Featuring Joy & Geoff, Big Brother , Little Brother , Sis , and various household (and outdoor) critters...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Hot Off of the UPS Truck...

Hmm, in between cramming for book club and desperately re-visiting my favourite attachment and parenting books (it's been a little wild around here since the new year), I now have a few new titles to explore:

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School - Rebecca Rupp

Teaching Montessori in the Home: The Pre-School Years - Elizabeth G. Hainstock

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School - Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (as I understand, this is based on the Charlotte Mason philosophy)

The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start - Linda Dobson

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom - Mary Griffith

This is a collection of books recommended on various homeschooling blogs, and by other Amazon purchasers. I'm not making any commitments yet, but figure I can't make an informed decision about the kids' educational path without buying a vast number of books...I mean...doing some research...

(If any of you would like to recommend other books & resources, feel free. I am not sure how confident I am broadcasting to the world that we are considering homeschooling, given some of the strong opinions out there...I will likely, eventually, get around to posting a bit about how we have arrived at this as a possibility for our family - it is certainly something I have contemplated off and on for years. Oh, and if anyone has homeschooled while also working part-time, I'd love to hear how that all worked out).


deborah said...

One book that I found rather interesting was Cathy Duffy's book (can't remember the title). She gives suggestions for types of curriculums for different personality/learning/teaching types. I didn't use her suggestions as gospel, but it's a good way to get a feel for the different types of curriculums - it's a huge world out there. :)

Hi from Ruth! said...

Hah! I KNEW you'd be thinking about it...I remember how interested you were in our h/schooling a couple of years back. I'm smiling at you right now, with pleasure!!

H/schooling is such a huge commitment and, for me, the hardest part without a doubt is that I rarely get away on my own. I've really had to learn this school year to insist on time to prep, and time to get away from everything/everyone at least one evening a week and once on weekends.

I've had lots of doubts over the years, and second-guessed myself lots, but when it comes right down to it, I really don't want to change a thing. I get GREAT time with my kids (quantity and quality) and we're fortunate in that we can make it work in our family.

Until my two youngest came home last June'10, I worked part-time; I worked 1 - 1.5 days/week. THe biggest issue for me was coordinating child care (I had a variable client schedule every week so my child care arrangements changed weekly). Working part-time is no problem whatsoever re: h/schooling - even now, with my oldest in grade 2, we could easily accomplish in 1/2 hour/day what might take a full day or more in an institutional school. The curriculum demands in these early years are pretty minimal, to be frank. So the rest of the time, we use additional (fun) curriculums and go on field trips and play and get together with friends.

It's a great life for the kids frankly. Just in the past week, we've seen friends 3x, gone sledding 2x, done all of the regular activities (gym class, skating, music class, art class, gymnastics), played in the snow every day, baked, run errands together, and on and on and on. Oh, and we've done school too!

There are a thousand h/school books out there and I haven't found terribly many of them out there to be all that useful. I did like reading John Holt's books for a bit of background (why h/school, the history of schooling, etc) - his books are a little older, but they're probably my favourite in terms of the PHILOSOPHY of why to h/school. You don't need to worry so much about the 'how to' of it - at the age your kids are at, you could buy a few pre-school books to work through, and incorporate lots of fun/learning activities into your week.

For the first while of h/schooling, one tends to worry (too much) about curriculum stuff. There's SO much out there that it's overwhelming, and it's really, really hard to figure out how to actually do it.

(to be continued)

Hi from Ruth! said...

Who knew there was a word limit on comments! Here's the continuation!! Sorry, Joy - so long-winded!!

The single biggest things I've learned in the past 2.5 years are:

* try to attend an annual h/school conference in your area. In addition to speakers and workshops (which can be good or really terrible), the conferences are where a gym full of exhibitors display all of their curriculum materials for sale. I go annually so that I can spend hours looking through curriculum before deciding what to purchase. This has been invaluable for me. Usually these are held in spring of each year (I'll be going again at the end of March).

* though it's really, really hard to BELIEVE in your heart, kids really will progress at their own pace and it's totally not worth getting stressed if one kid can read by 6 and another not until 9. etc etc.

* curriculum is not NEARLY as important as how you live your life - my kids learn so much just by how I respond to situations (even/especially when I respond terribly). Even when it comes to learning curriculum, it goes so much better when I'm not stressing out about how much they're learning (or not) and when I'm willing to work within their abilities and interests. This has gone completely against my nature because I like to check boxes off in terms of what my kids learn. But they ironically seem to learn LESS from me when I'm busy checking off boxes. So complicated.

* most h/schoolers find that it takes 2-3 years to feel competent at h/schooling - it takes a long time to feel your way through those first hard/awkward/insecure years. I'm living testimony of this - this is the first year (I'm in year 3) I feel good about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. And I've learned that most of us are like this. I wish someone had told me at the beginning not to stress out about this...everyone else seems to have it all together and I really struggled with feeling inferior.

* some kind of regular routine/rhythm is important (which I find difficult), but so is taking days/weeks off of school, and so is being flexible and spontaneous during a school day.

* a lot of people who don't h/school will have a LOT of opinions about you if you decide to h/school. And for some reason, lots and lots and lots of people (strangers and family and friends and acquaintances) feel free to comment and ask questions and be intrusive. I get lots of questions/comments, but for sure the most common question relates to whether or not I'm worried that my children will be 'properly' socialized, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. If they only knew my kids!

* if you've got a kid(s) who doesn't want to read by age 7, you've got to be a really inwardly secure person because you KNOW you're going to be judged as a h/schooler by how well your kids can read. But just remember: one of the greatest reasons for h/schooling is so that children can learn at their OWN pace. I can't tell you the number of h/schoolers who've told me that their boys didn't learn to read until 9, 10, 11, or even 12, but that the parents didn't make a big deal of it - and that when the kids' reading started to take off, they were almost instantly great readers and devouring books. The whole idea is to cultivate a LOVE of reading over the long term, not to ensure that they're reading by 6/7/8 to meet with societal expectations. This is a hard one to remember at times.

OK, yikes, I've gone on and on. Sorry!! You have my email, and you're welcome to use it it you have any specific questions/thoughts/etc.

Whether or not you decide to h/school, I think it's awesome that you're thinking about it! It's a big decision, with HUGE life implications (both positive and challenging). For us, it's absolutely the right thing to be doing.

All the best in your research and decision-making.



Claudia said...

oooh, how exciting! Sounds like an interesting haul!