Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I have been doing a lot of reading about different homeschooling methods. There are a lot of diverse approaches out there. A couple of the primary ones include the Charlotte Mason approach which advocates the use of "living books" and nature journals, the "unschooling method" which is a less structured, more child directed mode of learning and the Classical approach which is based on a"cycle" that breaks learning down into 3 different levels - the logic, grammar and rhetoric stages.
All of these methods have a lot of appealing aspects but I can't say that one single approach is right for us. If I had to describe the method that appeals to me the most I'd have to say its a mixture of a number of methods...I'd call it the Classical Eclectic approach. I read the Susan Wise Bauer book called A Well Trained Mind which advocates the Classical Method but being a slave to the method seems limiting to me however I did drawn alot of great ideas from it. I like the idea of using real works of great literature. I like the idea of teaching history chronologically as opposed to an ad hoc approach. I think its important to teach children a whole world view....not just geography and history of the state they live in. I think its vital to give my children both a religious and a liberal arts education. To encourage my children to think for themselves and think outside of the square.
So I have the bones of an educational approach to start with. Next step is to start picking out curriculum...this might take a while!
Monday, March 30, 2009
There was a lot of conjecture at the conference about the role the government plays in homeschooling. The traditional homeschoolers do it all on their own...so governemtn assistance or funding. Recently, the government, no doubt as a response to the increasing popularity of HS have started offering financial assistance to HS families in exchange for some review of their methods and progress.
In my area, a program called Spokane Valley Learning Academy is available to HS families. This provides classes one day a week and financial support of up to $330 per child per year but in exchange HS have to provide reporting on programing, progress and submit to testing and monthly meetings.
The traditional HSers are vehemently opposed to this kind of intervention and see it as the thin edge of the wedge. Others see it as a way to get some support and keep them focused and on track. At the moment I am uncommitted about the degree to which I want the kind of government assistance offered. Maybe as fall approaches I will figure out whether it will be a good fit for us or not.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The HS conference was GREAT. I was amazed to see so many like minded families attending. I would have to say there were hundreds of families. And the main thing that I noticed that although they were all doing the HS thing EVERYONE did it differently. That's actually heartening to know that there isn't one way to HS. Everyone does what is best for them.
Its was really reassuring to see so many people that have come to the smae conclusion as we have about their child's education. At the conference I was made aware of a new much smaller Catholic co-op starting up in my area that sounds just like my speed. some of the co-op members invited me to come for a visit so I'll definitely be doing that. It's nice to have options!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Ok...so that title might be getting a bit overused BUT..being a newbie on the homeschool scene I am only just becoming aware the what an extensive support network is out there for homeschoolers.
Last week I discovered a new homeschool bookstore we have here in town. It's run by a Mom who homeschools her own children on the premises. She has been a fountain of information for me but the biggest plus is having somewhere to go where I can sit and page through all the text books.
My local co-op also have their annual homeschool conference this weekend. They have a host of wonderful guest speakers, workshops and informational events planned. There will also be a vendor hall and a used book sale....so I'm really looking forward to going and being able to glean some wisdom from more experienced homeschoolers.
These pictures are primarily for family and friends back in Australia who for the last few months have been experiencing record temperatures, bush fires and generally sweltering conditions. On our side of the pond we are also poised to set records...here in the wintery Pacific Northwest we are only an inch or so from setting the record for the snowiest winter ever...(well since they started keeping records anyway!).
We took the kids away last weekend for a ski trip to Schweitzer. Such an awesome place even if you're not much into skiing. The little village on the mountain offers a movie theater, coffee shops and some great restaurants. The outdoor hottub where we stayed was a favorite of the boys...Matt and I enjoyed the ski in/ski out location of our hotel. When the kids got tired they headed back to the hotel while Matt and I had a "ski date" and spent an hour or so skiing....just the 2 of us...Awwwwww!
I have to say though...we were a little nervous after hearing about all the bad ski karma that also went on that weekend. What with Natasha Richardson's tragic accident and then that family ski trip that turned to tragedy after their plane crashed in Montana. I am pleased to report that we survived our weekend unscathed and I have vowed to buy helmets for myself and Matt next season.
