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Monday, August 26, 2013

Finding are way and Growing as We Go

We are now 5 weeks into our school yr if you want to keep track or like me have to for reporting reasons. Yet really life is always teaching and we are always learning. I started out our 3rd yr as homeschoolers with a predesignated curriculum that I chose for each kid based on one what I feel they should be working on, two what type of learner they are, and 3 some influence based on what society says they should know. I felt confident . Had my schedules made but something happened. I can't really say how or when. Maybe it has been in a since eating at me for the last 3 yrs. I felt that children in general will learn no matter what. They will learn when they are ready or want the information. In other words they are interested. I also found my self saying learning happens outside the book, away from the desk. It seemed that we learn everywhere and at all times. I can't say I 100% agreed with the unschooling way that some homeschoolers had taken yet I knew I leaned more that way than overly structured. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on to try and figure out exactly what is the best route and I have decided there really is no one route that fits my family or our needs and desires completely. So we are going to make this journey what we want. I know I feel strongly that my kids should learn math, reading, and grammar yet I do not care at what pace. Those subjects we will do in some fashion every single day. Everything else will be based off two other educational models they are Waldorf and Sudbury.  I like the natural hands on and nature aspect of Waldorf but I like the democratic nature of Sudbury. What I mean by that is the children get a vote and seeing they are of two totally different ages it could be interesting to see the way they may come together on the daily life in our school.  

Here is an idea or rough draft on how I would like to see this going.

Monday morning meeting- This is where we will decide by vote what topics we cover this week, what projects we will do, family projects,  What movies will be watched during Movie learning Wednesday, What nature inspired theme or place to visit on Thursday ,what field trips we may take, Rules of how issues are handled. I think this will be a good experience for the kids to learn to come together on dissension making topics and allow them to build a better relationship with each other and myself. I believe this meeting could take a few hrs and therefore the only other areas covered subject wise on Monday will be math, reading, grammar. I will read to them from our living science book and they will complete notebook. Each child will also work on their individual creative project. This could be anything from cooking, art, editing videos what ever they feel inspired to do.

Tuesday- Tuesday's are special because Daddy is home. This allows a great opportunity for as to do things as a family. Tuesday morning 2hr block of math, reading, grammar. Then we as a family will work on the topic or unit of study that was chosen on Monday by vote. The idea is to dig deep and branch that topic out as far and as wide as we can as a family and all members will be a part of that process. I imagine us spending at least 3 hrs working on the project. The rest of the day will be spent enjoy family time be it through games, play, or what ever life brings at us.

Wednesday- Wed. morning 2 hr block of math, reading, and grammar. Then we will pick back up on our topic project for about two hrs. We will then spend about 1-2 hrs on the topic project. Last we have a special theme for Wed. called movie learning Wed. the movie or movies picked would have been chosen at the Monday morning meeting. Each child will also have time to work on their creative projects.  

Thursday- Thurs. 2 hr block of math, reading, and grammar. Then 1 hr spent on topic project. Then we will either work on a nature inspired theme or we will weather permitted go out on a nature walk to learn from nature. All children will keep an on going nature study notebook. 

Friday- We call Friday fun day Friday it is set aside to first finish up and work we still need to do on our topic project for the week. Attend field trips or park days with other homeschooling families. This is the day where the children are learning from life, there is no set guidelines of anything we need to cover or accomplish. We may go to the zoo or even a movie. It could be a trip shopping or out to eat for pizza. I leave the ideas up to the children as long as we have the funds to pay for it. 

Any topic project the children feel they want to continue on into the next week will be allowed. Reason being I dare you to pick any topic that you know everything there is to know on that topic. I beat you can't do it. That is because there is always more you can learn on any given topic. I am hoping that this will not only instill a love and desire to learn through out our homeschooling yrs but also through out their lives. I hope this will help bring them closer together and allow them to find constructive ways to handle any issues that may come up between them therefore building a stronger relationship as brother and sister. It will allow them the experience of working with others of different age range as well. By giving them a voice in all we do it allows them to see that even if they are children they are human beings and will allow them a way to express any concerns or desires. I hope by exposing them in this way they will be better suited to life in an adult world. 

