Sunday, June 1, 2014

What Relaxed Homeschooling Looks Like to Us

 Now that we have completed our first full year of homeschooling , I wanted to reflect a bit on what worked for us and what didn't work for us.
I knew when we started homeschooling, I wanted to take a relaxed approach. I knew that I wanted the majority of my children's learning to be interest based. However, because we started off homeschooling mid-year last year after Brandon attending K-3 in a public school and 4th and most of 5th grade in a public charter school, I knew that we would need a significant amount of time to spend on de-schooling him.

In the beginning, I gave him a folder each week of his assignments for that week. He chose most of what he wanted to learn about, but I gave him the assignments based on the interests. We made up a schedule so he would know when to switch between subjects. As he got more used to being homeschooled, I lessened the assignments and began working on providing lots of learning resources.  

I came across a Bible based curriculum, where each subject's work for the day is based off the day's biblical reading. We began using that in January for his Bible studies, spelling/vocabulary, grammar and we used some of the history and science assignments and Brandon supplemented his other subjects based off his interests. As time went on, we still felt that wasn't quite how we wanted our homeschooling to be. 

In March, we got a family membership to a local museum. We have been going there at least twice a month since then. My kids have really enjoyed this! Brandon is a history buff so he has especially enjoyed it and Daniella has been able to do a lot there as well. The museum offers homeschooling classes as well as a preschool program so we have definitely taken advantage of those as well.
We then switched to a new way of learning. Brandon has really excelled with this.
Mondays he does Math during the morning. He has a logic workbook, a pre algebra cd rom, a finance workbook and more to choose from. In the afternoon, he does music. He uses apps to learn about music history and about composers, plus he is teaching himself how to read music and play his keyboard. He also has a Nutcracker cd rom that is teaching him about music components and how to determine an instrument by sound, etc.
Tuesday mornings he learns about Science. This he primarily does by books he finds of interest at the library. He also has various educational cd roms and DVDs that he uses. Plus a lot of YouTube. In the afternoon, he does nature studies. He goes for nature walks (he likes to find stuff to examine with his microscope and magnifying), gardens, learns about composting, botany and more.
Wednesday mornings are dedicated to writing. He does his spelling words, vocabulary words, sentences, story, etc. He does his grammar assignments as well. During the afternoon, he focuses on photography and animation which are two career paths he is considering.
Thursday mornings he works on history. Again, mostly interest based from library books. He does integrate his Little Passports USA Edition, fifty states studies, presidential studies , etc as well. In the afternoon, he switches gears to do art which is part of the career path he wants to consider.
Fridays are for foreign languages. In the morning he does Spanish immersion DVDs, CDs, books, etc. We work on Spanish grammar and vocabulary, too. Each month heads a new vocabulary list. He writes a few sentences in Spanish each week, too. In the afternoon, we switch to Sign Language which is another interest of his that may turn into a career path as well. We do his weekly spelling test in sign language. He learns to translate toddler books and sings into sign language.
Ever since we began using this schedule, his school days have really improved. He is showing significant learning gains. I truly believe it is because he can immerse himself in what he's learning and not be worried about what is next on his schedule.