How Will We Begin?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my goals and expectations for homeschooling. I actually spent some time coming up with a schedule that alloted a specific amount of time for math, reading and writing each day as well as an hour for theme studies (social studies 2x a week and science 2x a week), nature walks, and picture studies (Charlotte Mason approach to fine arts). Looking back on it, I realized it was too constrictive and would take away from what was most desirable about homeschooling, flexibility.

Through my research, I have discovered that there are probably as many different approaches and styles to homeschooling, as there are those that choose to undertake the responsibility themselves. In other words, I know that I can do whatever works for us and that what we do will most assuredly evolve and change over time. As a teacher, it will be difficult to change my approach… difficult to not schedule specific time for each subject.

However, I know that we all learn best when we are hungry for knowledge… when something has excited us and we want to know more. I’ve therefore decided to let my children lead the way… while I sprinkle the 3Rs daily.

I am very intrigued by the Charlotte Mason philosophy. While some of her ideas don’t necessarily fit with our lifestyle, we already incorporate others. Some of her ideas that I will be integrating into our studies include:

NARRATION
Narration is the process of telling back what has been learned or read. Narrations are usually done orally, but as the child grows older (around age 12) and his writing skills increase, the narrations can be written as well. Narration can also be accomplished creatively: painting, drawing, sculpting, play-acting, etc. I definately want to do more of this… so frequently when I finish a story or book, I close it and set it aside. I am now going to make a more conscious effort to ask the kiddos to give me a narration of what they have heard.

NATURE WALKS & NOTEBOOKS
In spite of often rainy, inclement weather, we will go out once-a-week for an official Nature Walk, allowing the children to experience and observe the natural environment firsthand. We will each have a notebook or artist sketchbook in which we may draw plants, wildlife or any other natural object found in its natural setting. These nature journals can also include nature-related poetry, prose, detailed descriptions, weather notes, Latin names, etc.

DAILY WALKS
In addition to the weekly Nature Walks, we will continue to take our daily walk in the evening with Daddy for fun and fresh air, no matter what the weather.

ART APPRECIATION/PICTURE STUDY
Bring the child into direct contact with the best art. Choose one artist at a time; six paintings per artist; study one painting per week. Allow the child to look at the work of art intently for a period of time (maybe five minutes). Have her take in every detail. Then take the picture away and have her narrate (tell back) what she’s seen in the picture. I love this! I never had the opportunity to study art (with the exception of one art class I took in high school).

JOURNALING
There’s great value in keeping a personal journal, encouraging reflection and descriptive writing. Record activities, thoughts and feelings, favorite sayings, personal mottoes, favorite poems, etc.Couldn’t agree more… why else would I be blogging? 🙂

COPYWORK & DICTATION
Daily copywork provides on-going practice for handwriting, spelling, grammar, etc. Keep a notebook specifically for copying noteworthy poems, prose, quotes, etc. Especially for the younger kids, it is a great way to practice writing without having to do tedious pages of a single letter. A great resource I was introduced to by a homeschooling friend is Draw Write Now. DD has already done 2 pages! After reading the book Stellaluna, I asked if she would like to do the page about bats and she jumped up with enthusiasm! The next day, she asked if she could do one at bedtime rather than color in her color books (as she usually does at bedtime).

BOOK OF THE CENTURIES
A Book of the Centuries is a glorified homemade timeline; usually a notebook containing one or two pages per century. As children learn historical facts, they make notes in their book on the appropriate century’s page about famous people, important events, inventions, wars, battles, etc. I love this idea, too! Even if I choose to later enroll my children in public school, I know this is something we will continue to do as it will enable them to see the big picture and see how events impact one another.

FREE-TIME HANDICRAFTS
My hope is to finish daily academics in the morning, allowing the afternoon hours for free time to pursue crafts and other leisure activities or areas of personal interest. Of course, some academics will also take place in the evening as we enjoy reading aloud to the children or sharing stories of our childhood with them before they go to sleep. This is important for DDs favorite activity is doing craft projects and if you recall, “Scrapbooking, Knitting, Stitching and Painting” are the things she wants to learn most.

We’ve Decided to Homeschool!

We’ve begun a new journey. We’ve decided to homeschool. We’ve basically been doing just that since the children were born. The only difference now is that I will approach it more formally. This blog will serve as a place to share our daily endeavors with you (family, friends, fellow homeschoolers and others interested in knowing more).

We’ve been spending a little time getting things organized around the house… purging our craft supplies, taking inventory of what we have on hand already and making note of what we’ll need to purchase (book shelves!!), setting up our ‘classroom and library’ in the den, and discussing our goals for the year.

I sat down with DD yesterday afternoon and asked her what things she was curious about (I have an idea but wanted to hear her verbalize her thoughts)… what direction she might like to go. This was her response:

* scrapbooking
* painting
* knitting
* stitching (embroidery and quilting)

So cute! She just loves anything to do with arts & crafts and spends hours coloring, stitching, and creating scrapbook pages with the materials I’ve given her.

She recently discovered a caterpillar in our backyard that has since pupated. She enjoyed identifying it in a field guide and then creating a watercolor painting. So with a little prodding… we’ve decided to start this first year homeschooling experiment with butterflies and folktales. We’ll see where that takes us. 🙂

As I have browsed other homeschooling blogs, I discovered that many have official names for their school. I like this idea and opened a dialogue with my daughter to come up with a name of our own. As we’ve been talking about the school, I’ve explained that we would all be learning and that we would all be teaching – sharing in the adventure. With this, she came up with Family School.

I then read off a few names of preschools from our phone book and she locked onto one that she adored. I explained that we didn’t want to have the same name as another school, that we wanted to be different. I made a suggestion that kept the key word, stars, but was unique to us; Twinkling Stars Family School. She loved it!