Kevin is a monkey. He always climbs on us, always, and laughs the whole time. Just had to record that:)
So, I’ve never really blogged too much about our homeschooling journey yet, simply because it’s the first year and I at times I’ve felt like I have no clue how to do this. Yet, as the year comes to a close, I do have things I want to share now, and I will quit being a wuss and not writing about it. Everyone starts somewhere, and I know there are other homeschooling moms out there who went through their first year figuring out their family’s path, too.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
First off, the pace of homeschooling is vastly different than the pace of the public school system. It is a much slower, somewhat relaxed pace of learning. Trying to replicate public school at home is usually a disaster, and leads to frustration. It’s just different. Homeschooling is so flexible for each family, which makes it great to customize it to what works for your family. There are so many methods of learning, such as ; Thomas Jefferson Education or Leadership education (TJED), Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Unit Studies, Eclectic, and more. I feel that we do a combination of Leadership Education and Charlotte Mason, with a little bit of Unschooling (Interest led learning) here and there.
So in TJED, the kids now are in Core phase, which is ages 0-8 years. Core phase is basically lots of learning through playing. Letting the kids have that special time of being that young, and learning right and wrong, good and bad, work ethics, etc. There is not so much a push on academics at this age level. Now, that is where one can struggle with homeschooling. I’m so used to the public school system, as many of us are, thinking ‘Ethan should be writing now. He should be reading now.’, thinking of public school friends and what their kids are learning. Homeschooling takes such a different approach that it took me some time to wean myself off the public school thinking and to relax a little more. The need to learn those things at such a young age is less, but to constantly expose the kids to the reading of books every day, the excitement of learning something new, nature studies/walks outdoors, and more. The goal is to instill a love of learning in the kid’s hearts.
I do have curriculum to teach them their phonics, reading, etc. At first, I thought it was important to do a lesson from their books every school day, and if we missed it, oh no, not good! Man, was I wrong. I’ve learned, just recently, that it’s important to schedule time, not content, and to see where the learning goes for that week. I schedule three days a week for learning time. We wake up, do morning chores, eat breakfast, and usually start around 9:30. I try to teach them the calendar, sing a song, say a prayer, and have something I want to teach them. Last week, we learned about tornadoes, due to my insane love of the movie “Twister”. Actually, the boys wanted to learn about this, so this fell into the ‘unschooling’ method. We watched some youtube videos, taught about the letter T, drew tornadoes, and made a simple tornado in a mason jar with some dish soap. Super cool.
I read to them everyday, and I love this. This is neat, because we practice letter recognition, sight words, but the biggest thing I believe is this quote:
“Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.” Emilie Buchwald
And so, I read to them every day, at least, try to. We request books online from the library all the time. Simple. I love it when they smash on the couch with me, all sitting on my lap, and me trying to manage holding the book and the kiddos. It’s a fun treat.
I really love the Charlotte Mason method due to it’s simplicity, gentle form of learning, short lessons, and it’s nature studies. One part of CM is copywork, to help them learn how to write. The other day, Ethan wanted to write down the names of his stuffed animals on paper. I wrote down the names, and had him copy them. He wrote the letters, and they looked fantastic. Writing lesson for the day. Perfect!
It’s little stuff like that where we are learning all through out the day. Kevin always helps me in the kitchen with cooking. He practices counting and math there. Awesome.
We’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web at night. At dinner, I like to have the boys tell me back the story. They remember a lot! Narration seems to be working great, and its neat to see what they remember.
Yet, I sometimes feel that we are an eclectic homeschooling family. Lately, as you can see by what I’m constantly pinning on Pinterest this week; I’ve been reading about the unschooling method with a very open mind. I remember years ago hearing a small premise of what unschooling is about, and thinking ‘That’s crazy!!’. Now, I’m intrigued, and can see the importance of interest led learning, and the very relaxed and natural aspect of it.
Yet, the greatest thing about homeschooling is that you can home school whichever way you want, be it one method or three methods, and do what works best for your family. It’s so awesome! It’s so customizable, and I feel the spirit guiding me all along the way, making changes here and there, dropping some things and trying new things. It’s so neat. The beginning of my first year doing this I was a wreck trying to do it how I thought it was supposed to be done, and now as the end of the year is finishing, I can breathe a sigh of relief, let go of things that aren’t working, and look for the path that does work. Oh, it’s such a fun journey, and I’m just having a wonderful time learning. There are not enough hours in the day for me to learn all the wonderful things there are out there to help me. I savor any minute I have in the bathroom next to me tower of reading inspiration, when I can read a few more pages of “Anne of Green Gables”.