Pre-Homeschooling?

Since DD1 has been about 6 months old, DH and I have been considering homeschooling. The reasons are many, and should probably make the focus of a post of their own. However, I think I can confidently say that, at this point, this is the route that we have decided to follow.

Then I learn that a good friend of mine, who also happens to be my back door neighbour, and who has a daughter just a few months older than Miss A, is also considering homeschooling. And the girls get along GREAT together (as much as 2 yrs olds do)! So we started doing some research together.

And boy – is there ever options out there! From radical unschooling to highly structured through pre-made curriculum homeschooling, with a mix of both in between – and not to mention all the different philosophies, from Charlotte Mason to Waldorf to a little bit of nothing… How’s one to choose??

I have to admit, I’m not sure exactly what I what to do for my homeschool yet. I’m partial to the Sonlight curriculum, because I’ve only heard great things about it and it has a focus on books, but I’m sure there are other great ones out there too. And anyway, I will have to find add ons for Canadian content. And do I really want to buy an expensive and structured curriculum, or do I want to go based on my child’s interest and get books as we go? Or perhaps I want to just simply unschool

But sometimes too much research is like not enough: you just get lost, and you never make any decisions. Sometimes, in my opinion anyway, it’s best to jump in, try something, and tweak it as you go. I’m still researching options, recording ideas, government requirements (it’s legal in our province and you don’t have to do much of anything actually, in terms of declaring & recording, as far as I’ve found), organization, how to proceed, etc. But, I’ve decided to try out some things too, along with my neighbour.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not teaching my 22 mo. If anything’s for sure, it’s that I don’t believe in early academia for the sake of early academia – unless it’s really and truly the toddler’s interest to do alphabet flashcards, penmanship and early math all day. And I think all learning should be child-led (which taps into my reasons for choosing homeschooling versus the school system – there is just more opportunities for that in the one-on-one setting of homeschooling than there is in the overflowed classrooms). What we’re doing is more for the sake of us adults, to try out some organization & recording thing, and how we can plan lapbooks and unit studies. For the kids – crafts, day trips, playtime, colouring… things we would do ANYWAY, whether they’d be attached to a “theme” or not πŸ˜‰ My neighbour found some great activities based on farms and gardening – which is quite timely for spring and summer. We have great local farms in the area to visit, which most families do once or twice in the season, and lots and lots of trails for nature walk, which I love to take advantage of.

Farm lapbook - Barn

So, today, we started our farm lapbooks! We made barns out of construction paper, and glued it inside a folded-up folder. I mostly did that part πŸ˜‰ Then came the decorating part with stickers – THAT Miss A was all over! Watch out with her when stickers are around πŸ™‚ We also read a book about barn animals (the girls had a blast making all the sounds), and sang Old MacDonald using the felt board. Then the girls free played while we picked up πŸ˜‰

I printed out some of the farm activities we found online for the girls, and started

Activities for Farm lapbook

laminating them with book covers (makes them more sturdy) and cutting them up. But first, I got Ariana to colour her farm flashcards – they turned out quite colourful, as you can see! I will finish these while watching TV tonight and stick them in the lapbook. Speaking of laminating & activities, I also made her a colour sorting game I downloaded from Confessions of a Homeschooler – she’s very into her colours lately.

Paintbrush Matching set

If anything, it will be a great scrapbook souvenir of the summer πŸ™‚ (when life was bliss before the chaos of a younger sibling!)

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10 responses to “Pre-Homeschooling?

  1. I stumbled across this blog through a long chain of mom-related blog posts on going shampoo-free I think… anyway, I just wanted to chime in as a formerly homeschooled current college student. I’ve been to private schools, parochial schools, public school, and I’ve been homeschooled (in fourth, sixth, seventh, and the first half of eighth grade). For me, homeschooling was a wonderful way to avoid several icky grades, and I was able to pursue a lot of interests that I wouldn’t have been able to had I been in a traditional school. The biggest thing I got out of homeschooling was a work ethic: my parents both worked at home at least part-time (my dad full-time) and both are or have been teachers, so I got an interesting mix of business and educational value out of my time. My dad taught me his computer skills and had me helping out with his job when I was just 9, and that gave me a sense of accomplishment as well as an understanding of money management and responsibility.

    The most common criticism I hear about homeschooling, from peers and adults alike, is that homeschoolers can’t possibly be getting proper socialization. Of course, I wasn’t always at home while I was homeschooling–I did some volunteer work in an old folks’ home, did odd jobs in the neighborhood, babysat when I was old enough–and I ended up interacting with a bunch of people older and wiser than me (and others younger and better-tempered).

