Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Homeschooling 101

I've had 5 different people ask me over the past 2 weeks about homeschooling. They've all inquired about what we do so I thought I would just write a blog post.
Our boys are in 2nd and 3rd grade. We have LOVED homeschooling. Our kids genuinely enjoy each other's company and spending so much time together has been such a blessing. Our time with them is only a moment so I'm trying to soak it all up and enjoy it!! Homeschooling is also a refining tool in my life. Whew! It's not always easy and my sin is exposed to my children daily. I am so thankful for the opportunity to live a genuine life in front of them and continually repent when I'm sinful and ask for their forgiveness. There is a lot of love and forgiveness poured out in this home daily!!
What we use...
Both boys are using Math U See. I love it! I taught in the public school system for 12 years, the last 3 years were in a Math classroom so I really researched a lot when I was trying to pick out our curriculum. Math U See just works for us. I love that it digs deep into the concepts taught in the year but doesn't overwhelm you with too many concepts. Andrew is a 3rd grader and has learned his multiplication, double digit by double digit and triple digit by triple digit multiplication. He has also learned how to factor and this week will learn about prime and composite numbers. He has learned a LOT about measurement (how many tsp in a tbsp, feet in a yard, etc).
We have been using My First Language Lessons for Parker (level 2) and Andrew (level 3). I love it. It takes a classical education approach. We've made up a ridiculous amount of songs to help us memorize. Seriously songs are the way to go for our family. We work out daily to our prepositions. Piper (who is 4) could probably name every single preposition (she may have to do jumping jacks while she's quoting them;).
Andrew is using Phonetic Zoo for Spelling. I like it. He's a good speller so I think any curriculum would suit him but he seems to enjoy it. We are using All About Spelling with Parker. I really like the way Phonetic Zoo approaches spelling so I usually modify Park's lesson so it mimics Phonetic Zoo. Phonetic Zoo is an auditory lesson mainly. Andrew listens to a CD where the weekly rule is read several times throughout the quiz and then after spelling the 15 words, he listens to the corrections track on the CD and corrects his work.
We are in a co-op so we use the History and Science they have chosen. For History, we use Mystery of History and we are using Apologia Science (Zoology).
We read a LOT. I think reading out loud to the kids is HUGE! They have learned so much vocabulary. Their comprehension is fantastic. I read the entire Narnia series to them when Parker was only 4 and he can still tell you detail after detail. I try to encourage all mommas and daddies to READ to their children. Turn the tv off and read for an hour as a family at night. There are SOOO many good books. Our kids love this time together but not near as much as I do. Sure, there are times when I am exhausted and it's the last thing I want to do but oh goodness it's been rich for our family. I thank God all the time for His prompting in this area.
We have just started doing some unit studies as a family. (If we were not in a co-op all of our History and Science would be learned through unit studies.) Last month we studied about Australia and the past couple weeks we have been studying about roller coasters. The kids have LOVED this and they have learned so much. We just go to the library and check out 8-10 books and read, read, read. We usually do a couple/few activities along the way and make a little file folder with all the important information.
The best advice I could give as an educator is to continually reflect on WHY you are doing what you are doing and if it's not for student achievement (spiritual, character, educational, etc) then should you be doing it?! Don't feel like you have to heap on a lot of STUFF... just make sure what you're doing provides genuine learning opportunities. Try to tie the new learning to previous knowledge. We don't just want our kids to be able to spit out facts and recall info, we want them to truly grasp and understand the concepts we teach them and be able to apply them. I love Bloom's Taxonomy. They've recently updated it. Here's a link. Try to move your kids past the remembering and understanding steps and dig deeper. Give them opportunities to compare/contrast, evaluate, create/design, etc.
I love teaching!! I loved teaching in the public schools and I love teaching my little ones. I am thankful God has given me this opportunity.
I'm sure I've left off some of the things we do but this is the bulk of it;)


Bugs and Sunshine said...

I LOVE this! Especially the part about reading. This is a discipline I learned late, but has been a HUGE bonding experience for our family!

Couldn't agree more with your thoughts!


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