Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How it All Started

So a big question I get, a lot, is why do you home-school? Sometimes I wonder this myself.  Its not like I woke up one day and said I'm bored guess I'll home-school my kids.  It was more of a process or series of events that lead to Engineering Dad and I making this decision. So f here is how we ended up where we are.

When my first child turned three I began looking at pre-schools.  After all I am an engineer and according to all the mommy magazines it seems like the thing to do is to give your kids the best start in learning by making sure they have all those pre-school classes before they get to kindergarten. As an engineer my brain just seems to want to follow all the steps so that's what I did.  I choose a tuition based pre-school through our local school system, figuring that would have the best program for reading my child for school, since they were the school.  All sound logic right? Well as it turns out, in our case anyway, not so much.

You see I had in my head this idea of what my child would be learning, things like letters and numbers.  That bubble was busted during orientation, before we ever had our first day of classes.  That's the day I learned that three year old's learn shapes and colors.  It didn't matter that my daughter already knew these things that's what they would be learning and I was ok with that.  So I sent my child to a whole year of pre-school in which I came away wondering what she was learning, but figured oh well its just the first year and I enrolled her again the next year.  This year I thought for sure she would learn letters.  After all she would be going to kindergarten the following year.  Well  again I was wrong she learned all the letter sounds and she learned these cute little hand movements for them  and she associated all of them with an animal.  The animals even had names.  But she couldn't recognize the letter A. Well ok maybe the B, since A is in her name and I had taught her to write her name over the summer. So I did what any good engineer does when they feel their project is behind schedule, you work overtime to get it back on track.  In this case we did an hour or two of school at home after we got home from school.  In which we did all those things I thought she should have been doing in school, like letter and number worksheets, matching and counting activities.  My kids loved it too.  That's right kids, my middle child is 15 months younger than my daughter, he was three but couldn't go to school because he wasn't three in time to meet the deadline, however he was ready to learn just as much as his sister.  Added bonus!

So here we were at the point where I was teaching two kids more than the school I was paying money to every month to teach one child. The final factor came though when I helped in my daughter's classroom during Valentine's Day.  The kids started their party day by coloring a place mat.  Nine kids came in scribbled for  few minutes and went off for free play. One child sat and colored by herself  for a half and hour.  Now it could be her engineering blood that won't let her color outside the lines or it could have been that she had learned to concentrate and take her time and complete her picture, but in any case I was impressed that she showed a desire to learn and create over play. So imagine my surprise when the teacher suggested I place her in pre-k the following year, not because she wasn't ready to learn but because she was so small for her age.  That my friends clinched it for me.  My child would not be coming back for another year, I was going to be the teacher because it had become apparent to me that I was the one who cared the most about what my child was learning and making sure she was continually learning.  Now I am not advocating home schooling just because you don't like a teacher or the way schools teach, you have to be committed and want to do it yourself for it to work, and that's what I had learned during my daughters years in pre-school, that I could do this and do it well.

Now I know my experience may have been extreme and I am sure some of you love your children's teachers.  So I am curious what do you love and hate about schools and what would you love to change if you could? Have you ever been frustrated by what they are or aren't learning?


Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning in Our Own Time

I was reminded of one of the joys of homeschooling today by my daughter.  Anna is seven and has wanted to learn to sew all summer.  So to get her started I taught her the beginnings of how to crochet.  This is partly because I need to have a little repair work done to my sewing machine and partly because well Anna is very short for her age and I don't think she could reach the foot pedal and the machine at the same time, so crocheting bought us some time.

It also brought a new challenge because her hands are also so small she had a hard time holding the yarn.  However she was determined and has been practicing with all her heart on chaining stitches.  The best part came today when I looked over and she was wrapping her chain of stitches into a ball.  She must have made three feet of perfect little stitches in her chain.  When she wrapped it up she had a ball about the size of a tennis ball and a huge smile on her face because she realized that she had mastered the first step in learning a new skill.

Which reminded me that on of the joys of homeschooling is seeing your child's hard work and diligence pay off.  It also reminded me that because I home-school I can give them all the time they need to learn the skill. I set the schedule and I can adjust the schedule as needed. So just like it took Anna three months to learn her chain stitch, I learned that we all learn in our own time if given time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

Welcome to my Blog.  I have decided to write this Blog to share our experiences in Homeschooling as we begin to think outside the box. By  thinking outside the box I mean we are going to change the way we homeschool.  We are currently have completed K through 2nd grade with our oldest two children and they have become bored with our current approach.  Since we have to this point used a traditional text book approach I have to agree school is boring. So at the request of the kids we are going to begin our transition to a whole book style of learning, with notebooking and lapbooking projects.

While this may not seem like a big deal to many homeschooling families out there this is a big deal for our family because well both my husband and I are engineers.  Or at least I was till six years ago I walked away from my career to stay home with my children.  For those that  haven't had much interaction with engineers we can be kind of slow to change and we like to have a set approach and see measurable results.   So I have been researching (another thing engineers love) different things we can try.  I then had to convince engineering Dad that its OK if we don't have a workbook.  Which meant answering questions like how do we know they are learning and will they cover everything.  But in the end he agrees that what's the point of homeschooling of we do school just like the public school systems.  So here we are today getting ready to think outside the box and school in a whole new way.  At least for us.  Welcome to our journey.  I hope you check back to see how it goes.