    It gets harder to get suitable curriculum as you rise through the grades, because the skills are more specialized. It really depends on the kid, though. I went to high school because I knew I was going to college, and I wanted to make sure I had the education in place to prepare me for that. However, this is many years down the road. Most everything kids learn in preschool and elementary school (and for the most part middle school too) can be picked up fairly easily at home… and with a lot of benefits. Plus, it can really help make a family’s schedule more flexible. In our household, we would “do school” sometimes right through traditional winter and summer breaks, but would then get to take multiple-week trips in the spring when places weren’t so crowded.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks for your insightful reply! You touch on many of the points that make me partial to homeschooling. I am also blessed with my husband working from home – or should I say my daughter is? πŸ™‚ He does, of course, work, but he is still at home, everyday.

      And I absolutely agree about the socialization myth. I don’t get it either – when you think about it, it doesn’t make sense anyway. What about before kids enter the school system? They are in an isolated bubble, never seeing anyone, and school is their only hope of ever being in contact with other human beings? Of course not – we go out, we do playgroups, we get together with neighbours, we meet kids at the park – social contact is everywhere, unless your an hermit. Plus, when you are homeschooling, and therefore working with a much smaller student base (depending how many kids you have and their level of independence), you don’t have to sit at a desk for 6-7 hours a day. In fact, in early elementary grades, a few hours a day in the morning (or whenever works best for you) is often enough, leaving kids plenty of time to just be… kids. Another HUGE plus in my decision making. The article on unschooling I link has a nice quote on socialization in fact, and what it actually mean.

      I think however, that whenever something goes against the mainstream culture, it will unfortunately be brought down by others. I’m not saying by this that homeschooling is for everyone – it’s not, and the school system is not a huge disaster & there are great teachers out there. But I do have issues with the system, and I am blessed to have the opportunity to make that decision freely. For me, it feels like a continuation to the attachment parenting & gentle discipline choices I’ve made so far (which also get plenty of critique! Not my choice per say, but the philosophies as a whole). And I highly value our familial bond, and we are basically a stay-at-home/work-at-home family, and I feel that homeschooling is the best way to preserve these and continue what we have going on. I go into this clearly thinking that if, at any point in time, any of my kids decide to go to school, then they will be free to do so. I have a friend who’s mom homeschooled all 5 kids, 3 of which eventually went to high school, and 2 of decided to stay home. The last thing I would want to do is forced my children into any one schooling method – it seems conterproductive πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for your comment!

      • To add to my previous post–it sounds like your family and mine are in a similar position, and I know it’s been (mostly) wonderful to grow up being really close with my parents. I mean, there were times when we were all a little too close–especially while we were renovating our house and really only living out of the two smallest rooms–but overall, we have the kind of relationship where we all WANT to be together, and I think that’s ideal. Strangely enough, I get teased the most by other adults, about how much I’m not a rebellious teenager. That just never appealed to me, because there was/is nothing to rebel against. In being so close to my parents, I was/am part of “the system” so if anything, I’m only going to strive to make it better. I’m really, really fortunate to have parents that made this happen. I won’t attribute it all to homeschooling, because I really only did that for a few years, but I think homeschooling arose as part of this close family unit, and certainly was a huge influence on me.

        • That’s funny – we are currently finishing the basement, so we can move my husband’s office out of the 3rd bedroom and in there (it will be a bit more quiet!), and so the rest of the house is jam packed with everything we had stowed down there πŸ™‚ We still have more space than 2 rooms though – but the clutter, oh I can’t wait for it to be done! heh

          I agree, homeschooling is probably not the one and only factor for close family bonds (a lot of it depends on individual character also), but it certainly helps! When A turned 1, and I was supposed to go back to work, I made the decision to stay home because I didn’t want her to be in someone else’s care for 7 hours a day 4 days a week. I don’t mean that I thought the day care provider would hurt her, but *I* wanted to be the one to raise her, to see her walk, to “teach” her the little joys in life, to colour all day, etc. I didn’t want to rely on a stranger to tell me what she was into lately or what she really enjoys doing. I’m glad our family was able to make that decision – and it just makes sense to extent it to homeschooling too. For siblings too, it helps preserve the bond, and hopefully it will indeed help kids & parents be closer through the years – starting with the “terrible twos” lol! (although she has such a temper already, I tend to doubt much will change πŸ˜› )

  2. Very cool Joe!! Very cool!

    You mentioned you used “book covers” to laminate?? WHere did you book covers? I’ve never heard of that option to laminate…

    • At Staples! You know those transparent self-sticking plastic covering for school manuals? They are the end of the second aisle, the one behind the papers at the very end. It’s a pretty neat trick! πŸ™‚

  3. I’m with you on too much research. The thing is, we can’t know what will work for US until we try it. And all the research in the world can’t tell you that.

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