Anyway...this being my 100th post...( I can't believe I have had so much to say!)..I am celebrating by offering a little giveaway! A set of Lemon Dingo standard size labels with your choice of icon, text and color to the winner.( Check out all the designs at www.lemondingo.com ). To enter just leave a comment on this post between now and March 31st and my high tech number drawing system will reveal a winner! Good luck and thanks for sharing the blog journey with me :-)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The good thing about schools is that all the resources are there for you. Program, curriculum, teachers, books, computers, teaching supplies, you name it...the school (for the most part) have it. So having decided to take the homeschool route I have found a couple of resources to be invaluable in discerning what I need to know and how to go about finding it.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a great place to start. It has a mountain of information from legal requirements to co-ops and support groups in each state.
The HSLDA pointed me in the direction of a local homeschool co-op - the Valley Home Scholars. When I contacted them I was so surprised to find what an established homeschool infrastructure was right on my doorstep. They offer all sorts of classes from high school science, to Spanish and Latin, Literature, debate and even a homeschool band. So it was just like having the resources of a school with none of the school bureacracy.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I met with the Principal of the children's school today. The school is currently re-enrolling kids for next year and I thought it was a good time to let them know that we wouldn't be back in the fall. I wanted to tell her personally about our decision to homeschool....knowing that rumors can start and spread fast and I wanted to make sure that when we leave the school we do so on good terms and with no regrets.
We have been involved with a lot of school activities, fundraisers and sports over the past 5 years, we pay all our tuition on time every month and its pretty rare that we complain about anything so I think she was genuinely disappointed that we were leaving. She said she has reservations about our decision to homeschool...and to be honest I would expect that. I can't imagine a school principal patting me on the back and lauding my homeschool decision as the best educational option for my children. The funny thing is that her biggest concern is the issue of socialization ...especially for my middle school daughter. It seems odd to me that this would be an issue especially since my daughter has been in the same class with the same 20 kids for the last 5 years.
Nevertheless I listened to her concerns, thanked her politely and felt quite liberated as I left her office. I really feel like its official...that our homeschool journey has begun!
Monday, March 16, 2009
Anyone who has a brother, son, father or husband...(so really every female on the face of the earth) will all know one indisputable truth. ....that once a boy, ALWAYS a boy.
On a recent Australian vacation my brother was showing us his pride and joy. My son, Jack was beside himself that he was actually allowed to get in it and go for a ride. A ride I might add that most probably defied all speed limits...but I will never know for sure as it is only a 2 seater car so there wasn't enough room in it for me to ride along with them! My subsequent ride in it was at a lot more of a sedate speed I'm sure, although I still managed to come back with my hair looking like it had been blow dried by a hurricane.
As my son got out of the car he assured me that one day he too will own a car just like this one. Once a boy...ALWAYS a boy!
After much research, discussion, soul searching and a touch of angst, Matt and I have decided to take the plunge into the world of homeschooling. We have been wrestling with our children's education for quite some time. Feeling like we are leaving them to the mercy of the education system which is incapable of addressing them as individuals with their individual strengths and weaknesses. Afraid that they will be forced through a system that doesn't necessarily have THEIR best interests at heart...and knowing that we are the only ones that really have a vested interest in ensuring they grow to meet their full potential (You can read about my struggle with their education here.)
So the path to homeschooling has come kind of out of the blue for us. I had never really considered it before. Its not nearly as widespread in Australia as it is here in the States so it had never even crossed my mind until one afternoon when my daughter, after having a rough day at school, asked if I could homeschool her. And then it was a bit of a snowball effect. We couldn't believe that we had never thought of it before.
I asked our other children what they thought of the idea and I was surprised to hear just how enthusiastic they were about it. So before we made a decision I threw myself into research mode and was determined to find out as much as I could about homeschooling. Talking to homeschoolers, finding out about curriculum, resources, support groups and co-ops. It made my head spin. But Matt and I both knew that homeschooling was the right decision for our family.
So once we had told the children..(who were VERY excited)...we decided not to pull them out of school mid year..(for a variety of reasons)..so I am spending the next few months getting organized to begin our first year of homeschooling.
I have set up this blog to record our family's journey with homeschooling....to journal our experiences, good, bad and everything in between. Strap yourself in...this could be a bumpy ride!
Friday, March 6, 2009
A few days ago I came downstairs to find Jack doing an "experiment" in the kitchen. Water, ice, salt , a gumball.....
and a pinch of cous cous. Of course. The secret ingredient. All very scientific.
The best part....the safety goggles. A must have accessory for the budding professor!