Tuesday, April 05, 2011

So, what kind of homeschooling family are we?

Eclectic. Very eclectic.

There are so many different educational methods and philosophies out there. How on earth do you choose the "best" one?

I am a researcher at heart. Or possibly just obsessive. The jury's out. But anyway, I love to research and learn. I started reading. And reading. And reading and reading and reading. I started talking to my homeschooling friends and my public education friends and family members. I looked up state standards. I ordered catalogs. And I read a lot.

After quite some time, I realized that we love literature, history and science. Those needed to be key areas we emphasized in our schooling. We have a huge amount of children's literature so it made a lot of sense to start there, as unit study homeschoolers. 6 hours a day. Starting at 9 and ending around 3. We did everything like she had done in school except that I allowed her to start 90 minutes later than her public schooled friends (because I'm so very nice, you see).

We were going to do hardcore second grade!

My units were AMAZING!! In fact, we were a bit overwhelmed by the awesomeness of my units. And Haley, who had unmedicated ADHD (among a lot of other learning and neurological issues) lost interest in our units after about 10 minutes on Monday mornings. Seriously. Kind of rough when they were designed to last a week. We fought through that challenge for months. And it was truly a fight. E.v.e.r.y. day. All day. But hey, her anxiety was getting better. :)

In desperation, I threw out most of what I had spent months working on and decided to get focused on what turned her on to learning. Life improved immensely and although I had to mourn what I wanted our school to be, I'm really loving what we've come up with instead. It's much more wonderful.

So this is what our new and improved homeschool life looks like:

Haley gets up whenever she wants to get up (she's always need a few hours more sleep than other children her age). That's usually around 8. She eats breakfast and plays, usually all morning. She can be on the computer, watch tv (we have PBS and Qubo), do art, build with her legos, clean the house (something she does for fun!), take a shower, whatever she wants to do (within reason).

When we start school we always write and draw. She either does an entry in her journal (her choice of topic, three complete sentences and a picture - next year I'll be choosing the topic) or she does an entry in her animal book (she is making a book about animals: I read information about the animal, she writes three complete sentences about the animal and then draws a picture of it). Not sure if we'll stay with the animal  book or move to a geography book next year. We usually use this as handwriting practice, too (Haley has fine motor delays so I don't push too hard here, yet she's made huge improvements).

I always read a scripture story to her (usually using the LDS Gospel Art picture kit) and we'll briefly discuss it. We'll do this next year, too.

She reads to me. We used a lot of different items for readers this year. We'll do that next year, too. She has completed the sight word lists we have.

Next we do we spelling. She has a different spelling task 3x a week. We do five words at a time and I'm currently choosing them from sight words lists (she's learning to spell all 500 words we have as sight words). She's almost done with this! Earlier this year we focused on word families.

She does math, usually worksheets because that is one area where she can typically work independently. She loves math! We are currently looking for a good math curriculum for next year.

She does phonics. She just completed a huge phonics book. Now we're looking for something new to use. Maybe Explode the Code (6, 7, 8) next year (or sooner). Just something to reinforce what she's learned and to continue working on some of the more difficult concepts.

Then we do some basic grammar or reading comprehension skills or analogies.

Next is health (we've been focused on emotional health lately). We only do this about 3x a week.

Next we do history and geography. We currently use Story of the World, Volume 1 (Ancient History) for history. We supplement a ton for geography and history, mostly with living books. This is one of my favorite parts of the day. :)

Then we do science. Other than math, I think this is Haley's favorite part of the day. We just do whatever we want, mostly using living books. This is super fun. We've done a lot of fun stuff this year! I'm considering a science curriculum for next year but I'm not sold on the idea. What we're doing is working really well for us.

That's it, except for art and music and physical education. We do those when we want to add them in. Haley is really musical and artistic so this doesn't feel like school at all.

And every night we read aloud (more). We focus on chapter books at night. Jason and Haley and I snuggle together in bed and read and read. It's fabulous!

So, that's what we do, except when we are on a field trip or visiting Grandma or going to the doctor.

Start to finish it takes about 2-3 hours (except the nighttime reading). Perfect!


tamlynn said...

Love it. It is so great that Haley can get exactly what she needs.

mk said...

I really enjoyed reading this. My son is only 16 months old, but I'm already trying to read as much as I can to decide if this is really what I want to do (right now I think it is, but I'm glad I have a lot of time to decide). Visiting from LDSMOF. :)

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