Saturday, May 15, 2010

Our Homeschool Style and Philosophy

To make it simple (if that's even possible), we are eclectic secular homeschoolers.  That just means we're pretty much going to use what we want, when and how we want to use it.  Sometimes we might not use anything at all, and sometimes we might not have a clue what we're going to do.  I try to remain flexible and am always willing to throw out anything that feels like it isn't working.

Learning Styles
Since we've already been after schooling and summer schooling, we already have a knack for the kinds of things the kids like to do.  Ella likes doing worksheets, writing mini-books, and anything artsy.  Harper likes doing anything that looks like what her big sister is doing (she asks to do homework), but she's more of a hands-on kind of kid.  I want to incorporate as many different types of activities as possible, but if something isn't working I know I can always fall back on something that appeals to their need to write or "do" or whatever.  The key, as always, is to work with their natural tendencies instead of against them.

Teaching Style
know I don't want to do school-at-home.  It's what Ella knows and expects, so we may begin this process with a little more structure, but I expect things to change pretty quickly.  Ella is very interested in learning, which makes my job much easier.  In fact, if I leave her alone for long enough, she'll pull out a shark or reptile library book and begin taking notes and copying pictures to tape to the wall.  My job is going to be simple.  My job will be to not squash that enthusiasm with mandated worksheets and drills or rigid schedules.  It might be tough at first, because I do love my checklists and planners.  And it's perfectly fine for me to still have those if they make me feel more secure, but I have to remember that it's also ok to stuff them in a bottom drawer and call an audible (sorry, that probably won't be the last football reference around here) from time to time.

Philosophy (-or- what's important to us)
I love the idea of a gumbo pot of classical education, Charlotte Mason, and unschooling.  There's no how-to-do-it curriculum or book for that to make my life just a tad easier, is there?  Go figure.

My problem is that there are so many things I think are important to teach.  But I know I can't get it all done every day.  We believe history, science, music, and French - subjects often neglected in traditional schools - are important parts of our curriculum.  History because it's Our Story.  Science because we have a scientist in the house.  Music because Ken and I are both musicians and want to share that with the girls.  And French because it's an important part of our Cajun culture.  When I first began reading and planning, I had a bit of a panic attack wondering how I was going to get it all done and still do everything else those books suggested we do.

Then I realized something.  We can do it all.  Just not necessarily the way other people are doing it.  For example, Ella catches on pretty well to math concepts, but it isn't one of her favorite subjects.  If it only takes us five minutes for math, I'm not going to stretch that out because some book recommends sixty minutes for her grade level.  Complicated art lessons may have to wait until the girls are older and instead be more about play dough and watercolors for a while (which is probably what they should be at this age anyway).   Reading, Grammar, Spelling, and writing can all be easily combined.  We plan to incorporate lots of daily reading linked to history studies.  For the rest, copywork, mini-books, and lapbooks can take care of that for now.  We may throw in a grammar workbook here and there, but I'm not stressing about it yet.  It can work, and I'm positive that it will with some clear priorities and a little creative planning.