In case you may be wondering about life skills all the children have chores actually all family members have chores. They are each taught to cook, clean, do laundry, sew, mow the grass, ect that is part of our normal daily life just as much as it is most everyone else.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Relaxed Homeschooling is relaxing and fun

The only structured schooling we did today was math. It took a total of 35 mins. Oh boy you are saying. She hasn't taught her kids diddly today. Sure I have. We learned how to make french toast for breakfast. Then we piled in the van and head to grand daddy's house so we could harvest the garden. Do you realize how much learning takes place if you are out in nature. I learned beans will mold if they have to much water. That corn can get a fungus on it that looks like a brain. Seriously it looked like a brain. We discovered so many creatures. Snails of all sizes eating away at the leaves. Baby lizards jumping from one plant to another. My kids got a kick out of them. Spiders and ants every where. We talked about all these living creatures. What classification we would put them into. What they ate and why a garden seemed to be a perfect home to them. We talked about good bugs in a garden and bad bugs in a garden. Then I explained the difference between bugs and insects because not all insects are bugs.Then we learned how to shuck corn and even found some worms to add to our list of living creatures that live in a garden. On the way home we played the adjective game. This is game to see who can use the most adjectives to describe something. We talked about the water cycle and how we have had so much rain that it is now harming the garden. We came home and the kids decided to find out how snails get their shells. After lunch it was time to sit down a do a little reading and the two oldest are off in the rooms engrossed in their books. I am sure we will find even more to learn before this day ends. Remember the world is your classroom and there is always something to learn. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Let's See Where This Adventure Will Take Us

Don't fall out of your seats but every since I started homeschooling and learning about all the different ways families homeschool the have been two things that have kind of kept coming back to me one is Waldorf style and the other is unschooling. So I have decided to squash a good bit of how and some of the whats or our homeschool as a trial run. I am not going full on unschooling so don't freak,lol. I guess you can say I am going to move to a more relaxed eclectic way of doing things. If you think about it I am sure some of you already do this in some ways. Do you cover every subject every day? No then you are in a since relaxed. Do you maybe let one subject be more child lead then you are some what relaxed. Anyway. I am throughing the schedule out to the trash and I am going to see where it leads us on this path. What is the worst that can happen? Next year we might have to work a tad bit harder. Ok I am fine with that. I am going to be spending a good bit on adding to the already large amount of education items in my home. Maybe more hands on, more movies, more crafts, that kind of thing. I just wondered if any of you have experienced moments were you question is they way you go about homeschooling the best fit. Have you wanted to just break free and see if maybe there is something to this unschooling. I am going to try and document this journey and the things I see them choosing to learn. How ever math will remain the same because if this fails it is the one area that will be the hardest to catch up on.

An Unschooling friends wrote this and I wanted to share.... We intentionally strive to allow our curriculum to be interest-driven; that is, based on the interests of each child. With our guidance, our children decide what, when and how they will learn. We want them to be active participants in their education, not passive receivers. It is our belief that through this process, their self-esteem will be preserved and they will be empowered to make good choices throughout their lives.
We have access to and knowledge of typical public school curricula and take those into consideration as we offer social, developmental, and educational opportunities to our children (which we do in abundance). We believe that the most developmentally appropriate curriculum for our children is one that is based on their current interests and needs. Because our children do not naturally divide the world into curriculum areas (for example, language arts, math, etc.), our curriculum is inherently integrated. The children may pursue interests for varying lengths of time (hours to months) and one interest often leads naturally to another.
For example, an interest expressed in the history of the state of Ohio might lead us to: read the World Book section on Ohio; read books on Ohio History and famous Ohioans available at the public library; discuss the authors, artists and artistic style of the books we read; visit major historic sites around the state; write letters to congressional representatives; draw maps of places we have been to in Ohio; go to metro park presentations on the history of Northwest Ohio; study the birds of Ohio; discuss the science and mathematics of building bridges across the Maumee River or skyscrapers in Toledo; and visit manufacturing plants in Ohio. From this might come other interests as diverse as air pollution or the Civil War.
When it is time for our children’s portfolios to be reviewed by a certified teacher, we will collect our many journals, photographs, scrapbooks, and projects that show all the interesting things the children have discovered and the skills they have acquired in the process. This is our course of study – it is an “after the fact curriculum.” This type of “curriculum” is inherently more useful for it provides an accurate record of what our children have actually achieved.  

