I'm getting ready to homeschool a very inquisitive 8 year old (just turned) and a 5 year old who wants to read. I also will have a 3 year old who will, I am sure, involve himself in everything and a newborn. DS-the 8 year old- would be starting 3rd grade in the fall. He is currently in public. We were thinking of starting sometime july/august depending on summer camps and his interest. My big question is how to divide my time between the 5 year old who will be starting a kindy grade level and a 3rd grade level. I can't imagine much would over lap?
How do you do it? My mom suggested MWF for the older child, TR for the younger and on opposite days they do independent crafts/projects/reading etc...
I think you'll find that home-based learning is much more organic and natural, and less like school grades and classrooms and rigid age- and level-divisions than you think. Homeschooling is not about a parent/teacher imparting information and supervising the "classroom." Think of it as a cross between a Saturday morning at your house and an old-style one-room schoolhouse.
If your eldest ends up doing more than 2 hours of structured work a day in a homeschooling situation he'll be very much an exception. An hour and a half a day in short stints, largely self-administered, perhaps with a parent just checking over his shoulder for an hour of that, would be pretty typical. The 5-year-old would likely only be ready for less structured time. It's very easy to float between two or three children, one busy with math, another doing some printing or mazes, another playing with Duplo or tracing dots or playing with playdough. Easier than trying to devote attention primarily to one whilst dealing with the neediness of two or three others who feel ignored. These short stints of structured work would of course be augmented by plenty of life-learning and experiential multi-age stuff like afternoons riding bikes or creating a garden or building things with Snap Circuits, Lego or K'nex, or drawing or creating with clay or learning to bake muffins or cookies or taking nature hikes or engaging in imaginary play. And any reading aloud you do would likely be a very productive learning experience for all your kids.
I think you'll find it is much more natural to include everyone than to try to allocate particular times specifically or primarily to one child. I would resist the tendency to over-plan and over-analyze the issue at this point. Wade into it in the fall and gradually discover the dynamic and rhythm works for you. I'm not saying it'll all work beautifully all the time, but you may be surprised by how you gradually slide into a flow that works for you.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Miranda is right. I have only done one year now, but having done it I understand what everyone was saying before I started. :)
School takes longer at school because there is a lot of classroom management, making sure everyone understands, etc. When you are one-on-one with your child it is a LOT easier and kids can learn in less time.
I haven't embraced unschooling wholeheartedly like Miranda has, but having been doing this for a year I also understand the perspective a lot more now than I did before. My 5yo learned to read (still a beginner, but she gets it). I didn't teach her to read. I have given her tools to help her learn more, but honestly I just recently realized I was giving her tools that were not helping her much (because they were for practicing things she already understood anyways). She's still learning, don't get me wrong, and isn't fluent. But my point is, it clicked in her brain because she was ready. We read a lot as a family, and I helped her try different things to learn, but ultimately I don't think those things helped much. My then 3 now 4yo was along for the ride for a lot of this and is picking up reading as well. But it's not because I have sat down and TAUGHT it to him. We answer his questions when they come up.
Anyway, that was long. I personally found that having a flexible cirriculum was a great way for me to start out. I may get one again this next year, or not. I'm not sure. We used the sonlight core for K, and I can easily see how that type of a core cirriculum would work well for a broad age span. You read good books that are fun - different ages understand the content at different levels - everyone gains and learns from it (even me!).
Thanks! I figured once I jumped in, things would be easier. I had thought we would set up a 'school room'. My kids are easily distracted, especially my oldest, he's borderline ADHD (though not formally diagnosed, he is very gifted but can not sit still). I was planning or thinking we would 'go to school' daily and work on our lessons, then during breaks come back to our 'living space' for playtime, down time, meals, etc.
I have been seriously looking at LifePac and Sonlight. Do you have thoughts on that?I'm okay with unschooling, but my oldest will go off on a tangent in the middle of a tangent (todays topic? How do you make water from nothing- which whittled down to how does oxygen combine with hydrogen and how can you break them apart). It's fine if he wants to learn that, but to just jump in the middle of a variety of topics without necessary pre-knowledge, well, that's easier now without a newborn, but I fear what will happen when there is a newborn.
What are your thoughts on these things?
I plan on sorting through some of our toys for 'play bins' for the 2/3 year old to do while I work with the other two, but I see lots of playdoh for both him and the kindy boy. I see letter practice for both with playdoh, but I can also see my oldest wanting to stop what he was doing to play with playdoh too. Obviously, this is just speculation.
Yeah, sorry, the "core" that I used covered history, geography, religion, social studies, and "biographies" (we did science and language arts with this together too, but that was because my younger child tagged along for everything and wanted to be involved at 3/4yo).
You certainly could do it that way. Some families do.
On the other hand, I think that would very much reduce your ability to multi-task and to have your kids' learning interwoven with everyday life in ways that allow them individualized attention. For instance, if your 8-year-old wants to do 20 minutes of math, he can do that at the breakfast nook in the kitchen while you're doing supper prep, and you'll be able to keep an eye on the other two who are doing whatever it is in the living room that they want to be doing. He has you there to peek in and give him whatever one-on-one he needs, but you don't have to give up working on supper -- nor do the other kids need to move into the school room, or play unsupervised away from you.
