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How We Homeschool
"relaxed eclectic homeschoolers bordering on unschooling"
To start, we simply exposed our firstborn to everything we could find that might be interesting, even reading and singing to her in utero. When the second child arrived, and the first approached "school age", it seemed natural to go the next step.
I read every book I could find on the subject, took early childhood ed classes at the community college, joined a homeschooling support group, ordered books, kits, lesson plans, set up schedules - the whole nine yards. While I worked with my 5 year-old, the 2 ½ year-old would pay attention, wanting to "do school" too. I soon noted that he was learning the same stuff his sister was without my really even trying. We moved over and let him join us.
When the third child came, we had reached a stage of scheduled time, assigned pages, forced work, and frustration. It became apparent to me that the children were learning more easily, and readily, when the work was not assigned, and I began to look back at my own days of schooling. "By golly, the topics you chose for yourself were always a lot more fun to research than those someone else said you had to do"....hmmmm....I began looking more deeply into "un" schooling - the approach that surrounds the child with interesting things, ready access to knowledge on a wide variety of subjects, tools for study, and the time and permission to follow their own interests while the teachers (good old Mom and Pop) are available as guides and support. What a relief!
Now we use everyday events to our advantage as learning oportunities. For instance, we have family coming to visit from Germany this summer, so we are all learning German, and we are planning to delve deeper into American Sign Language because a good friend of ours recently lost his hearing. Even the painful stuff that happens in life or ugliness that shows up in movies is an opportunity to teach. We have a huge and wonderful science book that we are all going through together, and there is regular practice with mathematics, spelling, writing, geography, etc., but it is much more relaxed now.
The internet, which families can readily access from the comfort and safety of their own homes, has opened up whole new vistas for education. Anything you wish to study or teach can probably be found on the World Wide Web. Search engines abound, reference libraries are everywhere, and with little effort you can find information about almost any subject you can imagine. Computer access may be the greatest thing you can give your child (after love, that is) to ensure his/her opportunity to learn about the world. The knowledge of the universe is at your fingertips - from children's book authors to science experiments, & from learning how to spell to talking 'real-time' with an astronaut. Many homeschoolers share their own worksheets and unit study ideas freely online.
There is a 'catch', though, and it's a big one: Parents cannot give up their responsibility to monitor their child's activity just because this little box is 'educational'....along with the great wonders of history, science, language, and other wholesome knowledge, the world, including the internet, is rife with dishonesty, pronography, hatred, and entrapment - we must still take the time to teach our children how to avoid these when they can and how to deal effectively with them when avoidance fails. Of course, that is probably the most important lesson we can teach our kids, whether we send them to someone else for their education or keep them at home.
It still takes dedication, research, cooperation and some semblance of routine...
(I'm none too good at this last one, but my kids are doing well anyway).
We let our kids get up a little later than the public school kids have to. They usually get to choose the subject of study. They can stay in their pjs if they wish, and take a break whenever Mom - I mean the Teacher - says "O.K!" They read voraciously, write all sorts of things, build interesting structures and eat pretty well. They are learning all the while. We are free to go places in the middle of the day, take a week off when we need to, and go over something as many times as necessary. Sometimes they even get to go to work with Dad. It isn't all easy - most of my computer time these days is spent putting together practice sheets instead of surfing, but when I look at my own three children, it is an easy choice to make.
In short, it works for us. Our kids are bright, well rounded, creative, outgoing, and able to hold their own in conversation even with adults. And, they are not as influenced by fads, peer pressure and mob mentality as their public school peers tend to be.
Would you like to see what our day is like? Click here: Our Typical Homeschool Day
If I had to give one 'best piece of advice' to homeschoolers, it would be the same I would give any parent - "Read, read, read, and read some more - with, to, and about your children!"