We all glean different benefits from homeschooling. Here are a few of the benefits my family has enjoyed.
~ Honoring our natural clocks. Everyone has a bad night or reasons why they can't sleep. It's nice to know they can sleep in if they need to. Also, all of my children are night owls. They are much more productive later in the day. Our society caters to the early birds. In fact, we insist our children get up even earlier so that they are in school before parents need to get to work. My children will get up early for something they really want to do, but that means they need to crash by one or two in the afternoon. I remember feeling that way in school, but you can't exactly take a nap in class.
~ Better spending habits. Homeschooling is as expensive or cheap as you want it to be. We only buy supplies we need and finish them. Some notebooks and writing and art supplies lasted years. Schools in our area post back-to-school lists for parents at local office supply stores, noting particular brands and amounts to buy. I've heard many complaints about them. We may pay for a class or two, but I tend to try to find free or inexpensive learning resources by using the library and finding mentors in the community.
~ Better eating habits. My kids eat when they are hungry. They all know how to cook and bake to some extent. They use recipes more than the microwave. We don't eat out a lot. We discuss nutrition and healthy choices. I've been in school cafeterias as a student and as a teacher's aide. They are loud, chaotic atmospheres where students have little time to actually eat. You can't expect a child to make smart choices about their diet when they are starved and rushed. I'm not saying my kids never eat prepackaged food. They just don't crave it because they have the time to decide what they really want to eat.
~ Closer ties. When I tell people how much Chase and Sierra miss their big sister while she's away at college, they usually joke about how happy their younger children were when an older child left. Sometimes I feel we work harder to make friends outside of the family than we do to make friends with the people we have the most in common with--our siblings. I'm glad my kids are close. I hope they will always be there for each other.
How about you? What benefits has your family gained from homeschooling?
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Monday, February 24, 2014
When your children reach a certain age, it's not uncommon to be looked upon as an "expert" in homeschooling. I remember when my oldest was six and I clung to the expertise of homeschoolers with ten-year-olds. Obviously, they knew something I didn't know, because I struggled with homeschooling for a whole year and they had been doing this for four or more years!
With over sixteen years of experience and one homeschooled-to-college, I can assure you I am no "expert." I am a veteran of homeschooling, but I still view myself as learning how to do this. It would be nice to think that there is one simple way to home educate, but the truth is there are as many ways as there are homeschooled children. Not homeschooling parents, mind you. There are as many ways as there are homeschooled children.
Even if you are a fan of canned curriculum, you cannot possibly teach every child exactly the same. You grow in your experience homeschooling, the same as your children. At least, I hope you do. I've always had romantic notions that most homeschoolers love learning, which is why they want to teach their own. I love learning. I strive to improve myself and still puzzle over better ways to help my youngest enjoy learning. I shifted styles as my children grew and presented their unique personalities to me. I have tried to take things one year at a time instead of worrying about how it will all work out in the end. I learned to bend when things weren't working. I observed and listened, because listening is what I consider the most important part of successful homeschooling.
One of my favorite analogies is the tree in the wind. A tree that is unmoving is more prone to break or uproot when faced with a strong wind. A tree that is flexible and bends with the wind is more likely to survive, even if its shape is changed by the wind. I would rather be the flexible tree.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
|The downy woodpecker turns his head as I photograph him.|
|A wren and sparrow wait for an opening on the suet feeder.|
|There was some displeasure about having to share the feeders||.|
|The mockingbird cheered up when I gave him some apples.|
|Even a nor'easter can't stop a squirrel from raiding the feeders.|
|The best way to watch wildlife.|
Friday, February 14, 2014
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
I don't remember seeing this much snow since we moved to this area, the year of the thirteen snowstorms. This week has been particularly difficult, with two heavy snows dumped within days of each other. I struggle to be optimistic about it, but when you are already sore from digging out on Monday and find all your work gone when you look out the window on Wednesday, it can be disconcerting, to say the least.
