Note: Perhaps a better name for this thread would be homeschooling preschool aged children? Not all of us are doing preschool, I see lots of people doing kindergarten here...
Not trying to step on any toes!
I'm home educating my 3 year old (just this week
) son BeanBean and my 16 month old daughter, BooBah.
I'm very happy to see this thread, because it's not here to debate the definition of homeschooling.
At any rate: BeanBean is doing classical kindergarten (mostly) and BooBah is jumping in to join us whenever she can.
I'm not about pushing my kids, but I do want to keep them challenged and stay a step or two ahead of them, so that they have to work to keep up. Right now, the greatest challenge that BeanBean faces is holding still for 15 minutes at a time (though he's getting better as he becomes more interested in the material I'm presenting to him). Classical kindergarten focuses on basic math skills and reading; the classical curriculum that we're using (The Well-Trained Mind) doesn't technically start until first grade. They just advise that you do a lot of reading with your child, work on building reading competence and confidence as well as very basic math stuff. We're using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (a phonics-based program which is very simple to use even if you're not a reading education geek, a formally trained educator, or someone who has lots of time, energy, and money to put into teaching your kids to read), Singapore's Primary Math 1A (I need to get the workbooks
), and we started First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind this week (a grammar text which BeanBean and I *love*).
If I could afford to move my piano (and I knew that it would fit up the stairs to my apartment
) I would totally start teaching BeanBean to play; as it is, I just play classical music for them whenever I have the chance. I took some French discs out of the library so that I can work on my pronunciation, and I'm looking for Hebrew (which I read and understand a lot of but no longer speak fluently
) because I would really really really like to introduce foreign languages into their lives. All that we can do there, though, is watch DVDs in other languages (and I do, all the time; how many times have you seen the Harry Potter movies in French and Spanish?
) so we do that. Right now, we have a super crappy computer and an obscenely slow dial-up connection, so we can't do lots of fun stuff online at home, but the ILs have DSL and a brand new computer, so BeanBean and I have been playing games together on weekends.
I guess I feel like I'm not doing enough.
The kids have so many more interests, and I know that BeanBean is capable of sopping up so much more but a very tight budget makes it impossible in many cases.
We do what we can, though.
We read *constantly*, though I rarely take the kids to the library anymore-- they run in two different directions and it's impossible for me to keep an eye on them. BeanBean loves my selections, though; I bring back books for us to read together as well as books about things that he's asked for (airplanes, sometimes specific models) or things which he's expressed an interest in but hasn't specifically asked for a book about (leaves; he was soooo pleased to see that one, he threw his little arms around me and kissed me before he said, "Thank you for getting a book about leaves! I really like that!"
). Tonight in the car, he asked me if I would go to the library and get a book about giraffes.
Oooookay, no problem.
The kids do lots of science-y things, and I'm considering "formally" introducing biology (BeanBean especially is extremely interested). By some definitions, I'm sure that we already have but there's been no order to it and I *like* order, so I may start doing some orderly science work with the kids. I haven't had a chance to look at any books in person; I'm going to see what the library has the next time that I'm there. In the meantime, we'll continue chatting about animals, insects, and human reproduction (which is of great importance to BeanBean, who's going to be a big brother for the second time in April
Last week, we collected leaves for an art project. The kids absolutely loved it, and when they finished and ran around to play I got a great opportunity to turn my compost.
It's starting to get cold, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to get the kids outside more and take them for more walks. This is difficult because I'm pregnant right now and I've been having problems with sciatica.
There's always something, though, right?
Oh! BeanBean is also taking swimming lessons at the Y. They're going pretty well, and I think that they will get better till the end. I'm really hoping that we can swing another session for him.
BooBah is dragging me kicking and screaming into homeschooling her, too. She woke me up a bit ago by tossing Primary Math 1A at my head and saying, "count?"
The two of them really love doing things together-- if one child is sitting and counting, the other will nearly always join in so BeanBean ended up on my lap as well.
BooBah's learning to recognize letters, numbers, quantities, and her body parts.
She's a funny baby.
I'm planning to start doing first grade when BeanBean is a fluent reader (he's not there yet). I'm not sure when that will be.
Anyway, we'll start Story of the World, maybe MCP Phonics (maybe not, he may not need that at all by the time we get started) Spelling Workout, and of course continue with the Singapore math and FLL. We'll see where BooBah is by then. Even if absolutely nothing changes between now and her third birthday, I will start her education within a few months of her third birthday.
Something occurred to me over and over as I was going through my ill-fated thread; In many countries and cultures, three year olds go to kindergarten. Not preschool or prep for kindergarten, but actual kindergarten. They do very well, too; more is expected of them, so they *do* more. It's absolutely amazing to me. I was raised Jewish. You know that line from "Fiddler on the Roof" that the sons sing? "At three I started Hebrew school/at ten I learned a trade..." I think that the idea that formal education can and should begin at three was firmly embedded in my mind before I ever had children, as a cultural memory, kwim?
Why am I home educating my children? I hated school and never associated school with learning or education. When I was in seventh grade, I participated in a program called MathCounts! which I enjoyed immensely. At the competition, I sat and read the program guide (because I'm odd like that). The teams were listed by school-- "School X" and then the team captain, second, two members and an alternate or two. I saw two teams listed as homeschoolers. I was thrilled! I knew when I saw that that it was possible to keep your kids home from school, to not send them at all and I decided right away that it was what I would do.
Everything that I've learned since that time has only solidified my resolve to home educate my children. I went to a college that was founded as a normal school-- a school for teachers-- and was still well known for it's excellent programs for future educators. Listening to these teachers-to-be talk about their classes was enough to carve my decision to home educate in stone.
Of the dozens (hundreds?) of education majors that I met, I would only consider allowing two of them within 20 feet of my children and neither of them planned to teach in PA.
My niece started kindergarten the year that BeanBean was born. That year, on the playground, she was held by two larger boys from her own class while another boy from a first grade class kicked her repeatedly in the shins. That's not the scary part-- it didn't even occur to her to tell the playground monitor, the teacher, or her own mother what had happened. She didn't say a word about it until my mother was putting her into the bathtub that evening and noticed the black and blue marks all up and down her legs.
She'd already internalized the idea that violence against little girls was okay (this was several months into the school year) and that the teachers were not on her side. It was horribly depressing to me on so many levels.
I started doing research on homeschooling while I was still in junior high school.
I learned about several different schools of thought, state laws and requirements, and local accomodations. It wasn't until BeanBean was older, though (10 months?), that I decided on classical education after reading "The Well-Trained Mind." I borrowed that book from the library three times before I saved enough money to buy a copy of the second edition.