Last year we began our homeschool journey, again. We ditched almost all of the curriculum, changed gears radically and fell in love with learning. I most definitely call 2013-2014 a success, so it should come as no surprise that, with all the back to school hoopla thats taking over the airwaves, facebook feeds and weekly circulars, my reevaluation of this upcoming year is pretty simple. In fact thats my keyword for the year (again). Simplicity is the name of our game.
So simple that I am going to get rid of the little bit of curriculum we bought at the end of last year. We are jumping in with full force, as in curriculum free! There will be no reading curriculum, no math curriculum…nothing but living learning for us! This year will be a continuation of our experiment, because it is an experiment that we tweak according to results, from last year. More Unschooling and more Charlotte Mason, less, no, I suppose a better word is no, no workbooks.
To prepare me for this moment I have done a lot of research. More research than ever before over the past year trying to figure out how people make homeschooling work in real life. I’ve read blogs, participated in multiple Facebook groups and a few forums as well. Here’s what I’ve learned about homeschooling in general.
1) Every family is unique every year. What worked last year may not work this year. What worked for kid #1 may not fit kid #2. Successful homeschooling families learn to roll with the punches and sometimes that means just letting go of things that don’t work, even if they cost lots of money.
2) There are a TON of free or cheap resources out there! Seriously more than I can count! Holy cow, I am always amazed at how much there is on Pinterest, teachers pay teachers, ihomeschool network and many other places. Some of these things are workbooky, some meant for lap books, others are teacher guides, or read a louds, and a few are full curriculums (like MEPs, a completely free math curriculum that rivals Singapore math!). It may take some digging but you can find resources for any and every subject without buying a curriculum…which makes traveling down rabbit holes so much less expensive!
3) There are many technological resources that go unnoticed because people are looking for paper formats. Youtube has SOOOOOOO many (yes, it requires that much of an emphasis) amazing science, history and hands on videos that will blow your mind and foster your child’s interests. Brain Pop is Amazing for all sorts of information. Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime have such a great selection of not only educational cartoons but also documentaries and PBS/BBC specials that are not only fascinating but also highly entertaining (my budding chemist has watched Hunting the Elements about four times in the last few months alone!). We have gone so far as to cancel our cable subscription and rely on those three providers fully (its our opinion and we are not getting paid for it).
4) Homeschoolers don’t spend a lot of time at home. Funny how home is in the name and all, but in reality, we are rarely ever home! In our house Mondays are grocery days (which ends up being a math and health lesson), Tuesdays are PE days and we go to the track (training to run a 1 mile kids fun run in October) as well as lots of fun at the playground, Wednesdays are library days, Thursdays are for Piano lessons and Nature Study, and Fridays are for field trips. Not to mention any class we may sign up for along the way. Granted it’s all totally flexible, but still we have a rhythm to our days, our week, our month and it keeps us all sane.
5) Homeschooling in general is about relationships over stuff. It is time spent fostering good relationships with each other. It is making the time to build or maintain friendships. It is focusing on learning how to love learning. Its about finding your spiritual center and making it a priority in your home (regardless of what religion you practice or if you practice). It is above all rejecting the idea that things make you happy.
In general, no matter what style you eventually settle on, how you school will depend entirely on how your family works. There are so many options out there (school at home, online school, everything prepared and planned out for you curriculum in a box, subject based curriculums that are completely separate, Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, Thomas Jefferson or leadership, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, Project Based, and any hybrid you can think of) and every one of them is as viable as the next as long as they fit your personal dynamic. I enjoy using great literature to learn through everyday life. We don’t require subjects, daily activities or impose things like bedtimes. Everyday in our house is filled with active and inactive learning.
In order to save space, I am going to turn this into a series,which is a new concept on this blog, so expect a 5 part Back to School series over the next week. Post #2 will look at Unschooling and Charlotte Mason philosophies or more specifically, how we utilize the philosophies in our own home. Post #3 will look at how we plan for our year and how we find resources that will help us on our journey. Post #4 will look at a day and week in the life of this crazy bunch and Post #5 will look at how we record our progress so that everything is legal in our state.
Join me! 🙂