This can play out differently in different families and different houses, obviously. But for our household this sort of easy flow that allows snippets of learning to be woven into the day at any point the child is receptive to them works really well. On the occasions that I've tried to create simultaneous attention to specific activities in several children at once, or to enact a schedule with one or more children, there has always been some rebellion or neediness or "mood" that has got in the way of it all.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Interesting. How do you keep supplies from over taking the house. As it is, it seems like clutter is another resident here and is very demanding of space. We have a big house and I was anticipating using our finished attic to decrease distractions and keep it more normal to what my son has known for 4 years of public. Set up some computers, have a big 'craft' type table along with two desks for each to do some individual work if they need the space. But then I was wondering how inconvient it would be to hike up and down all day (though good exercise! hahah!). Hmm....guess we will see how it goes! I also figured that way at least THAT mess was gone from view! hahaha!
We have a very small house, so perhaps we've arrived at our solution more as a matter of necessity. We certainly have our clutter problems, but it doesn't feel like "school stuff" is much of that. We built a set of shelves behind the piano in the (small) family room and put sliding rice-paper panels in front of them. One shelf is devoted to reference books and textbooks, another to the microscope and tech-tools, another is full of art supplies and then another shelf has a bin for each child's workbook type stuff. When a child wants to do some school work they pull their bin out, grab the requisite booklets and bring them to the kitchen table. We have a bit of stuff overflowing into other parts of the house. The globe lives on a bookshelf on the stairs landing with our immense collection of children's and YA novels. Board games live in a cabinet under the TV. We have a couple of computers in the family room (where internet supervision is possible). But we would have those overflow clutter problems even if we weren't homeschooling. Actually, my elder kids are all in high school as of this year; only my youngest remains as a homeschooler.
If you were going to use the attic room for school, would you bring all your kids up there for supervision purposes, in order to do academic work with one of them? Would that be their play space as well, or would you try to keep it strictly for mom-directed activities? I think it would be quite a challenge to keep everyone busy in the same school space such that distractions were not occurring.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
Our house is relatively small as well. I find that since we do most of our activity in the kitchen on the table that it forces us to clean it up - so we can at least eat supper. :) We do have one very messy pile of papers my children have created on the craft cupboard, but I think that is because my children have a very hard time letting go of every precious coloring sheet/drawing. I recycle portions of it all the time, but it does seem to have the proclivity of bunny rabbits...
As far as organization, I have my desk that closes up, the craft cupboard, and one shelf on the bookshelf in the living room for "school" stuff. I also keep the stuff from the cirriculum that we are not using anytime soon up in a bin in a closet. So now that it is the end of the year, 3/4 of the books are put away in there.
My DH would say it is a bit messy with piles of stuff around my desk - BUT I just had a baby, and I have a number of other projects of my own that have overflowed from my desk and need to be dealt with (I'm still newborn tired). AND, I tend to be a pile maker... :)
Hmm...maybe, as I've often said, we have too much house! LOL! We could use our dinning room table, I suppose. I guess I was just envisioning more 'school' less un-school. Though after talking to my VERY supportive mother, she sees no reason for curriculum-just follow our boys leads...so maybe un-schooling will be more what we end up with (she has offered her assistance as much as possible until she retires then more often after.).
I'm guessing I need to deschool myself more than my kids. I'm very trained as a teacher, very lesson plan oriented very methodical in my own learning and teaching so I don't know how to go about taking my son's tangents and turning them into interesting lessons on the spot.
Check out these books for yourself/deschooling:
I really liked seeing what is out there for cirriculum and getting a slight grasp on different styles from the first book.
The second book is really great for seeing how homeschooling can work (the writer really likes unit studies, but explains other styles), and the third I just read and thought - ahh... If I would have read this last year before I started I would have understood a lot of things about homeschooling and how things work out better before I got into it (Sorry it is all listed this way, somehow the way I linked it I had to write this way).
Oh, and you asked earlier about sonlight. We have really REALLY enjoyed it. I'm not sure I want to pay that much to have someone make the schedule for me this next year, but I might (with the newborn and, well, it was easy/convenient). The thing with a cirriculum is you have to be willing to lay aside a book if you don't like it, even if it means you don't get to check that box off! :)
It so interesting to read other people's way of doing things. Around here, the homeschoolers I know are more "Sit down at X time and start school, keep the routine as much as possible (when life doesn't interrupt for example", buy the curriculum (piece meal if you want), etc. On here, it seems more free flow? maybe. I'm sure we'll find a happy medium!
I think we're going to try Sonlight, but I'm working on whittling down the book list to save money! And my one son's birthday is in August, so he may just get a boat load of books for his birthday!!! I figure for the moment, that might work out best for us (though it seems we'll lose the discount on buying the whole set. I love the books they are recommending and want to see the IG for one year at least to see if it works for us. Sell it off it doesn't work, I suppose. I wish we were close enough for a homeschool conference so I could touch and look at the different options to piecemeal it together.