Those are the teachable moments the natural world gives us. Since I am a lover of impermanent art forms, I try to look at shoveling the walk the same way I might look at a sand castle being overcome by a wave. There is nothing personal about it, it just is. The snow falls, and the walk and driveway must be cleared. If nothing else, I'm getting an excellent workout moving that snow into ever increasing mounds.
And a mound of good packing snow can be as fascinating to me as a block of marble to a sculptor.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
When my kids were younger we used to go to nature classes at a park about a half hour away. When the weather was nice, the homeschooling families would stay after, and our children would play under the trees and brambles surrounding the nature center. There was an old playground at the other end of the park, about a ten to fifteen minute walk, but it never seemed necessary to trek over there. The children had plenty to play with. Our side of the park had a copse of tall pines that made the best hangout. Some of the kids had actually climbed fifteen feet up in those pines. The ladder-like branches made it easy for them. Sometimes they found owl pellets among the bed of pine needles at the base of the trees. They carried home pine cones in their pockets and pine tar on their pants. A hill beside the trees made the perfect sledding hill in winter, and if that didn't hold your interest you could walk over to the river and see what treasure high tide left upon the shore.
At some point, the county decided to add a playground to our side of the park. It was newer and shinier than the other playground, with lots of climbing apparatus, slides, and a plastic wall with pretend fossils hidden underneath. The county planted native trees and shrubs around it to help it blend in. The first thing our children noticed was that the playground was right at the bottom of the sledding hill. Luckily, it was spring, so they recovered pretty quickly from that disappointment. It was shiny and new, after all. Eventually, however, all but the littlest of our group were back in the trees. That would always be where they played the most.
Playgrounds are fine for a short time, but they are limited in how children can use them, just like any themed or educational toy. The natural world offers much greater opportunities for exploration and adventure.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Remember when Guitar Hero came out? I do. My first thought was "Wow! What a great idea! Use a video game to help teach kids how to play guitar!"
Unfortunately, playing Guitar Hero was more like playing Simon (remember Simon?) than playing a guitar. Nevertheless, my son loved playing Guitar Hero when we went to the arcade.
Then one of his friends started learning electric guitar. Let's hear it for peer pressure. My son saved up his money and a little over two years ago, he bought himself an electric guitar.
The plan was that he would look for sites online and DVDs to begin learning, and then once he showed a real interest (and we had the money) we would find an instructor. The first month, he tried. He looked at YouTube videos and I brought home DVDs from the library. He worked on the fingering. He even managed to play Happy Birthday on my birthday. But it was slow progress. Unfortunately, guitar is one of those things you really need to stick with, and if you don't really know how to tune your guitar, can't keep the chords straight in your head and you put off practicing because you hate how it hurts to press those strings, you practice less.
Until your guitar sits on its stand in the corner of your room and mom has to remind you to dust it off or put it in its case.
Last November, I lamented about how little his guitar was used over the past year and wished again that Guitar Hero actually taught guitar. That was when my son told me there was a game that taught electric guitar. It's called Rocksmith.
Rocksmith comes with a special USB cable (only they sell it) that hooks your guitar up to your computer. We bought it for him for Christmas. The premise is similar to Guitar Hero in that you play notes as they shoot toward you. The difference is that you are actually playing notes. To set up, you let it know what you want to play--lead, rhythm, or bass--and whether you are right or left handed. It gauges how well you play and slows down or adds notes based on your skill level. Best of all, you play using actual songs instead of simply practicing chords. It teaches the notes as you go so that you work on a few notes at a time until your accuracy improves. Other features include interactive lessons on the chords and different ways to play them; an arcade with fun mini-games where you do things like shoot zombies with the correct notes and chords; and it helps you tune your guitar.
The guitar now sits at the ready by his computer. We no longer need to dust it. That makes me happy.
"I got my first real six string
Bought it at the five and dime
Played it till my fingers bled..."
~Bryan Adams, Summer of '69