Kalin Art & Spirit

Homeschooling is not School at Home!

We Homeschooled for 8 years. It was a wonderful family experience that I hope many families, will try to implement, now that they’ve had a sampling of mandatory school-at-home due to the Corona19 virus pandemic stay-at-home orders.

TIP #1: HOMESCHOOLING IS NOT SCHOOL AT HOME

Our goal of ‘Homeschooling’ was to teach our children HOW TO LEARN~ How to embody virtues, and to live full, enriched lives. Homeschooling became a way of life that empowered our children to employ their curiosity, perseverance and knowledge toward a self-directed definition of personal success.

LEARNING STYLES

There are various methods of encouraging your kids to learn away from a school environment. The premise of ‘Multiple Intelligences’ by Howard Gardner is that each person has a mix of ways in which various personalities naturally learn.  They are Linguistic, Logical-Mathematatic, Musical, Kinesthetic, Spatial, Interpersonal and Interpersonal and Naturalistic learning.

Matching the senses to learning styles of Visual/Spatial, Verbal/Auditory, Reading/Writing, Physical/Kinetic and Embodiment via play-acting. All senses should be engaged with learning so that information registers, is retained and can be recalled.

I used individualized teaching methods for each of my kids, because I had insight into each of their motivations, preferences, and native abilities. The added benefit of homeschooling is that you, as a parent, will know (or will learn) what strategies work best with each of your children.

UMBRELLA SCHOOLS & REGISTERING IN YOUR STATE/CITY EDUCATIONAL DISTRICT

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 US States but you must register your children at their local school district prior to each school year so they are not counted as truant. You must pick up their forms that list the state’s requirements and fill in an end-of-year report that the requirements were met. Alternatively, parents can inform the school district which ‘umbrella school’ you are registering with in lieu of giving these reports to the school district and give them to the umbrella school.

SCHOOL AT HOME: One popular choice of schooling is to use the materials packaged by your school district. They usually supply a computer and have teachers who grade students work and confer with parents. To me, this was way too stressful! This is why the great joke about current situation of parents and kids both being exasperated with Homeschooling exists today!! :O

Teachers work ‘in loco parentis’ which is Latin for “in place of parents”. This is the original concept that allows parents to work outside the home and the state to take responsibility for educating youth, however, it regiments creativity into one-size-fits-all boxes and, imho, creates lazy and bored students. When parents have the luxury of matching learning options to individual children, the results are magical! When there are no imposed age restrictions in place, older kids play with and assist younger ones and generations happily mix and learn from each other. This is the great FREEDOM inherent in learning at home; It is a lifestyle that liberates the mind & spirit!

UNSCHOOLING: It’s a fairly radical idea to entertain and is legal in all 50 US States (and territories). People learn all the time, if encouraged and given direction via a question. Some of our friends enrolled their children into an “Umbrella School” that took responsibility for organizing the learning opportunities that children participated in over the year and created documents from the year-end reports that parents turned in. This was the least stressful way that allowed children’s youthful inquisitiveness to direct the learning process. Eventually, all the kids learned to read, write, calculate maths, play instruments, present dramatic entertainment, raise money for charity and become well-adjusted, kind and respectful people. It seemed a bit disorganized for me, but worked wonders when the children were naturally inquisitive and parents were confident that their kids would work things out on their own, or ask for help.

CHILD-LED LEARNING: Another, rather ‘open’ model of Homeschooling, is child-led learning, that is outlined by the State requirements but is left open to parents to co-create with their children and is used mostly in primary grades. Curriculum and educational materials can be purchased whenever the student is ready for a new subject. This one-at-a-time subject method works well if parents are committed to homeschooling over a number of years but can leave gaps in material covered if the parents decided they couldn’t continue with the 1:1 face time. I found it more expensive and decided to write my own curriculum. (Not as hard as it sounds!)

DIY CURRICULUM: Our studies were based on Sequential History, specifically, the History of ‘Western Civilization’ and later ‘Non-Western Civilization’ that integrated science, math, inventions, literature, art, music, culture and civics into each time-period of History. Our education range was from preK-middle school and middle school-high school.

HOURS:

This is probably the biggest stumbling block for many people. They don’t believe they can afford to homeschool or have the skills. Juggling teaching hours with work, or work-at-home can be tricky. Parents can work from home or trade schedules teaching and working with a spouse. Older kids can be educated by a single parent if they are convinced that it’s in their own best interest to do well and be responsible for themselves. In the era of school shootings, unworkable IEPs, and bullying, it was our choice to keep our kids safe and learn from home.

We lived below our means and had a very tight budget. I taught most of the hours but had help in the evenings and weekends with math, science and music. Local vocational schools, bookstores, homeschool networks and outreach programs offered field trips and enrichment opportunities.

I believe anyone can teach. Supplement what you know with what you learn while researching your subject. You only need to stay a week ahead of the kids to be able to ask pertinent questions. Your life experience counts for a lot! It keeps you on your toes and you’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to learn alongside your kids. Look things up together. Enjoy the adventure!

