Happy New Year! We spent much of the holiday week out of town, and I’m just starting to settle back to normal (whatever that is).
Because of stuartdelony’s question on my “About” page, I want to talk homeschooling. I know there are far more experienced homeschool mammas than I who can probably give some great curriculum advice. So let’s hear it. 🙂
First, let me say that I recommend Lisa Whelchel’s So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling. This is a great resource and shows you that homeschooling will not look the same in every home. Next, try things and don’t be afraid to scrap things that aren’t working. Expect to waste some money on great curriculum that just doesn’t work with your child. I heard super things about Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, and I know a lot of families that have just loved that reading curriculum. But when my first daughter began to ask me to teach her to read and we sat down to use that, she hated it. This child who was highly motivated to read started to whine and complain when it was time for her reading lessons. So we stopped. I put that book on the shelf and went back to just reading to her before we found another curriculum. I ended up trying a couple more really good beginning reading books before I finally found a system that worked with her. So . . . don’t be afraid to try some different things before you figure out what will work for your family. And what works for one of your children may not work for all of your children. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that you can sort of tailor the education to your children’s learning styles and preferences and to your teaching style and preference.
We tend to be pretty laid-back about school. I do not try to duplicate a classroom setting at home. It was tempting to do that because I taught school before I had children, but acting out school at home didn’t fit in with the goals my husband and I have for educating our children. We do some worksheets and we do some science and history; we sit around the table and practice math facts and do math worksheets; and we learn parts of speech. But our mindset is that we are always learning and we try to make learning as natural as we can. Now, I know of some families who do this much better than we do and who realy go the whole unschooling way. I suppose I lean a little more toward traditional homeschooling, but we’re not regimented and super organized and really heavy with textbooks. Maybe I fall somewhere in between.
My preschoolers learn to sort by sorting laundry and toys and silverware. We practice counting as we play and as we look at books and as we drive down the road. We talk about colors as we play and as we look at books and as we eat foods and give out water cups. With my kindergartener, I do some phonics drills but we also talk about words and what sounds are in the words and we play I Spy games with beginning sounds. We rhyme words all the time. We count by 5’s and 10’s for fun. We read books and stories. And I let my children play — a lot!
Last year, my daughters went to a Christian school. I felt like I never saw them, and I missed them. Their brothers also missed them. I missed seeing my children play together. And my girls didn’t have time to really let their imaginations go. This is one of my favorite things about homeschooling. Today, we’ve pretty much finished the formal part of school. We’ve done some worksheets and we’ve read our history lesson and our character lesson. Now, my children are pretending they are on a camping trip. They’re hiking around inside our house and crossing pretend streams and setting up a pretend campsite. They have on their bathing suits and they are pretending to swim in the kitchen. Later, I will ask my daughters to write about their pretend camping trip in their journals. They’re probably learning more and using their minds more in this pretend play than they did on those worksheets at the dining room table.
I’ll try to do another post about specific textbooks and curriculum. In the meantime, I hope other homeschooling moms and dads will comment about what homeschooling looks like in their home.
Before I end this post, though, I do want to emphasize that each homeschooling family will function differently. And you may function differently from year to year. The year I had a daughter doing first grade and a daughter doing kindergarten and a 3 year old and a 2 year old and a baby and I was in the early stages of pregnancy, we were very hit-and-miss and laid-back with school. I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I’d hoped doing formal school stuff. Some days we didn’t do any math worksheets and other days we’d do five. Our “school” just didn’t look anything like what I’d thought it would. But when my first grader did the standardized test at the end of the school year, she did a fabulous job! (Much better than she did on a similar standardized test last year after a year of “real school”!) So, relax and find what works for your family and try really hard not to compare yourself to every other homeschooling family out there. 🙂