DS1 just turned 5, and we have been "practicing" homeschooling for the last 6 months or so (obviously parents "home school" from birth, but I mean intentional, directed learning). I've known we would homeschool almost since I was pregnant with him, and have done a decent amount of research on the subject, and thought I had a good plan to use an eclectic approach. But, as is often the case with parenting, theories don't seem to materialize the way we envision them during research. I realized last week that my plan is not going to work. I am, by nature or by learning, an organized learner. I like to sit down with a subject and devote myself to it wholly until I feel I have exhausted the subject or come to a conclusion with it, and then I move on. This method served me well through 18 years of school (I have a Master's degree), and so has been reinforced until I have trouble thinking of any other way to learn. I have discovered that my son does not learn this way, though. I believe he observes and absorbs information, practicing noncommittally, until he suddenly displays mastery of the skill. This is the way he learned to talk, and I think it's the way he's learning math as well. That's all fine, but I'm having trouble reconciling my desire to "teach" him with his inability to sit still and focus on any one topic for any length of time. My family (and DH) think I should simply enforce "school time", and they expect me (and DS) to be able to discuss what we learned throughout the week. DS is a very smart kid, likes working with patterns, addition, and hands-on stuff. He LOVES "experiments" which he uses to describe almost any hands-on project we try in the kitchen. But he can't seem to focus very effectively. I feel like that's a skill he should learn, but I don't really want to use "school" to teach him for fear it will make "school" a chore/unpleasant for him.
I came to this realization when we took a car trip to Florida for a funeral, and afterward I thought it would be a great lesson to get on Google Earth and do some geography, looking at the places we went, and also discussing topics of place (distances, concepts of Earth, ocean, continents, countries, states, towns...). He was interested for all of about 3 minutes before asking if we were finished and could he go play a game. I know kids his age don't have long attention spans, and that's fine, but how can he learn anything in 3 minutes? I guess what I'm looking for here is some support and some suggestions as to methods or strategies that may work to make me feel like I'm being a good homeschooling mom, and him feel like he's learning fun things at his own pace. I think he leans toward unschooling (which needs to be re-named, by the way), but I don't know that I'm disciplined enough to really do that. I am also dealing with a 7 month-old, and a tight budget, both of which can complicate homeschooling. I'll admit, I'm not good at preparing ahead of time for lessons/crafts, either, and would appreciate any advice about how busy moms accomplish this on a regular basis. I don't want to resort to a "canned" curriculum at this point, either.