Monday, September 30, 2013

Rudolf, Charlotte and Maria - Part One

We are an inspired homeschool family.

Inspired by a whole bunch of people.

This is the first year of homeschooling where I really feel like we have developed a path, are thriving on this path and can see the path lead us in a direction where there is light at the end of it instead of uncertainty.

Over the summer, I was nose-in-book.  I was really searching for something more for our family.  I found our homeschool becoming too school like and I wasn't thrilled with that.

One thing I knew that I was looking for was a way to bring more spiritualism and calmness to our daily activities.  And by spiritualism, I don't mean religious spiritualism.  I mean a sense of self, a sense of connection between us and the world around us, and a sense of being. 

The other thing I knew I wanted was to incorporate were stories and singing.  During the last year of homeschooling the song had left our family and we rarely made time for stories anymore. We were a bleak bunch!

Next up, nature.  The kids thrive in nature so I wanted to make sure that it was a huge part of our lives.  I didn't want to be stuck at a table when the sun was calling us outside.

And lastly, I really wanted a focus.  Not a schedule, but something that would keep us gently moving in the right direction, but not make me feel all stressy and hassled and a slave to check lists and goals.

I found most of my answers with Rudolf, Charlotte and Maria.

Rudolf Steiner, a philosopher and creator Waldorf Education.  (If you are wondering where the name Waldorf comes from, Steiner was approached by the owner of the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette company to create a school for the children of his workers. Tada! The first Waldorf school was created.)

Charlotte Mason, an educator who believed that children were people and should be treated as such, and who believed that children should be taught facts through stories instead of just the dry fact based text books.  Sign me up!

Maria Montessori, a doctor and educator, who's main focus started with children who had special needs.  Her educational philosophy is very scientific and based largely on providing manipulatives and sensory exploration for children to develop specific skills.

These are just loose descriptions of these wonderful people.  In the next few blog posts I will outline in more detail each educator's philosophy and the bits and pieces that we have adopted for our homeschool.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First Day of School Tomorrow

Well, looking at the clock, really, it is today.

The summer has flown so quickly.  I'm sitting here and the breeze coming through the window has some very chilly fall undertones to it. 

But still, when I looked at the calendar this morning, I couldn't help saying WHAT THE WHAT????

How can it be September already?

And tonight I find myself awake with anticipation over tomorrow.

Tomorrow we fully immerse ourselves in a new way of learning and family life and I'm so excited, I can't sleep. 

I'm hoping the routines and rhythms we create together will help us to connect again, feel relaxed again, and most of all, have fun again! We've started some and I have noticed a marked change in our day to day interactions already.

So here is a basic outline of what we'll be doing in the coming weeks.

Wake, eat, dress, walk dog, all the nitty gritty that happens every morning.

Next up, morning circle.  This is where stories will be told, songs will be sung, games will be played, and it will be the basis of the main lesson work that comes next.

At each circle, stories and songs will focus on specific topics. Tomorrow we'll be starting with phonics for my little lady, and I have created a story that I will share while drawing pictures at the same time that incorporate the letter a and words that being with that sound.  The next day we'll stay with the a theme, read a story called Mouse and the Great Big Apple, and focus on math by talking about, and using a real apple, sharing an apple.  For Anna we will focus on the number one (each person gets one piece) for Alex I'll focus on beginning to learn times tables through grouping. Then the next day we'll go back to A and the next we'll do math again. Right now we are only going to be doing circles four days a week.

After our morning circle, we move on to working on our main lesson book.  This is the extent to our table work this year, will be short and sweet and focus on what was discussed during our circle.  Tomorrow, Anna and I will draw things that start with Aa and practice writing the letter. Alexander will work on "a" word patterns, drawing pictures and spelling the words beside them. 

Alexander will also be doing JUMP math, because he was sad to have completed his math workbook and not have something to continue.  And he will also read aloud each day from a reader of his choice.

We'll also have time to continue our project work.  Each of us currently has a project we are working on that we focus on for a period of time each day.  These are things we chose, and are available for us to work on whenever and however long we want.  Alexander right now is working on knitting, Anna is making a robot out of recyclables as well as making puppets out of felt with me and I try to write when I get a chance (but really, any time one is working on a project, I take that time to keep the house from looking like a bomb exploded.)

Geography we'll do through History which will be told through stories.  Right now we are reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well as looking through the History of Canada and how European's settled and lived when they first came to Canada. Later this month we'll be visiting Crawford Lake Conservation Park and see a longhouse and learn about First Nations heritage.

For science we'll mostly be working on observing the natural environment and study what the kids show an interest in.  This will happen more incidentally, but will also make it's way in to morning circles. 

But most importantly, what we'll be doing is singing.  My kids love to sing.  They love to hear me create songs on the fly, silly poems about mundane things.  They love finger plays and nursery rhymes and we'll be doing a lot of those all day long. 

I'm excited!  And I really should be getting to sleep so I don't feel like a zombie tomorrow...

Happy first day of school, how ever you plan to celebrate it!