In a few hours a day, I spent the months of July and August researching materials and making reading lists from our local library. I’d outline a topic, research and learn more about each epoch in history, pencil in major events, and create a ‘Teacher’s Guide’ of the required subjects into outline form. Then I’d ‘integrate’ that information into activities and supplemental reading lists. This took a few weeks of research and plotting onto Week at a Glance “Teacher Guide” notebook for each student. ~This was BEFORE the age of online resources. I think the prep time today could be greatly reduced. There may even be software available for teacher planning!

We would cover ‘book learning’ in the morning between 9am and noon. The kids would wash up and set table for lunch and clean up after. Then they’d read historic fiction for an hour or two after lunch while I prepared hands-on activities for the afternoon, including chores. Once a week, we’d take the afternoon off to meet with other homeschoolers for outdoor games and social time. There, parents would brainstorm ideas and discuss strategies while kids would play. We kept our own schedule for field-trips to museums and cultural events that we’d attend as a family or a small group. Evenings were spent doing projects that pertained to some aspect of the overall theme or family game nights and educational movies. As the kids grew, they became more responsible for reading selection and had more time for individual study with a weekly review of their projects.

WHAT WE STUDIED: History based Social Studies

The first year of in-home learning we studied 9 week segments entitled, Egypt, Greece and Rome. We studied  the geography, climate, history, food, lifestyles and literature of each of these cultures. We studied the indigenous flora, fauna, and foods of each of these regions. We learned about and either drew, built models or presented read-aloud papers on scientific discoveries, biographies and short stories. ~ie. The kids really enjoyed cooking favorite foods of Alexander the Great, wearing togas and building catapults with a group of homeschoolers. It was great to wake up with an enthusiastic curiosity of what each day would bring!~

We studied Non-Western Civilizations for a year, although information on Russia or China was limited. We focused on the countries within Africa, India, the Middle and Far East in the same way that we did European History. We studied famous leaders and people of influence, ate more interesting foods and spent time listening to indigenous music, dress and customs, writing papers and doing creative presentations.

HOMESCHOOLING CAN BE TRAVEL

We were very lucky to be able take 3 months traveling the US in an RV while we studied US History, while my husband took a university lecture tour. That time we spent visiting State and National Parks and 32 State capitols. Speaking to locals and eating regional food, studying the State birds, trees and State historic sites topped our educational highlights. It took years to pay off that bill, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (We didn’t take other out of state vacations during our homeschool days.) TRAVEL IS A GREAT EYE OPENER & EDUCATION!

HOMESCHOOL TIPS & SECRETS

~The secret for successful HOMESCHOOLING is to have fun with it! Ask questions and don’t be afraid to question authorities. Dig into author’s perspectives and world paradigms. Discover for yourselves what is important for your children to learn. Encourage growth and changing of interpretations as your kids mature. Require honesty and responsibility.

To avoid boredom, I presented material that was at least 2-3 grades higher level than the public school used, with moderate expectations. More often than not, my kids rose to the level of the material and went off in their own directions of SELF EDUCATING. You see, when kids figure out HOW TO LEARN, they are set up for life!

For example, in 6th grade, my son was reading Socrates, Plato and Aristotle…because he was curious about philosophy and began teaching himself Trigonometry two years later. When there are no set boundaries placed on learning, anyone can become a life-long learner and exceed expectations!

RESOURCES

Books like ‘The Well Educated Child’ give material lists to follow using ‘Great Books’ and Children’s Literature. I used some of their material and crafted it to suit my children’s learning styles. I also incorporated Catholic school curriculum as it seemed the most rigorous material, and off-set it’s doctrine based rhetoric with US History books by two other publishers. We would read these three accounts of the same material and hold discussions as to the viewpoint of the authors. The fact that “History is written by the Winners” was made obvious, and we were able to understand a more inclusive perspective of what actually may have happened. This was our version of ‘debate’ class.

Used Book Sales are great places to discover well-loved ‘hand-me-down’ texts like Saxon math, Rosetta Stone language sets, and educational games. Local homeschool groups hold one or two sales every year so these purchases are actually more like ‘rentals’ of material. This makes it affordable.

Book Fairs– I especially liked the DK trunk shows, where they sold books and family games. These were held on an irregular basis, so I would stock up on material I felt was going to be useful. Many of these books I still have and refer to on occasion.

A BASIC READING LIST FOR EDUCATORS:

‘Multiple Intelligences’ by Howard Gardner.

‘The Well-Trained Mind’ by Jessie Wise & Susan Wise Bauer (many educational books/series)

The Great Books – world class literature and curriculum

‘A Timeline of World History’ by E.L. Mellersh (Excellent resource to understand History)

Reference; Books like ‘London; A Cultural History’ by Richard Tames.

Historic Fiction; ‘Sarum’ by Edward Rutherford, a novel of London through eras.

‘From Sea To Shining Sea’ series by James Alexander Thom – US History

DK books for children – wonderfully illustrated themed books on sciences and the arts

…and SO many more! Once you get started, let your imagination run wild~

Best wishes on this new lifestyle adventure!

~K

 

 

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Posted in Creativity and Muse-ings and Personal Growth and Relationships and Uncategorized by kalin on May 17th, 2020 at 11:44 am.

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