Monday, October 15, 2012

The Unschooled Homeschool

My almost five year old daughter bugged me for the last three months of my pregnancy to go to school. Long ago I had decided to homeschool my children as long as I was able to. So I told her that once baby boy came along, we could talk about maybe starting.

Well, baby boy came at the end of June, I decided to take the month of July to recuperate and then I took the plunge into school. Thankfully while I was pregnant I read a book that helped me as a mom new to homeschooling to find my particular style of teaching. While also showing me how to narrow down the learning style of my child.

I fell into the 'eclectic' and 'unschooling' section. Well, when you're new to homeschooling, those phrases mean very little to you. They did to me.  Yet now I am in the midst of my first semester of homeschooling, and I can clearly see that those two descriptions to my teaching style are very much an accurate appraisal to what I am doing.

See, I tend to look at different curriculums that are available and then pick out what I like and use just that part of it. I don't tend to take an entire curriculum, but pick different ones apart and use those parts that I like best.

For instance, I am using the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons" book to teach my child to read. It is phonics based, and I love it. It works well for me (as a new teacher) and my child (it teaches them t sound words out). Then, I have been using A-Beka phonics-based books to build on what we are already learning in reading.

I make up my own writing lessons (writing letters, numbers and words). I also make up my own Social Studies lessons (i.e. learning about the world around us, our culture, etc).

Our science lessons are partially out of a book called "Science Play" and the rest are from random ideas I've found on Pinterest that support the subjects I'm teaching.

Math is a combination of number games, computer games that work with numbers, and ideas from Pinterest. I have a few math books on teaching time and money, but they are there more for me to gain ideas from, rather than as a strict program to follow.

So you see, I am "eclectic" in that I pull ideas from many different sources to make my own 'version' of school, and I fit in the "unschooled" format because I have a very flexible schedule in which our "school time" fits into. We talk about school stuff on and off all day, but we only have about 5 hrs a week of scheduled "school time".

How did I come up with a lesson plan if I don't follow any specific curriculum? you ask. Well, I sort of feel like I cheated. I went online and searched for a typical course of study for Kindergarten. I looked at what my child should know by the end of her Kindergarten year and worked backwards.  With the end goal in mind I made a plan for her to learn all those things in some semblance of order.

For instance, I knew she should know her numbers at least 1-20. So I gave her a little test to see where she was at in that........she could count to 20 but she couldn't recognize the number 20. So we started from there. We learned to count by looking at the numbers and then we practiced being able to recognize the numbers as individuals, and then we worked on learning the values of each number. It has been going so well too! Already I can see that my child can look at the number 20 and realizes that the number carries a certain value. It is a very cool process to watch.

In general, for my daughter, repetition seems to be very key at this age. We work on something until she gets it and can do it on her own. Then we come back and review it ever week or so. The things she has learned already this school year are so amazing to me.

I feel so empowered to keep going, and teaching, because it has become such a bonding point for the two of us. My teaching style is also very relaxed, it doesn't always feel like 'work', and certainly we play a lot of games that teach what we are learning for that week.

So, when we meet a friend who go to a regular school everyday, my daughter proudly tells them that her mommy is her teacher and we have school at home. I'm so blessed that she has no negative feelings about not going to a regular school, and so we go onward.....together.

Thinking about homeschooling? Not sure where to start? The book I mentioned that helped me to learn my teaching style and my child's learning style is called: 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. I highly recommend it.

Have questions about my crazy schooling style? Post them below and I'll be happy to try and answer them.

Be blessed.

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