Monday, August 31, 2009

Pulling It All Together In Order To Go With The Flow

When we first started homeschooling, we were very "schooly." Considering my background as an elementary school teacher, it's not surprising...we had a separate area for schoolwork, complete with desks, and you know...this really worked well for us at that time. My kids really enjoyed having a classroom, with decorations and bulletin boards that changed with the seasons and holidays and current subjects.

I don't disparage anyone who uses this method. We all are comfortable with different methods; what works for some may not work for others. I remember being perplexed when an unschooling family came over one day, and when I showed the mother our classroom, she said, "Wow, you really do have a classroom," and her tone was disapproving.

Over the years, our style has evolved, and we are now what I would call very relaxed eclectic homeschoolers. The desks have been passed along to other homeschoolers, and reading and writing takes place wherever one happens to be...dining room table, bedroom, couch, outside under the maple trees, morning, noon, or night. This isn't to say we don't have some sort of schedule for some things...indeed we do, but part of this process (for me) has been coming to an understanding of how children process the world around them, and that can't always be put into nice tidy little boxes of learning time.

This year, our curriculum is focused around history, and we are using a lot of 'living books' and art projects and science experiments that are centered around the period of study. Amazon and the local library are our friends.

We're also using history as a jumping-off point for expanding our understanding of the world's various religions. Throw in some math, penmanship practice, and a bit of grammar, and we've got a pieced-together curriculum that works for us.

We spend a lot of time talking about things they're interested in and how it applies to our lives. I don't administer quizzes or tests because the time I spend in speaking with them is enough for me to see their thinking skills develop, and that is more important to me than a grade.

Part of being a relaxed homeschooler is going with the flow. I'm excited to see how this year will progress as we have discarded things that didn't work for us in favor of things that have. I'm hopeful that this, our sixth year outside the government-run school system, will be our best yet.

The Homeschool Lounge is interested in hearing your plans for the year. If you haven't added your post yet, there's still time. Not much, though...the promotion ends today. Click the button for more information. I hope you'll add your plans to the fray. :)


Wendy Hawksley said...

I went to join The Homeschool Lounge but I have to wait to be approved. Wah. I'll probably miss out on the contest. Ah, well. There's always the next one!

Mmm, disapproving tones of voice are always fun. Not!

I'm like you - I think people need to do what works for them. We are structured though not schooly (if that makes sense).

When it comes to subjects that hardly interest my son, I still like to touch on the basics and try to find a way to make it interesting.

Usually getting into hands-on work is what he enjoys. So since he has ZERO interest in history (we totally neglected it last year due to both of us not liking "Story of the World"), I went a different route this year.

Many colorful books AND we're going to actually role-play our lessons.

Today we are off to behave like early humans - trying to make fire with sticks, "hunting" with "spears", etc.

Please keep us updated on how your year goes!

Mark said...

Beautiful. One of the hardest parts of school to cope with for me was my desk. The same as everyone elses, uncomfortable and rigid, lined up at a right angle. For YEARS I subtly kicked my desk out of line every morning when I got to school as a subtle way of surviving.

I wish I could have done school like you are doing school. :)

Bleu said...

Wendy, you have such good ideas...I love the idea of role-playing a history lesson.

A few years ago, First Daughter and I were having some tough times with math...I had difficulty explaining, which meant she had difficulty grasping; we both dreaded math time and nearly every day we both ended up crying in frustration and anger. After reading some information about deschooling, and how kids learn, and finally understanding that it didn't matter if we took some time away from math while she was eight years old I pitched it for the rest of the year. What a relief. The next year, we used a different program with a scripted manual, and had no issues.

Okay, this is starting to turn into an entirely new post, so I think I'll stop now and make a new entry. :D

Bleu said...

Mark, the mental image that brought to mind made me smile. :)

You know, I had a wonderful public school experience, and I really thought I would want that for my kids, but things have changed a lot over the last *cough cough* years. I am fortunate enough to have this alternative, and I'm going to take advantage of it as long as I can.

Still smiling at the image of a boy subtly kicking his desk out of alignment!

Kez said...

I just found your blog and like what I read :) We seem to have pretty similar ways of homeschooling.

Bleu said...

Hi Kez, thank you for stopping by. I'll be over to visit you soon shortly. I'm so glad to be finding similar homeschoolers.