Thursday, November 4, 2010

Back to School

So, how about a homeschool post, lol.  Winter is coming!  It really is.  One of these days I'm going to wake up in the morning to two feet of snow, and the sun is not going to come out and melt it all away.  One of these days.  It really is going to happen!

 One of the things I have always loved best about homeschooling is the freedom to work on our own schedule.  We don't have to do school from 9-3.  We don't have to do school from Monday to Friday.  And we don't have to do school from September to June.  If we want to do school in our jammies sprawled out on the living room floor at midnight on a Sunday- it's allowed!  It's encouraged!  It's preferred!

  Well, by most of us anyway.  We do have one weird little morning person here, but the rest of us are night owls.

So, a little explanation first for non homeschoolers.  There are three general types of homeschoolers.
1) school at home.  Where the classroom is kind of recreated at the kitchen table.
2) unschoolers.  Where the classroom doesn't exist, and the child follows his own interests, learning through life experiences.
3) eclectic.  Where the classroom shows up occasionally, or for certain subjects, but a lot is still done through life experiences.

We are eclectic.  We do math and English at the kitchen table on a pretty regular basis through the snowy season.  The kids use work books.  I teach.  They do spelling lists & tests.

We have, from time to time over the years, found some good science work books.  I've printed some online health units.  We have some geography work books that we started last year but never finished, too.  Those get tossed out now and again, and we do a unit study on the subject at hand.  They're not a part of the daily routine.

We watch a lot of TV.  Which is kind of funny, considering there are a whole host of homeschoolers who don't own tvs, or only use them for videos...  We watch a lot of TV.  Since my big kids were little, and totally hooked on Bill Nye the Science Guy & The Magic School Bus.  Two awesome shows, that as a mom, and their teacher, I had a really hard time telling them to turn off the TV to come do their school work.  As they got older, they really got into Myth Busters, and documentaries.  And there are few historical movies that I myself can easily walk away from, even though I know they've been Hollywoodized...  My kids, of course, figured out early how to use that against me (we started out school at home).  They figured out that as long as they kept the tv on the Discovery Channel, or the History Channel, that mom was likely to leave them be.

We also love, love, love computers.  I am a total addict myself.  In the early years we tried to keep it schooly.  They had questions.  The internet had answers.  We looked up all kinds of stuff, from Alcatraz to Komodo dragons.  We bought educational software.  Jump Start Explorers was a family favourite.  #1 & #2 Were about 7 & 8, playing a jump start game, when they asked me to teach them long division.  They had to get the answers right to progress in the game, so we got out the white board, I gave them a quick lesson, and they spent the afternoon between the white board and the computer.

We love field trips.  When we lived down south we had memberships to the Children's Museum & the Ontario Science Centre.  We took day trips to all of the local small town museums.  We went to a lot of Touring Players shows.  We met up with other homeschoolers for Science Club, day trips to police stations, fire departments, pioneer villages.  There were three large, active home school groups there, with all kinds of events & activities going on.

We learned how to do things differently.  Our Geography 'class' was a World Map on one wall, and a map of Canada on another wall.  We watched a lot of tv.  and movies.  I may have mentioned that already.  When the kids watched Lilo & Stitch, we went to the world map & found Hawaii.  When we watched The Amazing Race, we went to the world map and followed their travels.  When we watched Survivor, we went to the world map and found New Guinea.  When we watched the news, we went to the Canada map and found that town.

Phys. Ed.  Farm kids.  Enough said?  They have played some organized sports- baseball & soccer.  They have sports night at cadets, and lots of marching.  But mostly they are just healthy, active farm boys.  They play outside.  They run through fields.  They shovel manure.  They carry firewood.  They ride horses.

Art has ranged from simple crayons & paper, to painting rooms & buildings.  From crafts made with paper & glue, to crafts made with wood & nails.  From the recycling bin treasures to the expensive art supplies.

And we talk a lot.  About everything.  All the time.

The unschooly stuff doesn't stop outside of 'school hours'.  They keep learning, asking questions, watching tv, using the internet.  #2 reads for pleasure.  #1 listens to audio books for pleasure.  They make stuff because it's fun for them.  It doesn't stop because it's 3:45.  It doesn't stop because it's August.  It's a life style.

So, when I say 'back to school', it's the work books I'm talking about.  Two hours a day for 6 months is plenty of time for a year's worth of school.

We start when the snow starts.  I am a hermit.  I hate to go outside in the snow and cold unless it's absolutely necessary.  So I work my ass off from spring to fall.  When the snow comes, I stay indoors.  I do school with the kids.  We play board games.  We watch movies.  We curl up with a blanket & a good book in front of the fire.

I am ready for winter.  We are done this years chores.  We've got a head start on next spring's chores.  I am ready for winter.  I am ready for a good book and a warm fire.

1 comment:

  1. People only learn 1% or 3% of what they know inside a classroom. That is a fact that astounds most folk. It would help if I remembered the statistic correctly. By "learn" I don't mean spelling or math or science. I mean everything we know--how to tie shoes, where gas is cheapest in town,the wind blows your hat or napkin away, etc. So, while as a teacher, I do strongly support school, I do support non-stop learning. Experential learning is best.

    We don't "teach" a child colors, we say, "Let's get a red apple." Or, "Let's put all the blue cars in this pile, and let's put the blue blocks there, too." Well, I did it that way. I cannot imagine a child being more than two or three and not knowing colors.

    Critical thinking and problem solving are "learning skills." My daughter was trying to tell me the color of something at school. She was pondering what color it was while she ate her snack (4 yrs). Finally, she said, "Light black!" I was more proud of her thinking that way than I would have been if she knew the correct word which I immediately gave her--gray.She was making connections, not just repeating a fact.She knew the word, but found a different way to express it.

    You sound very balanced in your approach to your teaching and their learning experiences. I would hate the snow once it got deep and ugly.