The Whole Picture of Homeschooling
It was wonderful ! I never had so much fun in my entire life...kids did, too !
I had such a hard time when I was in grade school that I did not want my children to experience anything remotely similar. I knew that they would in many ways if I didn't do something about it. I never wanted to completely take them away from challenging lessons that would be good for them to experience, but I felt that sometimes it was too much to expect them to handle. So I set out to make it a totally different experience for them.
I had no idea where to start, like how to buy materials or set up a classroom. So, I just made a list of what I wanted them to learn, academically and emotionally, a lot of which were things I didn't learn or wasn't offered the experience to learn. Starting simply with the basics; math, reading and writing. But eventually learning how to throw in geography, history, culture of other places and people, animals, health, social skills, nature study, music, foreign language, community service, field trips, acting, skits, plays, artwork, etc. This was back before we had a computer so we were at the library weekly. The main point was to engage them, teach them that education could be a joyful experience and provide for them what I thought was more healthy, assessed on an individual basis.
As a single parent, I only had two hands and one body and twenty four hours in a day, so I had to do two or three things as the same time, and planned our life like that. I had an income to create, children to raise and school. Honestly, isn't parenting a career in itself? I had a career to excel at in these jobs; I was satisfied.
We had an official first day of school and a little celebration, starting in the kitchen with cooking. There is so much math going on in the kitchen, I just pointed it out as we did it. Learning to do things with your hands, not just with pencil and paper, reaches all learning styles and gives a whole brain affect for solid center brain firing (right and left hemisphere brain working together). And of course the results of cooking are a real plus ! Not only do you get to eat it, but have the satisfaction of having an end product which is so important for building their esteem and self confidence. And we always cleaned up after ourselves...set good habits from the start. They learned how to take care of their own needs as well. I didn't have to tell them to push the chair up to the counter to work with me. They knew right away how to get what they wanted ! I would purchase smaller containers of liquids, milk, for instance, so they could learn to pour it themselves into measuring cups. They learned to turn the stove on and off, how to handle hot things, keep track of time (read the clock) for the cookies to be done. The motor skills one can learn in the kitchen are endless. The Montessori philosophy was my foundation, I read only her original books. Patience was my greatest virtue to be attained!!
I don't remember now what all the areas of the brain do, but in every situation I eventually learned how to plan that we used as many areas as possible---real whole brain learning ! But, always with the purpose of staying "connected to our center". Christians would say giving glory to God in all that we have and all that we do. That sense of purpose in life, I wanted to instill as a conscious and subconscious habit. I think it is the frontal lobe that connects us with that spiritual sense of purpose. (I need to read up on the current research in brain function !)
One of my income jobs was driving a 120 mile circular paper route 7 days a week in the country. It offered income and opportunities for one-on-one talking time with each child (captive audience !), personal reading homework and for fun, and we got to do a lot of nature study of the seasons and enjoy the fresh air and beautiful scenery, and learn business and social skills at the same time. I remember one night route, like I had to do each weekend, during early summer rains. We came to a bridge, it was around midnight, so I had to wake the kids up, but it was a sight few people ever get to see. Thousands of frogs or toads (?) were on the road for as far as the headlights reached and beyond! I'll never forget the looks on their faces as they sat up and rubbed their eyes to wake up. When they got focused and saw the frogs, their mouths dropped to their knees and they squealed with delight. We watched for a while, but it was too hard to keep them in the car, they had to get out and experience this. They got out slowly and moved slowly among the mass of chirping frogs, I stayed in the car not wanting to disrupt their world (the kids or the frogs). And they just blended with the mass as they sat down. They picked up a few and held them a while, petted some other ones; were One and accepted by them. I got such a rush just watching...it was sooo cool !!! (words from my inner teen that I have never outgrown)
Our customers, mostly older farmers would be waiting for their papers; their connection with the world, each day as we drove up to their box. We would always stop and shoot the breeze. The kids were great at talking to everyone; would show them what we were working on "in school", we called it "roam school", and many, many times we received treats! YUM! We used to get all kinds of gifts as well; fresh garden produce, holiday cards and treats...and my favorites were from this one older woman that lived by herself at the furthest point from civilization. Besides her wonderful garden produce, she shared her hobby with us...cutting out pictures of beautiful things from the magazines. At least once a month she would give a box full of cut outs. Animals, landscapes, people, flowers, birds, etc. It became the thing to do for us to make her collages with her cuttings. She covered her walls with them. We went into her house one day after we had been exchanging these gifts with each other for almost a year. Her entire hallway had all the collages we had made hanging floor to ceiling. It was so gratifying for all of us! A real treasured memory. Think of the socialization skills they were getting. That is one of the biggest missing pieces people complain about concerning home schooling.
