I've spent the past few weeks doing more researching on homeschooling theories and philosophies and have found myself caught up in reading other people's blogs, websites, curriculum ideas, and many, many other homeschooling resource sites. In the end I've felt everything from inspired, to overwhelmed, to excited, to unnecessarily anxious, and finally concluded that there is TOO MUCH information out there for a Mama who just wants to simply homeschool her kids!!
So, I've been learning how to sift through the fluff to get through to the meaningful stuff and I've been learning how to distinguish between authentic programs and money-making schemes, and most importantly learning how to listen to that inner voice which tells me what my children truly need. (motherly intuition, parental instincts, the Holy Spirit, the guiding light, the voice of God, whatever you choose to call it, it speaks truth!)
So I've concluded that the first thing they need is a mother and father who are mindfully present. And since I'm home with them during day I ideally want a mother who makes time to sit down and patiently teach, guide, and direct my children with love. Also, a mother who takes time to pray and communicate with God each day on what she can do to help bless her children's lives through homeschooling them. Lastly, a mother who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty, her hair messy, and have a blast alongside her 3 boys in everything they do.
Second, they need resources. They need to be exposed to options and opportunities! They need a home filled with art supplies, educational books, science gear, fun learning games, and things to stimulate their thinking. My five year old loves doing math worksheets, so we need to provide more worksheets for him to do. They need opportunities to get out of the house and take extracurricular classes, meet with friends, and have active social lives. They need weekly park dates with friends! My seven year old loves karate, so we need to sign him up for classes, etec, etc....
Lastly, they need a little structure in their day. Most things my kids will learn as homeschoolers, will come naturally as we simply live from day to day. For instance they learn geology each time we hike up the river and study rocks, they learn history every time we visit a museum, and they learn math and money everytime we go shopping or play store. However, there are certain skills they will need in life that take specific learning practice like (more) math, reading, writing, and spelling. So, I've concluded that we need to set apart some time each day to work on these things specifically.
This year Z would be in 2nd grade and O would be starting Kindergarten. J is still my adorable little tot that follows everyone around.
I don't have a set schedule set up yet for how much time we'll be spending on the following things, yet ideally I'd like to spend a little formal time each day working with the boys on these subjects:
For Zadok, 2nd grade:
Math: Primary Mathematics 2A, workbook only. Life of Fred Mathematics with the family.
Reading: Starfall.com free phonics program, reading Harry Potter series on his own and with the family, reading Magic Tree House Series with family as daily read-aloud, and weekly picks from the library that he wants to read.
Writing and Spelling: Daily writing practice happens a lot on his own as he likes to write books and make lists, though we'll also be trying out some copywork and dictation from favorite books.
For Odin, Kindergarten:
Math: Singapore Mathematics Activity Book. Life of Fred Mathematics with the family.
Reading: Starfall.com, Magic Tree House daily read-aloud with family, weekly trips to library to pick out books. Working through reading the Bob Books. (Odin does not know how to read, yet, and is just starting to understand how to put sounds together.)
Writing and Spelling: Copywork, Explode the Code workbook
Physical Ed: Tumbling class for Z, Karate class for Z, weekly kickball game and park play with homeschool friends. Swimming with family at rec center once a week. Bike rides with dad. Freeze Tag with Mom. Lots of outdoor activity. (we've got this one covered)
Science: We do most of our science through asking questions about the world that occur through naturally living.... i.e. astronomy, zoology, chemistry, earth science, geology, etc, we learn together through books, cooking, science experiments (great books from the library), and outdoor exploration. Dad is a science teacher and has a lot to offer in this area.
History: Need to do more this year.
Geography: Need to do more this year.Music and Art: No plans. Spontaneous art projects, family jam sessions with the drums, etc. Zadok would like to take guitar lessons in the future.
Typing: Would like to get Zadok learning to type. Any suggestions on a good program let me know!
Technology: The boys are allowed to play 2 hours of computer games a day (if time allows) like Minecraft, Wizard 101, Cool Math Games, PBS Kids, or Starfall Games. I feel that it's important for my kids to learn how to operate and navigate their way on the computer. I'm 100% sure that they'll need it in life! We teach them about Internet safety and make sure they are always on safe websites, with an adult always present when the computers are on.
Religion and Spirituality:
Our family does a morning scripture study each day after breakfast. It's important for us to start the day with family prayer and uplifting scriptures. This is something that sets the tone for the rest of the day for me. We either read from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or from the LDS scripture picture story books. We also sing hymns and primary songs that invite the spirit of God into our home. This always promotes meaningful discussions and questions from the boys about the gospel. We try to incorporate everything we learn in life to the gospel of Christ because for us, it all goes together beautifully.
I'm excited for the upcoming school-year. Since Micah is a school teacher it makes sense for us to follow a schedule that fits his schedule. So, when school is out, we will be off playing, leaving any formal education behind us as well. I'm excited for the upcoming year and all the joy, blessings, growth, and stretching we'll do together as a homeschooling family!
Websites that inspire:
Simple Homeschool -Intentional homeschooling tips and inspiration
Still Parenting -(Waldorf/Montessori focus)
Leaping From the Box -Homeschooling and Unschooling resources
Radical Unschooling--Sandra Dodd's sight
Power of Moms-A Gathering Place for Deliberate Mothers (Not specifically homeschooling but it sure is full of daily inspiration!)