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First Two Years
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Polyamory for the Practical
Homeschooling After Two Years
I know, I'd promised more homeschooling articles, and I haven't written a darn
thing for the site on this since 2000.
Well, Happy Halfway Through 2002. I've finally gotten around to it!
This is what I have learned so far:
Kids really do like to learn.
I know this sounds awfully basic. You hear it all the time, but it's been
strongly reinforced with my children. They don't know they're "learning".
They're just pursuing their interests -- mostly. The Bird has a serious
fascination with human anatomy. No, I don't mean that as a four year old, she
has learned the parts of the body. I mean she likes to study anatomy books
that show cut-away drawings of internal organs and find out what they do. This
was not a Course of Study. It was just my daughter following her interests.
Document, Document, Document
In most states in the US, kids who are homeschooled do have to register with
the state and submit some proof of progress -- be it through standardized
testing, a portfolio of work, or a teacher evaluation. I had not kept
particularly careful track of what Baby Thor had done last year, but
fortunately, The Prince did.
It's a good idea to have a folder or box with examples of the kids' work that
you will collect throughout the year. That way, come evaluation time, you've
got everything you need right there.
Don't try to be perfect
I know a lot of homeschoolers feel like they have something to "prove". It's
understandable. Anytime you step outside of the so called normal way of doing
things, people will blame every last little thing they do not like on their pet
annoyance with your deviation from normality. You are under no responsibility
to turn your child into the next Albert Einstien, for heaven's sake. You just
need to make sure your child gets a good education and can cope with being an
adult sometime around the time he's in his late teens. While it's impressive
as all get out if your child is reading by three and doing Calculus by ten, if
she's not, it's not a failure of homeschooling.
Be willing to change
One of the great joys of being a homeschooler is its flexibility. You don't
to do things a certain way. You can change your approach when you feel that
something else will work better.
For the last couple of years, we've darn near unschooled. Baby Thor more or
less taught himself to read, and the kids have been picking up a lot from the
books we read to them, or in Baby Thor's case books
read. However, as we've reviewed what the kids are doing and compared it to
the curriculum that we'd planned, we realized that they're ahead in some areas,
but not quite where we want them to be in others.
So, slight alteration of approach. We're going with
this year and a prepackaged curriculum. We've been really impressed with
their materials and sample curriculums.
Make learning fun
When a child has a question, instead of just answering the question flat out,
go on the Web, find pictures about it. Go to the library and find books. Let
them see the
of discovering things, so that they will learn to look things up on their own.
The Prince, especially, does this with the children. Looking at pictures of
skeletons was a special father/daughter time between The Bird and The Prince.
Apply what you're doing to real life
While I was not homeschooled, I never really did get the point of arithmatic
with fractions until I was cooking with my mother. We had to alter a recipe
(the whole clan was coming over and I have a big extended family), and in the
got the idea. This sort of thing can be applied to all kinds of areas of
study -- arithmatic is simply one of the more obvious and useful methods. The
kids are probably soaking up a fair amount of music theory just wandering
through the dining room and listening to the adults rehearse for pub sings.
Have the kids write letters to family to practice their penmanship.
Grandparents eat that kind of thing up and it teaches the kids a lot.
Encourage them to keep a journal. When I was a kid, I soaked up not only
history but a love of it from family outings all over Virginia to different
places of historical interest. Many of these places have guides that will
dress in period costume and play a character from that era. You get a lot that
way, and it is a
more fun than a textbook, even to a bookworm like myself.
The computer is your friend
There's a glut of educational software out there. Use it. 'Nuff said.
The Learning Company
put out some of the best stuff. You can often find good deals for this
. We often buy used software of this sort.
Keep water ballons filled with rotting lettuce sludge to throw at people who
ask about socialization.
Okay. Not really. But I can dream, dammit!
There are homeschoolers for whom socialization is the "S-word" and rightfully
so. No, my children are not especially skilled in staying in a straight line
or asking permission to go to the bathroom, or only associating with their own
age group, but they can handle bullies calmly, are compassionate with children
who are hurting, and are friendly and know how to talk to anyone. What the
heck more do you want?
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