October 23, 2003

Ramblings and Rantings of a Homeschooling Mama... I realized tonight it has been a long time since I just sat down and blogged from the heart late at night. Those are some of my favorite blogs. Some examples of these from the past are Tea with Norah Jones, The Food Disconnect, Journaling Family History and Late nights with Norah Jones. It seems there is something about listening to Norah Jones that spurs me to write from the heart. Incidentally I am NOT listening to her right now. You would not believe what the background noise for this blog entry is: a vacuum cleaner running not to clean but simply for its sound. My youngest daughter LOVES this and it helps put and keep her asleep. I really need to make an Mp3 recording of this so I don't have to keep running the vacuum all night long!

Anyway what is it that I want to talk about? I'm not really sure truth be told there is so much going on in our lives right now and it seems so little of it has to do with homeschooling. And yet in a very real sense all of it does. I have to admit I am not yet sold on the concept of "unschooling", (even though I keep finding myself there) I can see it's value and can see how it can work and many of its benefits but I just have a hard time understanding how one unschools math and language rules and how you are sure to cover all the basics. In many ways I see an unschooling tendency underlying both my teaching style and my children's learning styles - but not fully. At this point in our schooling I would classify us as "classical unschoolers" - a term that seems to contradict on face and yet it is a comfortable home for us.

The classical style of homeschooling really appeals to me for its structure and I really like the concept of the trivium. It makes sense to me and seems like a logical way to teach and to learn. However in some ways it is so rigid and I feel like I can't fit everything in to that "method". I would say that is the basis for our curriculum and my goals for the kids but it is not the way we actually school. In many ways I find myself moving down the "unschooling" path - following the desires and interests of my children. If we get interested in the letter F and the kids want to spend a week talking about firefighters - let's do it I say. Let's go to every kid friendly website I can find, let's visit the fire department, let's do fire safety drills at home. Let's work with their interests. This seems to be the way I end up teaching, very spontaneously sometimes flushing the day's schedule or even half the weeks schedule to go with the flow of the moment. You see my kids learn more that way, they learn when they are interested - so I am learning to go with their interests. However, I can not just let go of the rest I still find time to make Rhiannon do math even if she doesn't want to and we need to practice handwriting even if it is boring to her. But I will delay a certain lesson another week to accommodate the learning that is inspired by the moment in our household. Some recent examples of this can be seen in our lessons on Ride the trolley and On the Ocean Floor. These lessons both started from a field trip that became a week long lesson plan that covered a variety of subjects. And of course you can see that I plan lessons around topics or letters quite frequently from our recent E week. Those letter weeks seems to ebb and flux from what I expected or planned into something far better - simply by following the interests of the children at the moment and keeping a general plan and goal in mind for the day or week or lesson. So I guess we try for a classical curriculum with room for whatever our unschooling tendencies bring us to.

I think what makes me so excited about this is that it feeds my natural love of knowledge and it is exciting to observe this same passion in my children and I want to foster that however I can. I love learning, my calling in life would be to be a professional reader or professional student if that could be a profitable profession. Alas it is my hobby and my passion, I always seek to learn more and to better myself and the world around me through that knowledge. I want my children to share that passion and love that my husband and I share. So when I see the light bulb go on I want to foster that and encourage them to do more. That is why when the kids ask a simple question like How Do You Make Soy Milk? or How Do You Make Apple Cider? or What is Dry Ice?we do more than make a simple answer of "I don't know" or share the limited information we know. We go to the "answer box" (our computer) and find a detailed answer and then try to do an experiment to couple or reinforce the lessons. These have spurred some of our favorite lessons so far in our house.

I truly love starting with a simple question and following it through as far as we possibly can - giving the children both age appropriate knowledge and some more advanced information I don't expect them to fully understand now but atleast they will have the term or concept in their knowledge base to come back to later when the timing is more appropriate. Kind of like creating verbal signposts for them to hang the knowledge on as they learn it. Right now sublimation is not clearly understood by my 4 year old though she can tell you that it is "when a solid goes directly to a gas" Someday that definition will make more sense to her and she might recall the experiments we did that made her interested in recalling the definition.

It is this that makes me delve deeper for the answers and follow the paths of their interest in addition to our regular "scheduled curriculum". Some days I feel like we are saying "We interrupt this broadcast to bring you the following special report" and that is just perfect with me and the kids. This freedom is one of the best aspects of homeschooling in my mind. I think all teachers would like to be able to reach their students the way I can reach mine when I can work with their interests and desire to learn. That truly is a blessing in the homeschooling environment and one of the many reasons we have chosen to homeschool.

Well the time has passed quickly by and I do need to sleep so for now I will sign off. Thanks for listening to my late night ramblings.


No comments:

Post a Comment