|Painting of Indian Rock Schoolhouse by Louise McCutcheon|
So let me just put that right out there... I am no expert. I am certainly not a guru, nor do I have anything figured out except for what works for us right now and that has only taken 8+ years of homeschooling to decipher and is subject to change from year to year and child to child. I don't follow a particular philosophy because I find that locking myself into a philosophy only limits me and I want to be free to change my philosophy to suit each child. I would hate for my child to think that they were on the outside of my ideal educational method looking in and feeling inadequate. To me, the beauty of homeschooling is the ability to change to suit the child. It's what the teachers in the big, brick box down the road long for... to free their hands from the bureaucratic ties that bind them and really help each and every child in the way that suits them best! Well, that and... better pay, smaller classes, a decent cafeteria, etc, etc....
Anyway, what I was attempting to do on my blog "break" is to get our materials organized for the current school year and in that I was successful for the most part. As you know, we like to start early, mostly because of the weather, but also, it allows us to take more breaks during the year, too. We also continue with some lessons in the summer, but these are minimally invasive and usually only serve the purpose of offering a little more practice or reinforcement of a skill. Plus, summertime in Texas is so blistering hot that it helps to have something to distract them from the fact that the outside is trying to kill us all!
So, here is a peek into our home educational experience thus far...
The Professor (7th grade) has been a relatively easy child to educate. He does most of it himself. I discovered he could read at the age of four when I sat down to begin his reading lessons and he blew through the whole book in an hour. That is not an exaggeration. I truly didn't teach this child to read, I think he was born knowing. He also loves being an independent learner and as the oldest child of a mother who actually took a class called Independent Study in high school so that she could learn about Art Restoration (God bless you, Mrs. Siegfried) and a father who independently studied his way through homeschooled high school. This particular study style is not a problem in this family!
He recently had to have his eyes rechecked because of his previously diagnosed vision problems and on his usual post-eye doctor trip to the book store he turned down a whole host of fictional wonders in favor of this book: World War II - The Events and Their Impact on Real People. When he gets interested in a subject, he wants to know everything about it. So my job as his educator has been to facilitate those healthy obsessions on topics ranging from trains to tornadoes.
But in the interest of full disclosure, it's been my experience that whenever a mom tells you all about her child's genius sounding capabilities, you can be sure there is an area where their performance has been less than stellar. For The Professor, that is writing. He hates to write. He would rather pull his hair out strand by strand than sit down and write a page worth even if it was about his most favorite fascination du jour. So we have limped along in that area all the while racing to keep up with him in the reading department. I know there are those of you out there who understand exactly what kind of person this young man of mine is because you probably have your own versions at home!
Sunshine (5th grade) is very different and much more evenly paced in her learning. She learned to read at just the right speed and at just the right time. She is a very visual child but has a hard time understanding concepts. Her visual tendencies have given her a more artistic outlook on life, but I wouldn't say she has a naturally artistic vision. Her artistic eye is still something to be cultivated. That is what we have tried to do most with her while at the same time, encouraging her to think about concepts and ideas and focus on making connections between them.
Her artistic eye still surprises me sometimes. I recently purchased a beautiful three dimensional fairytale theater book at the bookstore about Snow White (which is a steal on Amazon right now!) and as soon as we brought it home she pulled a book that isn't one we look at regularly, Let There Be Light, off the shelf recognizing by the pictures that it was drawn by the same illustrator. Because of her incredible interest in all things artistic, we have to encourage her to give things like science, math and grammar a fair shake. Life is not all yarn balls and embroidery hoops, my dear!
Shortcake (4th grade) is a good smush of the older two. She likes to study independently when it comes to subjects like dogs, dogs and dogs and she surprises me with how well she does at math, even though she would freely admit that it's her least favorite subject. She has those same healthy obsessions The Professor does, but the are very tightly focused only on a few areas, so I have to push her to think outside the dog kennel, I mean, box. She is really excited about some science experiments in her science book this year, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she turns out to have a really good head for science.
BigBoy is just starting first grade this year so it's hard to tell what his learning style will be. Like his brother, he was born knowing how to read and struggles a little with writing, but he is much more willing to attempt it than The Professor was at the same age. Maybe that's because I learned after working with The Professor for those many stressful years to not make a big deal out of it, so he is more inclined to give it a shot.
If this seems like a random post, it's probably because I started it a while back and then I wasn't sure I was going to publish it. Husband encouraged me to because I want to save this for my kids to look back on someday. That is what I try to do here more than anything else.
Updated to add: Barbara reminded me to add that part of what allows us to be so free with our homeschooling is that we live in the *second most homeschooling friendly state. Texans truly treasure their freedoms and recognize homeschools as private schools with no regulation. There are some curriculum "requirements" like good citizenship which we cover in our religion studies and a few others, but for the most part, homeschools are allowed to operate independently of the state government/ local school districts and as they see fit.
*ALSO: Michelle's comment made me realize that my information might be out of date. I remember looking up the information back before we started homeschooling and seeing Alaska listed as #1 with Texas as #2. That was based on state requirements/regulations and compulsory age requirements by an organization which believes that parents should be able to homeschool without any state regulation, interference, or compulsion.
I just found this information from 2001 which ranks states based on homeschooling options and Texas ranks NUMBER ONE (whoo hoo!!!) along with Idaho, Missouri, New Jersey and Oklahoma.