That is the standard question I get when I tell people I homeschool. Well, that and "Aren't you worried that they won't have any friends?". A few readers have recently asked me how I homeschool, so I thought I would create a series of posts that reflect what we do during "school". I use that term loosely, and you'll see why as you read on.
Firstly, I don't follow one theory or method or curriculum. We are a hodge podge of everything and anything I can get my hands on that looks like an interesting way to learn something. I create a lot of my own materials, use a variety of teacher resources, and more often then not, just muck about until we've learned something about something.
I'm not an unschooler, although when it comes to history, geography, science, art and music, we could technically be called unschoolers, because what my kids are interested in is what we are learning about when it comes to those topics. Right now we jump from topic to topic, based on interest. Next year when my oldest is in "grade one" I intend to follow a more classical approach to these topics.
But I'm not a classical education guru either. I do love the structure of learning in a classical education, and I I use many of the ideas. Mostly though, I like how classical method structures learning through history. If you follow history like a story, starting from the beginning and working toward the present, you can cover many topics in detail. And because it is chronologically presented, everything ties together and makes a lot more sense for kids.
One thing that I AM a stickler for is reading and math. Those topics are what make up table work at our place. My biggest focus this last year and a half has been to get my little man reading. We have done this through phonics worksheets and simple reading books.
And today, that was the main focus of our school time. While we always start each day with some reading, today's focus was all reading and writing. We don't have a schedule, we don't follow a plan, and i don't have a checklist. Today, my little man felt like reading. Tomorrow will be something else. The next day might be everything. What we do really depends on our mood. But we ALWAYS do some reading.
Here is what we did today! (We didn't have any outings planned today, so it was just us.)
My little lady started off the school day today. Her schooling has been her own choice. She wants to do everything her big brother does. So I got her a collection of dry erase books and some basic preschool activity books, and we work on counting and colours with toys, blocks and legos. She also knows most of her letter sounds already because she is a sponge and picked it up from little man last year.
Here she is doing some colour matching.
Her favourite activity is cut and paste.
Doing some mazes.
And, back to cut and paste.
Then, she was done for the day. And it was little man's turn. They are almost always at the table at separate times.
Start off the day with reading.
These are the books we read for school. He REALLY enjoys them and the illustrations and basic text are great for emerging readers. I'm really amazed at how quickly he is working through them, and how he is really picking up words independently now.
Next up: Sight words.
These are little booklets that we cut out and put together, each focusing on one sight word. He really enjoys doing them, and I like that each book gets him to read the word, write the word and look for the word in a word search, plus it exposes him to other words with a picture cue.
(I have no clue why this silly picture will not centre, and after five minutes of cutting, pasting, clicking and cursing, I'm giving up. Annoying, isn't it?)
Sight words have been a sticking point for my little man, because it really annoys him that words don't follow the phonics that he has been taught. His exact words were "Well then why did you teach me the letter sounds then!?!". He brings up a valid point. Many homeschoolers aren't bothered with phonics and readers and teaching reading. They allow their children to develop the skill on their own through time and exposure to written word, and I really admire that ability to let go.
I can't let it go.
I need to know that he is learning to read. I'm anal like that. And I feel that learning the letter sounds provides a strong base for literacy, because even if it isn't a phonetic word, if you sound it out you can sometimes make out what the word is. Regardless, we've done it, and despite his initial grumps and groans when it came to sight words, he is really enjoying it now because it helps him read books other than his Bob readers.
By the way, while this is going on at the table...
This is going on in the living room:
Legos have taken over our home. It is an addiction, and one that I am happy to let them indulge in.
And lastly (for table work anyway) he did his picture and copy work.
This involves him drawing a picture of anything he wants (this time he needed a bigger page than the box at the top of his working page because he was drawing an Angry Birds scene), and then he tells me a sentence about it, I write it out and he copies it. Simple stuff.
And in case you were wondering, while he was doing this, this is what was going on in the living room:
Apparently she felt she wasn't done with work yet, so she found some colouring activity books and started doing those. Mazes are a bit of an obsession of hers now.
That was the "school" part of our day. Then we threw on our snow suits and spent the afternoon playing in the snow! Three hours actually. My legs are still frozen.
And we learned a lot playing in the snow. It wasn't the best snow for making snow balls, so we got the spray bottle out and sprayed some so it would become packing snow. This evolved in to a whole conversation about the making of snow and why sometimes it is sticky and sometimes it is fluffy or powdery, which then carried the conversation over to lake effect snow and what that is, and then a big conversation about skiing and snowboarding and sledding and the types of snow that would be best for those sports.
See? We learn a lot more away from the table then we do at the table.
That is the beauty of homeschooling. You really are learning all the time!
After I finally convinced them it would be nice if Mommy could save at least one leg from frost bite (to which they said I should get warmer snow pants. They seem to have an answer for everything these days.), they settled in with some hot chocolate and a DVD while I made these for dinner:
Cookie cutter pancakes!!!
They may look cute, but they take forever to make. Whew! Almost there.
After dinner (just when you think we couldn't cram anymore learning in to the day), my little man found a book about bridges and wanted to make some with his toys. We pulled out the tinker toys and away he and little lady went, building and taking apart and rebuilding, trying to make the structure as strong as he could. He came to the triangle answer all by himself, "They are the strongest, Mama.". And after describing each of the models he made based on the pictures in the books, he came to some very good conclusions and observations. I was impressed with the thought process.
And after bath and a book, they are asleep.
A day well spent in my books.