If you are interested in unschooling I suggest you read some books by John Holt and Jogn Gotto as well as join a few unschooling groups . 

Here is a wonderful video to get a better idea 

and another great video 


Again at this point I am not saying we are unschoolers I am going to say we are very relaxed eclectic homeschoolers. I am very excited to see where this adventure will lead my family and to compare the differences in homeschooling. At this point we have attended publicschool, online virtual publi school, traditional homeschool, and now we are going to attempt a relaxed more child lead, interest lead way of learning. I am a true believer that the world can be your classroom as are many homeschoolers so why not take it a step further and see where life leads us. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Successful First Week

We made it through the first week with no major issues, no break downs, and lots of fun. The software I bought for covering Doug's high school course seems to be working out just fine. I was a bit worried about that one. I am happy to as it takes a load of my shoulders and allows me more time to spend with Maverick my four yr old. We do a 4 day book work schedule with the 5th day being left open for hands on learning, field trips, and extra time to work on projects. In the four days of book work Alyssa completed 8 grammar lessons, 4 voc. lessons, 4 reading comp worksheets, 4 spelling lessons, 36 review worksheets, 4 handwriting lessons, 9 math lessons, read 3 chapters of elemental science zoology, read 5 science related living books, completed 6 notebooking pages in science, completed 1 lesson and 2 labs in science Odyssey, read 3 living books on Colonial times, read 2 ch in history text, completed the first section of Colonial times lapbook, watched 5 science videos, watched 4 history videos, 3 art lessons, 1 cooking lesson, and she has worked half way through her state unit on Alabama.Maverick has continued to spend about an hr on educational websites like abcmouse, starfall, and pbskids. He has started to trace letters and numbers. He doesn't like this so I bought these dry erase boards that have the letters and numbers to trace hoping this makes it funnier for him. We started the basic of adding blocks like 2+3=4. He has read 2 phonics books and learned the words, DOG, HOG, FROG, CAT,RAT,SAT. Other than that he sits in when he chooses to on science and history . 

I did notice a few areas that we need to address. We will be going back to daily multiplication practice. I will be adding in more writing projects. Plus we will be doing more handcrafting projects in the afternoon time to give them more of a natural Waldorf  learning experience. We do not completely follow a Waldorf style education but we do try to incorporate many Waldorf aspects. We do keep subject notebooks and add art to those notebooks. We Do use a lot of hands on learning. We also want to add in handcrafting. If you are not familiar it simple are things made by hand. Like crochet , sewing, wood working, ect..I think we will switch up the schedule to a block schedule which will allow us to give more focus to the subjects on any given day. Monday and Tuesday will be science and cooking while Wednesday and Thursday will be History and crochet/sewing.So we will have 3 Blocks a day. Block one- 1 and a half hrs long, will be language arts and daily review- this will cover grammar, reading comp, spelling, voc, and daily review practice. Block two-1 hr long, will be math only. Block three -3 hrs long, will be science and cooking or History/geography/ crochet/sewing.  By block scheduling it will keep us from having to change subjects so many times and allow us to dig deeper in the ones being covered.