This week I plan on spending some time with the many homeschooling books and resources I have accumulated over the past 4 years or more. Homeschooling has been something I have wanted to do since well before we even had children. I have never wavered from that decision, but that does not mean I am not slightly intimidated by it.
We have a pretty great and active homeschooling group in our area that continues to grow and grow. What I love about it is that we all have different styles, practices, and ideas. We have artists and homesteaders, former dental hygienists, and former teachers; there is Waldorf and Montessori, project based, and unschooling. We all have different strengths and that is important.
The more I read about unschooling, the more I feel pulled in that direction. That being said I was conventionally schooled and struggle a little bit with the level of trust that it requires. I strongly believe that children have an innate yearning to learn and that when it is done at their pace and in accordance with their interests it can be magic.
Our plan, thus far, is to do a combination of homeschooling and unschooling. I am sure many hardcore unschoolers would argue that isn’t unschooling at all, but to each their own. I think when I say unschooling most people get their hackles up thinking it is irresponsible or neglectful, but I define it as placing topics and learning opportunities in the child’s path and following their lead to facilitate their learning. We will use the Ontario Curriculum as a guideline for where we should be focusing our attention and to know what skills they will very likely have by the end of that time frame. Our goal is to hold ourselves loosely to these guidelines and be patient where we are behind and celebrate where we are excelling. Instead of having really formal learning sessions I prefer the idea of passive learning though daily objects and activities. We hope to arrive at the same destination by taking side roads, short cuts and long cuts, and of course by enjoying some unscheduled tangents. In Ontario, they have introduced full day kindergarten starting at the age of 4 which has been controversial to say the least. If we were sending Poppy to school, she would be starting in September 2013 at the age of 4.5 and Silas would begin in September 2014.
Poppy has known her colours, numbers and letters since about 18 months, but her speech was very slow to come. Silas on the other hand, has very little interest in letters and numbers, knows his colours, and he has had a crazy vocabulary beginning before he was 1. One of my favourite sentences he said was at about 18 months: “I’m’a go outside now. Where’s mine yellow shoes is?”. Poppy’s first real sentence came when she was about 2 years and 3 months: “Chicken eggs all gone.” They each have their own strengths and they both continue to make progress.
Science and geography and even math don’t worry me half as much as teaching them the important and life changing art of reading. I have no memory of learning how to read, so it seems like such an abstract thing to teach and learn. I have recently picked up a few varied resources to help me learn how to effectively teach it to them when they are ready. My worry is not that they will not learn it, but that I will not be able to teach it when the time arrives. The books I have, specifically focused on reading, writing and a little math include: Learning Essentials by the Canadian Curriculum Press (purchased at Costco); Teaching Writing in Kindergarten by Randee Bergen; The New Kindergarten by Constance J. Leuenberger; ABC fun + 123 by Shirley Erwee. I will take what I feel will be best from each of these and use what the kids seem to enjoy most.
I recently had the opportunity to discuss the Oak Meadow Curriculum (Grade 1) with one of our homeschool mamas and loved how they taught math in the form of memorable stories. I felt that it would be a great and effective way to learn math when the interest bubbles up.
I think I am a perfect fit for homeschooling because I feel my learning style was never quite suited to the way school does it and I struggled because of that. I learn best from interesting stories, enthusiasm, interest, and from doing. Fractions never really made sense until I started baking and cooking, building things myself, and cutting my own real pies. I think I will be teaching many things over the years that never quite clicked for me back in the day and will have some “Aha moments” of my own in the process.
Children are in school for many hours per day, but I have talked with homeschooled kids, homeschooling moms, and even teachers who admit that the amount of learning done in the classroom could be accomplished in much less time at home. They can then follow their own interests in whatever direction they see fit with the rest of their days. In my mind this is the very best of both worlds.
Of course, we are just young pups in this long journey, but these are our goals and ideas today. I am so grateful that homeschooling is a viable option for us in this great country. I am grateful that we can live quite well on one income despite our debts and bills. I am grateful that we can ease into our day and it is me who gets to learn along side our children. I am grateful for a very local and vibrant community of homeschoolers despite how remote we are. I am grateful for endless internet resources and that I can connect and pull from even more blogs and blog readers such as your lovely selves.
It has been a constant struggle for me to find a rhythm that works for us, but I am going to try again. It all feels a bit frantic still as the kids are on completely opposite sleeping schedules so we start off kilter. My ideal day would look something like this:
6am – everyone up – breakfast and coffee all together
7am – brush teeth, showers, get dressed, brush hair, make beds, quick tidy of rooms
8am – 9am – free play, snuggles, quietly ease into the day
9am – outside time or yoga for cold and rainy days
9:45 -10:30 – free play
10:30 – snack time
11:00 – free play while I prepare lunch
12:00 – lunch time
12:30 – story time, finger plays, singing, etc
1pm – movie time (Silas will often fall asleep at this time)
2pm – drawing, letters, numbers, colours, art, painting, craft, play dough, workbooks if interested
3pm – baking with mama (muffins, bagels, pitas, bread, cookies, etc) or more outside time
4pm – movie, free play, etc while I prepare supper
5pm – Mike home, eat supper
5:30pm – clean up, dishes, wipe tables and counters, tidy kitchen
6pm – bath
6:30 – Daddy time -chasing, hiding, squealing, reading fun books on the iPad. Mama can crochet or blog
7pm – Evening snack and brush teeth
7:30 – If Silas did not nap, he will be ready for bed now.
Poppy free play or movie while Daddy practices the guitar (or works from home)
8:30 – Reading with Poppy (and Silas if he is still awake) – A chapter book like Little House or other classics
9pm ’till we crash pm – guitar, crochet, blog, watch tv, etc.