Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How Should I HomeSchool? Let Me Count the Ways

The Alphabet by Sarah McTernen
When I first committed to the act of homeschooling four years ago, I  read article upon article, book upon book,  went to the conference to listen to lectures and tried to absorb as much knowledge as I could.  I pined over classical learning and Charlotte Mason, tiptoed into Montessori and Waldorf, avoided the idea of "schooling at home" and adopted a unit study approach that still had us scheduled, to keep us on track, but allowed for some freedom and my easily distracted ways.  I had plans.  Then we started our school year.  The plans I made went almost completely out the window. 

Not that we didn't do work.  That first year, my son and I worked on a lot, but it was at his pace and around the schedule of two little sisters. Our first year homeschooling was my son's 2nd grade year.  He had been reading since before kindergarten (which is one of the reasons we left public schooling), and was enthralled with the Harry Potter series of books.  That took care of reading.  We did math worksheets and reading comprehension exercises, because he liked the reading comprehension and needed the math.  We worked on kitchen chemistry and nature exploration.  These sound impressive, but really they were just simple interaction experiments like vinegar and baking soda, and playing in the backyard.   We also worked on Greek and Roman mythology. 

This littles didn't receive any scheduled learning.  We did story time, played with blocks, and played outside.  For the most part that is what I still do with them, now that I think of it.  We also watch television and play computer games. Early elementary in this house is very low key.

Our 3rd and 4th grade years where more sloppy and haphazard.  We had more life going on those years, but we still managed to work on Egyptian and Norse Mythologies, math and science including more chemistry and physics, lots of reading and probably too much TV.

This year is 5th grade and the boy requested more structure. AH!  In August, between football practice and birthday parties, prepping for the littlest ones surgery and following physical therapy, I tried to figure out how to get him more structure without wiping me out.  The method I settled on was E-Mail.  Everyday that we "school", which is Monday through Thursday, he gets an E-Mail that has his daily quote, daily word and work of the day.  Work of the day consists of articles, video lectures and online games that I find for each subject.  We break the subjects up for the week, thought we do not shirk from some overlap: Monday is English, Tuesday is Math, Wednesday is History, and Thursday is Science.  His work is mostly independent.

The middle one is in 1st grade and still working on reading.  Her math skills are good and she loves science experiments.  We are reading The Wizard of Oz aloud at night and I have hopes of starting to read A Little History of the World to them.

I know that there are family out there who do a LOT more than we do during the day.  I have gone through the doubt and trepidation that I am not homeschooling "right".  As I watched mothers who "school" more, who play more, who are calmer or more organized, I came to the conclusion that our children are a part of us.  They encompass our temperaments, quirks, habits and interests in one way or another, even if that is being the complete opposite.  With that in mind, I threw away the thought that another families homeschool would work better in my house.  I am not these women nor are my kids those kids.  If I teach my kids anything that sticks, I hope it is to be confident in who they are, in what they want, and in what they dream.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen

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