Saturday, January 21, 2012

Schooling Confession...

I have a confession to make. After attending the public school system for most of my life (minus my 5 years at Olivet Nazarene University) and teaching in the public schools for 17 years, my husband and I are considering homeschooling. This is something I've not even been open to until recently, but God has opened my heart to the possibility. Ironically all my life, people always told me I would be great at homeschooling. But I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the first thing about early childhood education, but you know what I do know? My kids! So I will blog my thoughts as a way to process this possibility.

I want to begin by saying that I feel blessed to be in a country were homeschooling can be a choice that people can make. As I write out my thoughts here, know that it is my way to brain dump my ideas. I intension is not to speak despairingly of anyone for the choices they make regarding the type of schooling they choose for their children. But I will be writing my thoughts about what I am learning, trying to feel my way through what I believe to be right for me and my family. Please make posts you write be respectful to the choices that I or others may make. I have no idea where this journey will lead us, and that is scary and exhilarating at the same time.

My sister-in law homeschools, as do a few of my friends. My friend Kristy gave me a list that describes the different approaches to homeschooling and that has been very helpful. I asked to come observe Kristy one morning to see how they organize their school time and to talk to her kids. They have four children ranging from 6th grade to 1st grade. In the photo below, their Dad is helping the two older kids with Latin!

Here is Kristy helping her youngest with spelling and handwriting. (The baby is mine!)

Kristy homschools abiding pretty close to the Classical Approach. From what I understand, it allows students to see a complete picture among all the subjects because what the kids are learning is by time period. That is what I really like about this approach. While there is a focus on facts in the early grades (1-4) they do see how the facts connect to one another. I believe this philosophy is based on The Well-Trained Mind. I have read the book (several months ago), and I believe it is something I could do.

I am most scared about these early years. Give me a high school kid any day, (I taught high school biology for 12 years) but teach a kid to read and write? For some reason that is much more daunting to me. But reading The Well-Trained Mind helped me see that I could do it.

The way Kristy organizes the learning for her children, is that each week she fills out a chart for what each child should accomplish each day. So the days of the week are across the top, and the subjects are along the left-hand column. So she will write in the page numbers of what should be completed each day. As the children get older, they help fill out the chart! I love that! If I homeschool, I want to allow my child some feeling of ownership of what he is learning. The OCD in me loved the way Kristy organized school. It felt like school, with everyone working, with rules and consequences posted on the wall. At this phase of homeschooling, Kristy said that she spends a lot of time with the 1st grader, while the others work independently. But she is conscious of spending too much time with one child, and may set a timer for herself to make sure she gets to everyone!

From what I understand, Kristy teaches history lessons 3 days a week. Therefore time would would be designed for all 4 children--a definite plus for this organization. Then what each student would get out of the time, i.e, what each was expected to learn, might be different. Then on Tuesdays and Thursdays Kristy does Science or Art. Now, as a biology teacher, the lack of attention to science concerns me...but I also know that I could organize my school however I wanted.

Here are the resources Kristy gave me:

Rainbow Resource: Place to buy books, crafts, etc... discounted for homeschooling families.
Youcanhomeschool: Legal organization to support parents who homeschool.
My Father's World Curriculum: Christian curriculum.
Saxon: Math Curriculum
A Reason for Handwriting: Handwriting curriculum
Spelling Workout: Modern Curriculum Press
Explode the Code: Phonics program

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