Tuesday, May 25, 2010
What do you do to homeschool?
This is a question that I have been asked many times lately, mostly in private emails from a message board...and it is one of the hardest questions I have ever answered! You can ask 10 homeschool families this question, and come up with 12 different responses (because some families will have changed what they do for homeschool, lol)! Some are asking because they are just curious, others are seeking information because they are interested in homeschooling themselves.
There are several typical questions that come up with one says they homeschool. The first is "Are you sure that is legal?" The answer is YES. It is absolutely legal in all 50 states. The next question is "Who oversees you?" The answer to this is different for each state, but overwhelmingly, no one. We are independent, and it is our responsibility to make sure our children are getting what we believe they need. The last common question that comes up is "What about socialization?" This is probably my favorite! Socialization is defined as putting an individual with a group in hopes the individual will emulate the group...overwhelmingly, what I see in public school, is NOT what I want my children to behave like - so why would I socialize them with there? The other issue I have with socialization in the government schools is the idea of only socializing with others of your own age...Instead, I choose to socialize my children with a wide variety of people, in many different places, young and old alike, with different ideas and beliefs...all while being with them, able to help them through (thus teaching them) how to respond to different situations.
For us, homeschooling means lots of different things. We do have some time for book work, reading, writing, math, history, science, sewing, Spelling, cooking, appreciation of the arts and music, gardening, Language Arts, PE, Bible, Occupational Education, Social Studies, Health, etc. But we also have lots of hands on projects, sensory activities, field trips and more!
Last week, we played a game to see if we could 'recreate' the same results that happened in history (we did), we also made a boat to float in our pool while studying Christopher Columbus and his journey to the Americas. We made a solar system out of balloons showing the relative size of each planet...then we went outside to show how far apart those planets would be based on the size of the planets! We also had a field trip to the Kangaroo Farm and horseback riding/hippo therapy last week.
Our most important subject at our house is bible. So we do that first, and talk about the importance of not missing it. Normally, during breakfast, we read the 1 Year Bible aloud while everyone is eating. This way, by the time everyone leaves our house, they will have heard the Bible from start to finish many times and hopefully have a good understanding of what it says. We also do a Bible class. Right now, I am waiting on a bible study for the twins on Biblical purity and courtship - I am really looking forward to that! In the meantime, they are helping me with the littles' bible lesson...this week we are talking about Noah. I try to make it relevant and fun. One of the activities we will be doing this week is measuring out just how big the ark was, then playing games in what would have been the inside to show how much work it would have been! (Things like having to bring a pail of water from one end to the other to give water to the animals, using a cup and doing it as a relay race! (BTW, this counts as one of the gross motor activity times - even though we are still doing school work, it is also engaging the gross motor skills.) They also tend to have worksheets and activities associated with the Bible lesson. I try to tie in what we do in Bible to all their other activities as well. We also work on a memorization passage. Right now, we are memorizing Ephesians Ch. 6. Children learn best through play, so we try to capitalize on this as much as possible. Since we will be setting up our sensory table with water this week, we will put in a boat and some animals so they can act out the story of Noah and the ark while playing there. One day this week, Ashley and Brianna will tell the story with the felt board to the rest of the group. Another day, we will talk about how tall the mountains are, and how much water it would take to fill all the earth...and how amazing God is that He could do that! We try to make and keep learning FUN, because THAT is how these things will be remembered.
Besides all of this, homeschooling for us includes time for Callie to do her physical therapy (if it wasn't on the schedule, it wouldn't actually get done!)...so while I have people working independently, I have time to work one on one with Callie. Later in the day, the twins work with her again.
After each 40 minutes or so of school (1-2 subjects, for the younger ones, I try to make one of them more fun...like playing with a preschool learning activity, at the bean table or with shaving cream on the table!), we have a time of gross motor play. I try to utilize the most current brain development research in our day - which means gross motor activities help reset concentration, build coordination, help to add more pathways joining the 2 hemispheres of the brain, making concentration and comprehension easier and increases blood flow and oxygen absorption to the brain. After we come back in from one of these gross motor activity sessions, I do something that requires more concentration...either a new concept in math, or reading lesson, or whatever needs more focus for that day. Today the twins are learning about division and working more on memorizing their multiplication facts after our next break. Right now they are reading before we go outside to play ball.
I also try to get as much school done as possible while Justice is napping - it is just easier to not have him in the classroom - especially now that he is crawling, pulling up to standing and cruising! He is always trying to get to the bean table now, lol! (Which means today is the last day of the bean table - fortunately, the weather is getting nice, so we will be emptying it today and bringing it outside to fill with water for the summer! By fall, when we fill it with rice or dry pasta, he will be able to refrain from eating it! And in the meantime, he can definitely play in the water!)
I try to get all my correcting and grading done right after each lesson - I want to know if they are understanding something, and if they are not, we stop and talk about it. If they do understand it, we are able to move on with confidence that they are ready for the next step.
After the 2nd gross motor break (and a kefir smoothie snack), we do History/Science/Geography/Music/Art/Etc, depending on the day. It is whatever school is being done together that day. Today is Tuesday, so we will have an art project. Today's project: painting with foam animals to tie into what we are doing in Bible. It gives me another opportunity to talk about all the animals God made, and also gives them a sensory project while doing their art! Then we will get in Language Arts (probably in part combined with the art project as most of it is oral stuff, and save the writing for a little later). This shouldn't take too long, so we plan to go downstairs after this for some Messianic Dance practice (our 3rd gross motor break - and a wonderful way to Worship our Lord together!). I will get the twins started with their writing which today is from their Language Arts. While they are doing their writing, I will play a game with the little girls, looks like Hi Ho Cherrio (again - we have played a lot of that lately!). Then the little girls get to choose a project of from the many school activities I have, while I play a game with the twins, looks like they have chosen Sorry for today to finish up their school day (this will be a nice change from Qwirkle!).
Then everyone will be ready for lunch! After lunch, Brianna has made a physical therapy obstacle course for Callie. We try to get her to move her body in, out, over, around, and under different things to challenger her physically. All the girls go through the obstacle course, which encourages Callie to stick with it. Brianna is excited to show the course she made to her sisters! After that, we are at nap time!
Coming up this week...we will be taking a field trip to The Imagine Children's Museum, Callie has physical therapy and we will be going for horse back riding and hippo therapy, more projects, and lots more fun! The pictures were from random things that I was able to capture today - most of our school time, is spent with me working with someone 1:1 or giving instructions...not much time for taking pictures!
I love that my children enjoy school and learning! I love that I get to be with them each and every day throughout all of their various activities and discoveries. I am so excited as I get to watch them grow and make new discoveries about the world around us and our Amazing Creator! I have such a blessed life!