Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Different Methods of Homeschooling

Just as every family is different, every homeschooling family uses different methods with their children.  There are rigid school-at-home-ers (wow, that's convoluted!), the eclectic homeschoolers, the unschoolers, and so forth.  There's classical homeschoolers who use A Well Trained Mind  or Charlotte Mason or A Thomas Jefferson Education as their curriculum.  There are advocates of child-led education.  I tend to use a mix.

My primary inspiration, and the book I go back to when I feel like I need to get "back on track" is A Well Trained Mind.  I do not follow it strictly.  For one thing, I am a very busy single mother - I basically have 2 jobs, one outside the home for a couple hours a day, and another that I mostly do at home.  Either way, when I'm working, I'm WORKING.  (The ex didn't understand it - part of the reason he's the ex.  Bless his heart.)  Because of all this, I have to schedule time to take an afternoon off to have a field trip with the kids, and I need my kids to be very independent workers.  I just don't have time to molly-coddle them.

Hanging out learning about nature.
Also because I work all the dang time, I'm not able to "present lessons" the same way other classical homeschoolers are able to.  History is the only "lesson" I'm able to present on a regular basis.  (We use Story of the World right now.)  I have the kids read classics that go with history, and write narrations about what they read, then correct spelling and grammar and have them re-write it correctly.

I outline for them what I expect them to do that day, and they are able to ask me questions about their assignments when I'm working my WAH job.

The wonderful part of it is that they learn quickly how to be truly self sufficient.  Mercedes is a perfectionist by nature, but by learning to ask questions and daring to make mistakes, she's learning to learn.

Jared has learned to find the answers he needs in rather *ahem* unconventional ways - he's notorious for finding Mercedes' old workbooks and then copying them.  Argh!

Because my youngest kids have never been to school, I haven't had to cope with the necessity of "de-schooling," or allowing time for them to decompress after being removed from public school.  We do have times of burn out, for them and for me, when I feel like the best thing I can do is have them play as much as possible.  We have dolls, dollhouses, K'nex, Legos, magnets - and that's a great time to do science experiments that are noisy and messy, like the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.

If you're planning to begin homeschooling, start with the books listed above, as well as John Taylor Gatto's writings.  And feel free to ask me questions!

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