Monday, March 1, 2010

Learning at Our House

Ready for something educational around here?

I know. Me too.

Thanks for tolerating all the knitting and list making around here lately. I promise it's a vital part of my educational philosophy and process.

I've posted here in the last few months about my thoughts on Kindergarten and the research I was doing to figure out what might best fit our family for our first "official" year next year. There are so many great things out there and I deeply appreciate the merits of Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, and unschooling.

So I spent the end of 2009 reading and talking with my husband and praying over these decisions. But for the last 2 months I have put all the Kindergarten thoughts on hold quite purposefully and we've gone about our days. Partly because I needed to focus on this day and the things we are learning and doing now, but partly because that is how I work best. I read and research everything I can find and then I have to let it all sit in my mind for awhile.

So I knit and make other lists that help me feel productive while I let all that information stew.

I began journaling about it over the weekend for the first time since before Christmas and a lot of things that seemed so muddy in December seem very clear now. Brian and I spent part of our time this weekend talking about our goals for homeschooling and a general family philosophy since we both consider homeschooling a lifestyle rather than a portion of our day. I realized also that our current days have shifted into a really comfortable place as far as our "schooling" and that I want to hang on to it for our core.

Every day includes something with math concepts, something for Ender to use his reading skills, and something to write. We also read every day- on average a chapter from whatever read-aloud we're on, something from whatever subject Ender is interested in (outer space at the moment), and as many picture books as they'd like (always Sandra Boynton for Ezra right now. The boy LOVES those hippos!).

Our extras (science, history, geography and all the stuff you're supposed to have besides the three Rs) are by interest right now and I'm perfectly fine with keeping it that way for a long while. We've been reading the Magic Treehouse books a chapter or two at a time and several of them have non-fiction companions- we're on our second of the non-fiction books (Space) and Ender really loves them. Ender is also learning to use the non-fiction section of our library to find books he might like about different subjects and he's already figured out which publishers might have the best pictures in their books. This is the project-based/Reggio Emilia portion of our day. I take a step back during this time and we go wherever Ender wants to go. In the last two weeks it's brought us to learning about how a telescope works, who Galileo and Isaac Newton were, what gravity is, and how people dressed a few hundred years ago. I'm loving the conversations we're having lately, and he's doing a fine job directing himself.

The last two components to our days are time outside and time to make things. Of course time outside will be a bit easier when there is less ice hanging around, but even now we try to get out for at least a little bit. I look forward to being able to be out all morning or afternoon again when it warms a little bit more. Last summer we hit a great rhythm with having quiet afternoons with the making box and I hope a similar pattern will emerge again in its own way in the coming months when I will be home all day again.

So I suppose my little panic about what we "should" be doing has been quelled for now. My plan for when it bubbles up again? Reading through Ruth Beechick's books, Real Learning and looking back through our journey so far to remind myself of how much we have learned from playing checkers and card games and spending all day outside.

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