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I’ve been partially homeschooling Lily (and, by default, Emmaline) in the bus for all of two and a half days now, so I’m totally an expert on this.
Since running around willy nilly trying to get things around here into SOME semblance of order to provide at least a semi-adequate kind of learning environment for my children has been what’s prevented me from posting this week, I figured I’d give you all a run down of what that looks like (after I shoved great swaths of miscellany out of the way in order to take neatish pictures – just so we’re clear).
One of the advantages of the current hybrid program we’re involved with in our local charter school is that they handle all of the science teaching while the parents do all of the history teaching. Since science as a subject in general requires having a lot more stuff on hand, I’m calling this a win for now. We are pretty “stuffed out” on this end.
Case in point:
In one of the Ikea bins under the futon I’m storing manipulatives (pictured: Do-a-Dot Markers, play money, Addition Wrap-Up, base ten blocks, rhyming cards, addition and subtraction flash cards) and books and workbooks that I either rarely use or don’t use yet (pictured: Sing Spell Read Write “On Track” Kindergarten Workbook, Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto).
Some of these resources have been provided by the school (the learning wrap ups, flash cards and SSRW curriculum), but most of them I have picked up on my own or have been given by friends. Some we use often (my girls adore the Do-a-Dot markers) and some we rarely or ever use (flashcards come immediately to mind).
On the shelf above the futon I am storing library books (left), binders, notebooks, maps, card games, CDs and folders (mislabeled bin the center) and workbooks and schoolbooks that we are currently using (right).
All of our craft items (markers, paints, craft sticks, felt, googly eyes, construction paper, extra glue, tape and scissors, etc) are out in our storage pod in this handy dandy organizing cart (here’s a ten-drawer one as well):
Most of the girls’ work is done at the the desk or on the computer (we have since added two stools that the girls sit on – they don’t have to stand to do their work, I promise):
Three days a week our day consists mainly of me getting the girls’ set up with independent activities and trying to occupy Finn so he’s not climbing up and completely destroying everything that they’re working on while simultaneously answering questions that either of them have.
Emmaline is currently working through Lily’s old SSRW workbooks that went mostly unused last year. She is in love with cutting and pasting pictures that match the letter sounds, so I pretty much just let her do that to her heart’s content:
I’m a bit more up in the air with Lily’s school work.
(Warning: diatribe ahead)
It probably requires its own, separate post, but in a nutshell: I am at this odd place where my homeschooling philosophy leans a lot more toward unschooling – basically a child-led learning style that allows kids to explore their own interests at a pace and variety of their own choosing, instead of disconnected and arbitrary curricum that is mandated by someone else.
In the early years that looks a lot less like sitting at a desk and learning how to summarize a plot and more like developing skills through play.
I believe that many of the things that schools spend so much time and effort trying to “teach” children at an early age (such as reading and basic math skills) will develop naturally as kids are involved in a literate, numerate society and family life – I’ve seen evidence of this in my own children again and again. I think that much of the busy work provided by the public school system essentially takes the innate curiosity that children are born with and slowly kills it.
The public charter we’re a part of, while allowing parents a lot of freedom in educating their children how they see fit, is still held to state standards (Common Core, evidence of “work completed” etc.) and so families must meet certain requirements throughout the school year. Lily loves the social aspect of the classroom environment despite the fact that much of the actual work that they’re doing is pretty far below her level (parental brag, but still true).
Ideally, I would completely eschew all the trappings of the traditional schooling environment and allow my children full reign to explore their own interests and follow their curiosity to its maximum potential unfettered by a system that slowly strips the joy and uniqueness out of learning and discovery… but I also want to honor Lily’s desire to stay with her friends and be a part of that world for now. Even if it means completing worksheets that neither one of us enjoy.
So, that’s kind of the crux of my dilemma right now: how to mesh an approach that rejects the traditional schooling environment with… a traditional schooling environment.
I know this isn’t a home schooling blog, but I’m terribly curious to hear other peoples’ thoughts about this. I grew up in traditional public school thinking all home schoolers were weird and unsocialized. It wasn’t until Lily was about three that I started rethinking my stance and, well, now look where we are. I love hearing different perspectives on education and about others’ experiences and beliefs. Let’s discuss?