A New Way to See Homeschool

051Up until recently when Little turned 4, “homeschool” here simply meant a designated time of day when we’d stop playing, turn the TV off and read together or play an “educational” game or activity. I didn’t push it and didn’t structure it like school because he was only three. Since he’s four now, I decided to add more structure to our school time in preparation for preschool.

For a very long time, homeschooling simply meant {to most} that you just do “school” at home. You’d get your little desks, your text books or worksheets, and you would re-enact public school in your own home. As homeschooling has grown as a movement, so have curriculum choices, teaching techniques, and different angles. There are literally hundreds of different ways now to homeschool!

Where I Began

After I had the first spark of interest in homeschooling, I remember having waves of panic along with it. Images of the Duggars {no offense to this sweet family, but they are SO not us} in their matching Little House dresses gave me hot flashes of fear.

People would ask {some kindly, some defensively} why we were homeschooling, and in the beginning, I couldn’t explain it. That’s pretty insane, isn’t it? To make a huge life choice like that and have no explanation for it? Yeah. It’s crazy. But I honestly didn’t have a reason at first! Since then, my reasoning has taken shape, and I know it will continue to take form as we get deeper and deeper in this.

One of the most important things that has happened in my educational paradigm shift is this: I know why I want to homeschool. And it’s very simple.

I want to do everything in my power to make learning FUN for our kid{s}.

Too simplistic? Maybe. But realizing that this was the number one reason why I chose homeschooling gave me so much momentum in choosing curriculum and teaching styles! I finally understood what my aim was in homeschooling, and it narrowed down the teaching styles for me dramatically.

I know, I know. I wrote a blog post a while back about why we picked homeschooling. So pretend this is an amendment to that post, okay? {And you know what? That’s OKAY! That happens in homeschooling. Just as your parenting or discipline styles might change, so does your homeschooling goal.}

Since I figured out that I mainly want learning to be fun and to create a lifelong love of learning, I started thinking about different things that tend to squash out a kid’s love of learning as they grow up. Worksheets? Check. State tests? Check. Forced reading material? Check. Text books? Check. From that, I realized that the classical teaching method was NOT for us. Some people love it, and that’s totally fine, but it didn’t add to my homeschooling goals, so it didn’t make the cut.

Ah-Ha Moments

I landed on the fabulous blog Simple Homeschool a couple of months ago, and it has honestly changed my entire perspective on homeschooling! For the longest time, I tried so hard to manage my time and structure our days in the only way I knew how: Based on public school schedules. In my head, homeschooling meant working from 8 to 4 at home, focusing on the same core subjects that a child would learn in school. When I couldn’t even fill 2 straight hours, I panicked. I even questioned whether or not I should be homeschooling. But you know what I’ve learned?

Doing school at home means you are choosing something different. So it’s GOING to look different.

Duh, right? Not so much for me. This concept was so difficult for me to grasp. The first big ah-ha moment I had this year was that I valued the quality of the lesson over the amount of time spent on it. What this meant to me was that we may only spend ten minutes in the morning working on counting skills using fun songs, manipulatives, and finger games, but it doesn’t matter that it was only ten minutes. What matters is how well he grasped the concept after those ten minutes.

And the beauty of homeschool means that if we had a successful morning with one lesson in particular, I can go back to it later in the afternoon if we have the time to do so! So if he’s really mastering pre-writing activities and I have some time to fill while preparing lunch, instead of turning on the TV, I can sit him down with more pre-writing activities and let him work on those some more.

Charlotte Mason was a big believer in short, focused lessons to help children master them in small bites. I love this concept. Instead of dragging out something for a full hour simply because 15 minutes doesn’t feel like nearly enough time, why not make the absolute most of the 15 minutes when you know you have their undivided attention and have an amazing lesson? With the shorter time spent on each activity, kids walk away feeling accomplished and you can end each “lesson” on a positive note rather than drilling a concept until they’re bored or frustrated.

What Matters to Me

I know that I definitely want Little to have a well-rounded education, but for right now, I needed a little help knowing exactly where to focus my time and attention. I sat down and made a list of the things I want him to establish a great appreciation for in this year, and really it narrowed down into three main things:

  1. A love for reading and books.
  2. A love of science and fascination with nature.
  3. An appreciation for music.

It occurred to me that if we could accomplish these three main goals in his first year of “school,” all other subjects would then follow after. From his love of reading and books comes learning to read and write. From his love of science comes thinking and comprehension skills, appreciation for art, problem solving, etc. And from a love of music comes math, problem solving skills, focus, attention, etc. Above all of that, I provide him with a learning-rich environment and the opportunity to play with skill-based toys as much as possible. At his age, he needs to play more than anything else, so we do a LOT of that.

As my understanding of all that homeschooling can be changes and grows, I know that Little will continue to benefit from it. Of course because I do have a touch of traditionalism in me, we will occasionally pull out letter or number worksheets on days when I don’t know what else to do. That’s fine with me, because it’s done so rarely that he thinks the worksheets are fun. And sometimes they are!

I hated the idea of being an eclectic teacher and not using any one structured form of curriculum, but as I grow in my confidence as a homeschooler, I’m also growing in my understanding that learning is a vast and wonderful experience and to limit it to one specific type of curriculum or teaching angle is restrictive to the student.

I’m becoming more passionate about our homeschool and I have to tell you, it makes me SO excited when Little comes in during my morning coffee alone-time to impatiently say, “Mama, when is homeschool??” I’ll wrap up this post for now. We have salt paintings to work on!







Filed under Kitchen Table Classroom, Learning at Home

2 responses to “A New Way to See Homeschool

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