Thursday, June 10, 2010

School Daze

Wow, three posts in three days...I think I'm getting back on track with this whole blogging thing.

Today's post is all about homeschooling. Sierra is ready for "first grade" (which is really a mash up of first, second and third grades, depending on the subject) and Sedona is ready for some hardcore, strict daily reading lessons. I kid, I kid! Sedona will be doing plenty of arts and crafts and maybe we'll sit down with a BOB Book or two early next year (she does know most of her letters and their sounds, but she's more interested in counting). My biggest internal debate with her is whether or not I should spring for the pre-reader or alphabet BOB sets...we LOVE the regular BOB books, but I haven't see the pre-reader ones in person yet.

Sierra, however, will be doing "real" school, so I have a little more anxiety there. I have no doubt we will start some things, decide they don't work and switch things up. That's not really a problem, but it's just a little daunting to get started. A lot of people who homeschool will state their homeschooling "philosophy". Some people "unschool", some follow a set pre-purchased curriculum, some have a strict schedule they follow and some have set school times, but are flexible with when certain subjects are taught, and some have no schedule at all, just weekly, monthly or yearly (or heck, even lifetime) goals. I don't really have strong opinions on any most of these things. We're starting out with what I think will work best for Sierra and we'll tweak as needed. I figure it's imperative that I take a big ol' piece of humble pie now and prepare myself to have no hesitation or shame in buying different books, teaching differently, or putting her right into school if it turns out that's what she (or in a few years, Sedona) needs. Humble pie is not my favorite dish, but it must be done.

So, to start with...I never intended to have a "homeschool room". I was going to allow school to happen at the kitchen table for the most part, but also provide a desk because sometimes she just wants to be where she can be alone and concentrate. When we got to the house in Montana though, I walked upstairs to what had been called the "loft" and laid eyes on the most perfect space I ever could have imagined for homeschooling. My immediate reaction upon seeing it was "that's the school room". I started unpacking things yesterday and this is what we have so far:

I have a set of workbooks for Sierra to start with for spelling, grammar, science, geography and reading comprehension, plus a Spanish program (we bought the older, "power glide" version and I'm totally NOT sold on it being a good program yet--but we'll be trying it) and a math curriculum. Most of the workbooks are supposed to be done every day, but would only take Sierra 5 or 10 minutes to do. Because she needs A LOT of work on her writing and spelling to catch up to her reading level, she will do spelling and some sort of dictation or copy work every day, but for things like geography and grammar, she will probably cover a week's worth of work in two or three days a week, so she can focus on one thing for a little while and not have it so broken up. My biggest curriculum hang-up at the moment is history. Taking a classical approach to history makes sense to me--you follow history chronologically in blocks of 4 years and each time you start over, you add in more detail. This appeals to me because chronological order just makes sense and I think setting it up in this way will make it easy to teach all my kids at once (down the line, I could have 3 kids studying Greece, but where the youngest might limit their study to tasting hummus and feta and doing an art project, the oldest will be researching and writing a paper on Greek myths). I was all set to buy The Story of the World because I'd heard a lot of good things about it and the activity books looked really neat, but when I got to Amazon and used my trusty skepticism (i.e. I read all the 1 star reviews to see what, specifically, people didn't like about it), I was more than a little worried by the number of history majors going on huge rants about how inaccurate the books are. So I scrapped that idea. I'm going to stick with the classical history idea, but I'm going to do a more "on my own" approach. Instead, I bought the Usborne Prehistoric World and Ancient World books (which I also haven't seen, but I'm impressed with the other Usborne books we have) to give us a timeline and we will fill out the spaces with our own research and activities. I also love the idea of doing a LONG timeline on the wall at kid's eye level, like I read about on Pioneer Woman a little while back. In fact, I love this idea so much, I'm strongly considering buying the Book of Time shown in that post in a year or two (I think a wall time line's better for younger kids than having it in a book) even though I'm not a fan of Sonlight. All those stickers to color and place...oh the kinesthetic and visual learning! I might just buy one for me to do (I also bought and colored these books for fun when I was a teenager). But enough rambling, I think I have a jumping off point for teaching history.

My other hang up is when to start school. Sierra is begging to get started. Part of me wants to make her wait through the summer, but then I remember she's actually been out of school for over 2 months already. Long term, I think it'd be nice to follow a flexible year round schedule--taking several weeks off when someone needs it, but avoiding the three month, retention-killing break of summer. After all, we'll have the flexibility to stop and start whenever it suits our situation. But for this year, it's not really hurting her to miss 4 months straight--she's not forgetting how to read, she's not forgetting how to add, her science and history are still at a level of basic knowledge that she has just soaked up and already adds to every day through her endless questions. My mom has the very valid point that our winters up here will be long and it'd be better to get out of the house all summer and save the schooling for those cold snowy days. I'm thinking getting an earlier start will make it easier to take a break when the baby's born. Also, homeschooling doesn't take the same 7 hour block of the day that regular school would, nor does it have to take place at home. I haven't come up with an answer to my "when to start" question yet, but Sierra sure is wearing me down--it's a little frustrating and just kind of wrong to always been getting on to your kid for sneaking into the workbooks.

1 comment:

Marti Kubena said...

Wow, I'm tired just reading about everything you have to do! It's definitely not for me. I'm amazed at anyone who has the patience to do it. Braden was very attached to me around the age of 3 and it was very evident that he needed to be in a program that involved him getting used to other adults. And now, he gets very tired of being around me all the time during the summer. I don't think he could ever be home schooled. I'm looking forward to working with Anabelle this year before she starts preschool. Honestly, my third pregnancy was so exhausting that I couldn't even make myself do much with her this past year. Luckily, she picks up on things pretty fast and you don't have to "teach" much for her to absorb something.
The school room looks awesome!Good luck with all your decisions. I'm sure it will all fall into place!

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