discussion and quality time together.  Literature has helped us in the subjects of cultures, geography, vocabulary, character, history, science, grammar, and many other important elements of education.

I find it a huge blessing to be able to customize my children's education.  Even as I write this I am analyzing what I like about what we are doing and what I don't. I want to add more literature based learning into next year and am trying to work on finding a way for that to happen.  However, I want to maintain the solid foundation, in language arts, which our Abeka workbooks have provided.  But for the remainder of this year, this is how we are learning.

1 comment:

The Musacchio Project said...

Your doing a great job Heather!!!!!