Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Defining Our Homeschool (piog)

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 8:56 AM
  • 13 Replies
2 moms liked this
Defining Our Homeschool

I've gotten a lot of questions about our style of homeschool lately. People asking questions about everything from my teaching style, the kids' learning styles, curriculum choices, scheduling, etc. I've evolved over the last decade since we started this adventure. I've learned to let go of my death grip on the reigns. I'm one of those super anal, type A personalities. I like to have everything detailed and written out. I like to have pretty schedules and expectations. But after a time of banging my head against the wall - where I kept trying to fit these expectations and they didn't work, I had to ask myself, WHY? What was the point of the details, schedules, worksheets, etc. What did i REALLY want out of homeschool?

Why were we doing it? I had a miserable experience in public school growing up. I felt like an idiot, a feeling reinforced by my teachers. I was told I would never 'get it' or 'use it' so I should just give up. I finally dropped out of high school my junior year. I did a home study course to complete the credits needed for my diploma then signed up for a community college - because it was kinda expected. I became gravely ill my first semester of college. I spent the next two years in and out of the hospital. This was long before online learning, but I got special dispensation from the dean to allow me to continue my classes even though I couldn't always make it to the actual lectures. After 2 years I had earned my associates degree. Learning was fun and a distraction from my illness, so I transferred to a 4 year university. While transferring I had a councilor ask me what I wanted to major in. After reviewing my transcripts she recommended math or science. I explained that I wasn't smart enough for that. She looked like I was crazy and pointed out that I had taken every math & science class offered at my previous college and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I finally realized that by taking the classroom and teacher out of the equation, I was able to learn in the manner I needed. So when my kids were born, I didn't want them to grow up thinking they were stupid just because they might not learn from a classroom setting. So that was the main reason for HS. My other reason was peer pressure and self esteem. I wanted my kids to have developed a solid sense of self and high self-esteem BEFORE being faced with peer pressure. That way they would be strong enough to not get caught doing something stupid or harmful.

With these are my reasons for HS I realized none of it was being supplied by my crazy schedule/curriculums. I didn't care if they could spout a million memorized facts w/ little to no understanding of what they were spouting. I wanted my kids to LEARN HOW TO LEARN - this means understanding how their minds work, how to absorb and translate information, and (most importantly) where to look for information. So I started following a more child led style. We do a formal co-operative once per week. So we do 1x/week of formal schooling. That is the day we introduce new materials, break open the books, do lapbooks, etc. During the rest of the week we have no tv/video games between the hours of 10am and 3pm. During this time the kids are encouraged to learn. Whether using computer programs, the Ipad, books, etc.

You see, I TALK with my kids. I try to determine what they are interested in learning - dinosaurs, computer programming, etc. Then I find a ton of resources from a ton of different styles. The kids are then free to choose what they wish to use. Using this technique has turned my kids from reluctant learners to excited and engaged learners! They watch documentaries, they build thing, they do experiments, they write stories and have even learned how to program their own video games. If in order to build the best catapult they realize they need to understand logarithms then they learn how to do them! Much of what they do is college level things. We don't have spelling lists, nor do we chant multiplication facts. But through practical application they have learned to do both!

So we are child-led eclectic homeschoolers - and proud of it!!

Curriculum -

When it comes to exactly what that means....hmmm. Well I love technology. With my oldest being on the Autism spectrum, he's a visual learner. He gets high levels of anxiety with lots of worksheets and handwriting. So I had to throw out my ideal way of learning. I found my favorite websites and incorporated technology - which inspires him. We have 4 parts of school/curriculum - Ipad Apps, Computer Programs, Documentaries/Podcasts, Co-operatives & Writing.

Ipad Apps -
I love our Ipad. It has completely revolutionized our school. New Apps come out almost weekly, and most are free or else less than $5. This is really the bulk of our school. There are 2 parts we use -
Itunes Apps - these are regular independent apps put together by individuals or companies. Some of our favorites are the following -
Khan Academy - these are short video clips on math. It introduces new ideas and concepts.
Splash Math - This comes in different grade levels. It seems like a video game, but it doesn't introduce concepts so we use it in conjunction with Khan.
Minds of Math - This is a history of Math which is fun.
Sciences -- Painless Earth Science, Side Stax, Circuits, Science Fun To Go, TED (great podcasts)
Brain Pop - this is a fun program that changes daily, so it has themes of the day from history to geography all different subjects.
Rock Prodigy - this is an awesome app for learning to play guitar. You plug in your ear buds and the ipad picks up on the sound of you playing so it can tell if you are doing it right!! My youngest loves hearing himself play.
Irish Fiddle - my oldest is using this to learn to play the Violin
Move The Turtle - This is an intro to Robotics/Computer programming. There is a turtle on the screen and the student learns to program the turtle to follow different commands.
Freefall Spelling
Language Arts - Itooch English, Toon Tastic (this is a story board app), Painless Grammar.
Tap Typing
Barefoot Atlas - this is an amazing interactive world atlas with locations, tourist spots in a 3-d map, and the student can tap on anything and it will give an interactive lesson on it.
Itunes U - This is an app that has access from many different universities and school districts. You can sign up for an independent e-class. FREE! Or you can order textbooks (which are not free..lol). Right now my oldest's favorite eclass is ALICE which is a computer programming interface designed by Columbia University. You take the free eclass, and download the Free program on the computer and voila, you can learn programming! My son just finished programming his first video game - of a biplane racing a star ship on Mars!