Everything we did cost next to nothing; was always within the realm of our basic necessities budget. I bartered house cleaning for musical instrument lessons, I had music knowledge and taught them the basics until they were ready for lessons. They attended the local scout troops, played on local sports teams (when there was funding) or just played on the playground with other kids during recess. I have to admit it bothered other people in various ways, but I would have the kids tested with the other kids in the public school when they took their tests, and my kids' scores were always the highest in the school, even ahead of their grade level. And I know it was because of the whole brain use and freedom of movement they got being at home.
I always said, that if I wanted someone else to raise my children I would send them to public school. At home they got one-on-one, individually focused attention to met their needs, and best of all they didn't grow up being just one of the crowd that couldn't think for themselves. And even better than that, they had a kindness for others and a relaxed attitude about most things they did. Their individual characters blossomed. And even better than that they LOVED LEARNING and the whole education scene. They were ready to take on the world by the time they decided they wanted to attend public high school and college.
My son is in college working on becoming a teacher and my daughter and her husband are in the military reserves and work at a state prison on inmate reform. They are under 25 and just bought their own 3 bedroom house, have two cats and a dog, and working on creating children!!
Sounds rosy, but wasn't always. Like the times "well meaning" people that knew our situation would call the "authorities" to check us out. We were more than able to satisfy their concerns. We even had this one social worker type sitting and doing memory practice with us one time. My kids were better at it than she was. They were both reading before they were 5 years old because we had used flash phonic cards before they could even talk. She was blown away by that bit of information. At that time in the mid size town where we were, phonics still had not caught on. We practiced our letters in our paintings, in the dirt, in sand on trays with our fingers. So having the sounds down, the recognition of letters down, it was simple to begin to put the sounds together and learn to write when they weren't trying to do all four skills at once.
I feel that next to helping them learn how to stay centered, my greatest accomplishment was being able to be there for them when they were sick. With my two oldest children who attended public school all their formative years (I was a teen mother), it used to sadden me when I'd see children sick in the nurses office, so alone and neglected because their parent couldn't get off work until later. Usually they had been sent to school with a fever because the parent(s) were in such a rush to get to work early, or the kids were latchkey kids and took care of themselves. I did some things different than the norm with my older children, they mostly grew up as I grew up...it was hard. I hadn't acquired the knowledge, desire and belief in myself to give them homeschooling at that time. There was nine years difference between my first two children and my second two children. But they got benefits of my maturity at just the right time, when they were teenagers. But that's a whole other story!
This was really nice, reliving the memories as I've written this hub. I will add pictures as I have time. I am in the process of moving this week. But as I was sorting homeschool materials for boxes and preparing to give away some things to a young mother I know homeschooling her children, I felt it was a good time to write. I will also get to a list of books, information and links to put on this hub. But handy at this moment, as I was writing my name in my books to lend, The Core Knowledge series of curriculum like books by E.D. Hirsch was a God send, and the Critical Thinking books and software were great back then...I can't imagine what they have come up with now...I hope not anything too "heady", " "gamey" and robot like. Of course if you balance that with plenty of real life activities the kids will be great. The transition to computer life was such a different world. It is funny to think that my youngest children have never known life without technology.
Just remember to stay whole brained and heart centered!!
Blessings and Peace,
* Pictures above are not from our homeschool, but we had similar situations. You put books and equipment in your home right along beside regular household furniture...unless of course you have rooms just for schooling purposes.
**I have added a few homeschooling resources after comments below. Just a start. I will add more as time goes on if I run across really special ones that I know of.There are so many online now that all you have to do is search for exactly what you want. Technology is so incredible!!! I love the unity of purpose between communities and individuals.
Resources for Homeschooling
- Core Knowledge Foundation - Educational Excellence and Equity for All Children
The mission of the non-profit Core Knowledge Foundation is reform of preschool and K-8 public school curriculum in the United States, following the teachings of E. D. Hirsch, Jr., as outlined in such books as Cultural Literacy and The Knowledge Defic
Resources for Homeschooling
- CriticalThinking.org -
For teaching Critical Thinking skills
Resources for Homeschooling
- MONTESSORI, International Montessori Index of schools, teachers, materials, method,teacher training,
The Official International Montessori Site with links to schools, organizations, teacher training centers, conferences,Montessori teaching materials, and other Montessori sites