Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homeschool Days

Our little homeschool has gone through some changes since the beginning of the school year, which for us was July 11, 2011.  My plan was to work through an entire year, with a basic schedule of a few weeks of school, then a week off, a few more weeks of school, then another week off, etc.  I had it all mapped out, every week scheduled, with most of our "off weeks" scheduled for holidays, so that the holiday wouldn't interfere with our school week.  Very rigid, my schedule was.

Well.  Plans change, as Sammy likes to remind me.  (One fateful day in 2010, I had to change "the plan" for the way our day would run.  I can't even remember what "the plan" was, or why I had to change it that day, but it obviously made a big impact on my then 4-year-old.  Now, every time he changes his mind, he reminds me that "Plans change sometimes, Mommy!")

So... I had big plans for our curriculum this year.  We would use:

Horizons Math for Kindergarten and 2nd grade.
Horizons Phonics & Reading for Kindergarten and 2nd grade.
Horizons Spelling & Vocabulary for 2nd grade.
Horizons Penmanship for 2nd grade.
Bob Jones University Press (BJUP) History for 2nd grade.
BJUP Bible for 2nd grade.
BJUP Science for 2nd grade.

Seriously.  It only took us about 30 minutes to navigate our way through the annual homeschool conference in April and plop "the list" of curriculum down in front of the two vendors we wanted to purchase our curriculum from and wait for them to write up our order forms and pay for all of the wonderful books we would be receiving.  I had been out of the hospital for 5 days after having Oliver when the homeschool conference occurred, so the shortness of the trip was necessary.  C-sections are not very conducive to long walks. Otherwise we could have been there for hours! 

We were all (Okay, so maybe only *I* was) filled with the most wonderful sense of expectation and excitement for how "The Plan" for this year was coming together -- we would sit every day, and the boys would joyfully complete their worksheets, and we would read from the textbooks, and it would all be flowers and rainbows and sunshine.

Wait a second.  How long have I been a Boy Mom?  7 years?  You would think that by now I would have learned that boys don't do flowers and rainbows and sunshine.  They love dirt (playing in it).  And rain (playing in it).  And worms (playing with them).  At least my boys do.  And they abhor sitting still.  And listening to me read from a textbook/reading from a textbook by themselves?  Torture -- for them AND for me.  So yeah.

Our plans changed.

I went back to Square One.  You know, the place where you don't know anything about anything?  I was there.  I had to re-evaluate my entire educational philosophy.  Plan A had failed miserably.  It had worked last year.  When I had one student in 1st grade.  But this year, with two students in Kindergarten and 2nd grade?  Tears, whining, moaning, moping, arguing, complaining, bickering... oh my goodness.  You thought I had perfect children?  I sure had you fooled!  Ha!

Epic fail.  What was Plan B going to be?

Charlotte Mason?  Unschooling?  Unit Studies?  Classical education?  I studied, researched, and spent hours poring over so many books and websites, all claiming to be the best, have the best, produce the best.  But what was the best for *us*?

I love textbooks.  They are straightforward.  Read this, answer this, test this, repeat (times 12 times the Number of subjects), graduate.  Isn't that how school is supposed to work?  That is how I learned, and I loved school.  Private school, public school, homeschool, college, I loved it all!  Bring on the school.  I loved the methods, the repetition, the organization -- especially the organization!  Office supply stores make my heart go pitter-patter-pumpernickel.

So I am trying to take my love of learning and the *way* I love to learn (and teach), and combine that with the ways my children love to learn (and their learning styles and modalities, but that is the topic of another epic blog post), and turn it into an education.  The method that is emerging is ending up looking like Eclectic Homeschooling, if there is even a definition for that.  Basically, we are going to try things out and use what works for us.

I know, I know... we've been homeschooling for how long?  4 years?  And I am just now catching on to this?  Supposedly, every homeschool family goes through this.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of doing something different from "everyone else."  Fear of doing something wrong.  I thought that since I had been homeschooled, I would be immune to the fear. I was wrong. 

I am so afraid of doing something "wrong."  Can I just admit that?  But I desperately love my children.  And I *know* my children.  My husband and I know them better than anyone else on this earth.  And that knowledge is what I use to reassure myself that I am truly doing what is best for them.  I am not an ignoramus.  I am a well educated person.  I have my parents to thank for that.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  And because they loved me enough to spend years of their life (and bucket-loads of their money) on my education, I am confident in my teaching skills.  I just have to figure out what method I want to use!

So this is Plan B.  What works for our school in 2011.

English - Horizons Phonics & Reading (see link above).  And reading.  And more reading.  And maybe a little more reading thrown in there, just for kicks.  He'll start math next year, when he can read better by himself.
Character Training - Lessons in Responsibility for Boys
We also talk about math a lot.  The boys both love numbers, so it just naturally comes up in our everyday conversation.

English - Horizons Phonics & Reading (worksheets: see link above).  He reads a ton.  He hides and reads.  You will usually find Griffin behind a chair reading if he isn't answering when you are calling him.  I don't know this from experience or anything.
Math - Life of Fred: Apples (textbook written by a very passionate mathematician) - We have begun using this, and it seems simplistic for a 2nd grader, but it was written for homeschoolers, so that they can go at their own pace.  The child who can't yet remember every single addition and multiplication fact off the top of their head is supposed to start with the first book in the elementary series.  So that's what we did.  We love the story of Fred.  He is a 5-year-old teacher at Kittens University, with a doll named Kingie (who was a prize in a kids' meal at the King of French Fries restaurant, and goes with Fred everywhere).  Fred and Kingie have to use math to figure out the everyday problems they come across, so there is never any asking "Why do I need to know this?"  I believe that Griffin will have finished this book in just a few months if he works on it for 20-30 minutes a day, and then we'll move on to Butterflies, then Cats, then Dogs, then the soon-to-be-published 8 other books in the elementary series.
History - Story of the World: Volume 1 (Classical)   We love reading this together.  I don't think we'll do all of the coloring pages, and we might look over the maps but we might not color on them as they suggest (can you tell my children are not too big into coloring?), but we love reading the history of the world, written in a conversation-like style the kids love.
Science - E-science with Miss Aurora Lipper

Character Training - Lessons in Responsibility for Boys (see link above)

The boys are also both taking piano lessons from me.  We have begun very slowly.  Okay.  Actually, they have had one "book" lesson, and the rest of the time they have just sat down and fiddled around on the keys, with me asking, "Where is Middle C?"  "Show me all of the sets of two black keys."  "Can you find the rest of the C's on the piano?"

We go to karate every Tuesday morning, which they both love.  They are getting better all the time.  Griffin gets to test for his yellow striped belt in November.  I'll make sure to take some pictures.  :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Carody I think you are doing a great job with your children! I am going to check out the Life of Fred stuff and Story of The World. I pulled out the Lesson In Resp.. for the boys again. I may give it another go. It has to be better than me wingin' it right? LOL! Love reading your blog girl! : )