Computer Programs - we use these to mix things up a bit. Not often, but we only have one Ipad, so while one child is on the ipad the other can use the computer. Programs like theheadoftheclass.com MEP (when they were younger we loved time4learning.com)

Documentaries/Podcasts - (ie. Netflix) This is worth it's weight in gold, IMO. Especially w/ my visual learner. We watch documentaries on geography, history, science, etc. Then the kids often set out to make models or experiments on what they learned.

Co-operatives - we do co-operative school once or twice a week for 12 weeks (2 semesters a year). Our co-ops are pretty serious endeavors. There are some fun classes like theatre and dancing, but we also have serious classes like Latin, Writing, Science, etc. We LOVE Co-op!!

Writing - I could never get my kids to cooperate with penmanship worksheets. It was torture. So we started journaling and writing stories. They would do different editions while we would helpfully critique their work. This helped work spelling, grammar and penmanship.

Scheduling

We often shock people with our schedule, or seeming lack of one. I used to design very detailed curriculums and we would do everything on them, but it was boring and torturous for all involved. My kids would read my anxiety as I panicked to try and get everything in. Ugh! So now we do a much more relaxed schedule, and the kids are flying through the work!

Since we do co-op once/week, I keep it to a once/week learning day. When we are not doing co-op then I'll use Tuesdays (co-op day) to introduce new information, work on a project, etc. This is a day where I'll actually teach lessons. The rest of the week (7 days a week) there is no tv or video games between the hours of 10 and 3 unless it's a program for educational purposes. During this time the kids are encouraged to learn - on their own mostly unless they ask for help/input. You see I talk with my kids a lot, finding out what they are interested in learning, Then I find a ton of resources - books, computer programs, experiment kits, etc. Then during these quiet periods each day the kids tend to grab at these resources and set out learning. Because it is based on what they were interested in, they are eager to delve in. With little to no encouragement from me, they LOVE to learn.

 One thing this has made me realize? When I was in school the fun was extracted from learning - especially with all the repetition and busy work. Plus they have to stick to a specific curriculum, so kids are not encouraged to explore and learn anything they want. See, I would have thought that w/o the strict schedule kids would just not learn anything, but the opposite is true because my kids think learning is FUN!

We school year round. So that we can take a day or two off whenever the mood strikes us.

So that's us in a nutshell. Hope that cleared up all your questions!
Shannon
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 8:56 AM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
KickButtMama
by Shannon on Apr. 30, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Bump. ;)
1Redapple
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM

I'm reved up and ready to tackle the school day! thank you very much.  I enjoyed readxing your post so much.

Question,  Is an ipad touch close enough to being an ipad, if I cannot buy an ipad now? My DD would love to use that all day long. She is currently being disciplined for haveing used it w/out permission.  My DH has the ipad touch.


April
annasew
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 12:08 PM
1 mom liked this

My kids go to public school.  However when they get home we do 2 hrs of learning.  That is when we explore the things they are interested in more in depth or even learn about things they do not teach in school.   I get ragged on a bunch about it.  Some parents expect the school to teach thier kids everything but the schools dont teach them half as much as they need to know.   It is up to us as parents, wether we homeschool or not, to teach our children what they need to know for thier future.   

KickButtMama
by Shannon on Apr. 30, 2012 at 12:52 PM
1 mom liked this
Quoting 1Redapple:

I'm reved up and ready to tackle the school day! thank you very much.  I enjoyed readxing your post so much.

Question,  Is an ipad touch close enough to being an ipad, if I cannot buy an ipad now? My DD would love to use that all day long. She is currently being disciplined for haveing used it w/out permission.  My DH has the ipad touch.




I believe many apps are available on the ipod touch, it is just a wider variety that is offered on the ipad. So i'd start investigating those offered on the ipod, same advice for those w/ tablets. We asked for gift cards from all our family and friends for Yule - that's how we afforded ours. We chose to go w/ the mega expensive ipad simply due to the wider variety of apps available.

Ask me how you can make money sitting on your couch enjoy books with your children! It's the most amazing opportunity I've ever seen!!    Home Educators Toolbox  / Articles / Kicbuttmama's Crazy Lapbooks / Kickbuttmama's Home Education / The Usborne Learning Fairy


Albert Einstein -- 
   "Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid." 

Mrs.Kg8500
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Bump
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
MrsHubler
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 1:15 PM

This is awesome!

mamatina281
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 2:35 PM

wow, love it sounds like you've got it figured out. And love how you took note on your own neg. experience and made it better for your children.  you are inspiring!  and encouraging!

KickButtMama
by Shannon on Apr. 30, 2012 at 3:08 PM
Thanks ladies! It felt good get it all out on paper (so to speak)
Boobah
by Nikki :) on Apr. 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM
What an awesome run down :)
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
cthemoon
by on Apr. 30, 2012 at 6:23 PM

ok, I swear, I am not stalking you!

I just saw you on the thread with the 2nd graders homework:) added you:) then I clicked a topic and found this post. We are much alike in our thinking:)

Well said:)

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)