And then we became a homeschooling family.

We have decided to homeschool, not for our kids entire education, but for now. Over the last two years Craig and I have had a lot of discussions about this decision and I am excited to actually be starting. Last year we did what I like to call "playschool." We did use a homeschool curriculum, worksheets and intentional learning, but there was a lot of flexibility built in as we were out of country for a month and have been adjusting to our new life of six. This year, we are ready to officially start and it is getting exciting around here!

I have decided to not explain on the blog all of the reasons why we are homeschooling, because this is a subject that has a lot of controversy on both sides. People argue that homeschool kids lack the opportunity for socialization, extra curriculars and how to function within someone else's perimeters. People also argue that traditional schooling teaches to the test, doesn't accommodate various learning styles and lacks teaching on basic life skills. The bottom line is, everyone needs to do what they feel is right for the overall good of their family. I have friends who homeschool, send their kids to private school, are a part of classical educational co-op and send their children to public school. I support all of them! Education is important and there are many ways to receive one here in the USA, and I am grateful for the freedom to choose to teach my children at home.

As I researched the various ways I could teach our children, I discovered that there were MANY different methods out there. It became overwhelming at first and I struggled to make sense of what would be the best for our family. I talked to various people and scoured the internet for clarity and direction. It felt like such a weighty thing to have to decide and stick with for years to come. Just as we found ourselves falling into a natural parenting style, I have found that we fall naturally into a Montessori style education. And it was such a relief to find an education method for our family!

Maria Montessori was quite revolutionary for her time and her education methods are still being used 100 years after she created them. Her basic philosophy is that a child's mind is eager to learn and with the proper environment and gentle guiding, they will teach themselves. If you want to read more about her methods, click here. Montessori focused on practical life skills, math and reading in the early years, adding geography, botany and furtherance of math and reading in the later years. Quality materials are the curriculum.

I purchased this wonderful 512 page e-book which helped to give guidance to Maria Montessori's books and direct me on what to purchase for our homeschooling classroom. It is the best $10.95 I have spent to help whittle down the overwhelming amount of information that is out there on teaching the Montessori way. The author's ideas are simple, easy to follow and cost-saving. Here is what I purchased for our classroom so far, based on this book's suggestions:

Most of the practical life stuff is easy enough to reproduce with things we already own or could acquire at a local thrift store. On the other hand, I knew we needed to invest in sensorial, math and reading Montessori materials as making them would be costly and time consuming. Asher is very excited to start working with all of these items, especially the red rods. He told me that he would use them to make a road for his cars with them. His excitement is contagious when it comes to learning. Both he and Alethea were always overly enthusiastic when it came to the announcement of homeschool time. I want their thirst for knowledge to never be quenched and for Andrew and Simon to follow their example.

Montessori methods and materials are not the only tools we are going to use this year. We have taught our kids to use American Sign Language since birth (and since adoption, for Andrew and Simon), so we are going to continue that education with these ASL flashcards. My mother was a deaf interrupter and it gets me all excited to know that she will be living right down the road in six months! Can we say ASL tutoring classes with Grandmata?!?!

Literature is a large part of our family life and a natural part of our homeschooling studies. Last year we used Sonlight for our playschool and will use it again this year. I love their books on world cultures, fables from around the world and classic American tales. These books are truly a joy to share and explore with my kids and not ones I would find at the library or bookstore. Sonlight combines Craig's literature degree and my missions/world studies degree. It is the best of both worlds and I wish we could afford their curriculum every year.

We are also going to try a new curriculum called Five in a Row. It is a unit based curriculum on books that we can easily obtain through our local library, thereby saving the cost of those books. The basic idea is that you teach reading, literature, science, math, geography and so on from one book. Every day of the week you teach and focus on a different aspect of the book on various subjects. This is something we do naturally as a family, so I know we are going to enjoy furthering this with Five In a Row.

Homeschooling is not for those trying to save money! Things get pricey very quickly and there has to be a lot of planning and forethought to ensure that extra money isn't being used on superfluous things. Many tools, CDs, text books and gadgets could easily make their way into my Amazon shopping cart, but I always have to keep in mind that we have many years ahead of us. I don't have to teach Asher, Alethea, Andrew and Simon politics this year and that human biology can wait until they can read. Every year will build on itself and I will follow my children's leading on their interests, always mindful that learning can be done anywhere with anything. All you need is a willingness to learn and the patience to observe. Here's to a great year of both!


Joe and Alice Waarvik said...

We homeschool too! Welcome to the homeschooling "family". I am just looking into items to get for my children this year... you've given me some good ideas :)

Lara said...

You know what I just thought of, with Sonlight, the way I've purchased my curriculum from them in the past was by printing off a list of the books needed for each Core, then searching used bookstores and Amazon for them. I compared each one to SL's price. In some cases it was more cost effective to just order them from SL. But I did save a lot of money. I've also bought parts of my curriculum on Ebay. But you're right; it is easy to spend a lot of money!