Where do I start? Well, my boys are currently in grade 1 and Kindergarten. We are living in the province of Quebec, CA this year, but will likely be moving back home (Kansas) this summer. My oldest (age 7 1/2; grade 1) has been formally diagnosed with Severe-Profound Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. I suspect at least some of both with younger son (age nearly 6), but no diagnosis yet. I have, for about a year and a half *thought* about homeschooling my boys, but knew that that would not happen while we were in Canada. So, with a likely move back to KS soon, I have been using time here (Canada) to read as much as I can so that we can make it happen!
I am feeling SO OVERWHELMED! I was educated in a public school system - it is all that I *know*. I saw this yesterday when reading another thread and it resonated with me as being exactly what I feel: Posted by "Wookumus" on another thread: "My usual self-defeating thoughts are: i would never have come up with that, i don't have those supplies/toys/games/curricula, etc., my kids will never do that, i could never do what those people are doing every day. I don't want to be a "bad homeschooler" but I also don't want to define myself by others' opinions." And, I would add: how can I teach them / help them learn all that they want and need to learn? Where do I start? How do I even *DO* homeschooling (i.e., how do I structure a day, how do I determine progress, WHERE do I START???)??
I LOVE the *IDEA* of a Unit Study homeschool education, but have NO IDEA where to start. And, I like the idea of the "classical" education (e.g., "The well trained mind"), BUT the idea of having my boys sit a memorize information is appalling to me (and to them!). They are both dominantly kinesthetic learners, with secondary learning style of auditory and then visual. I would be concerned that ALL I would do all day is read aloud to them....which does not seem like a great education!
There are SO many resources online, but sorting through them and figuring out what we need for our family is making my brain hurt! I have my hope (or "illusion"!) of what I *think* homeschooling could be for us....but I also have the dread of the possibility of them fighting with each all day and/or not being willing to work with me to do schooling!
Ok. Well, if you have made it through all of this; Thank you! :) If you have ANY input or advice on a more concrete "starting point" - or any advice at all, please let me thank you in advance!
Hello! We can all relate to feeling overwhelmed! If you are planning to homeschool, check out Enki Education http://enkieducation.org
This curriculum is so rich and speaks right to the deep issues of nourishing our children through healthy rhythms in our home. If you like the idea of a Unit Study curriculum the upper grades (2-3, for now) have units that include stories, activities, lessons, songs, crafts--thoroughly researched and authenticated in different cultures. Enki has a strong movement component that may help support your child(ren)'s particular needs. And the director Beth Sutton is a very wise and experienced educator that may be able to help you address your child's special needs through paid consultation. Their online google group for Enki users is also a wonderfully supportive online community. They are restructuring their offerings right now, but are having a sale on their curriculums, so you may want to look into purchasing the grade one package now (March 2014)? It will help tremendously that you are researching this now, if you intend to jump in next fall. In the meantime try to relax (I know it's hard). Obviously you love your children and that will get them through these next big transitions of life. Good luck!!!
Not ready with specific advice, but I will start with this: public/formal education is designed to bring a large number of students (often 30 and up) to roughly the same level at the same time. Few teachers will claim that the methods they use are the best method for individual students, and many will say that their education training is of little use to homeschoolers.
While you are hearing ideas, stop using this type of education as a benchmark for what you should be doing. Most homeschooling families, especially those with young children, do far less work, if they do any formal work at all. Even if they follow amore formal approach, they are going to do far less work. Your sons have dysgraphia, so that is going to change the picture *somewhat* compared to families with no learning difficulties, but still closer to that than a public school education.
Hope that takes a load off.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
Take a deep breath. We all go into homeschooling with lots of questions, lots of plans, and sometimes very little guidance. I did not know a single soul who homeschooled before we started to do it and I was so scared. I latched on to Charlottle mason homeschooling and just went for it. We are in our third year now and how gone through so many different iterations--from Charlotte Mason-school at homers, to unschoolers, to now eclectic classical home schoolers. My point it, whatever ideas you have, they will probably change (or maybe they won't but you will know better why they work for you once you put them in practice).
I didn't really use a curriculum when we started, but the well-trained mind materials now and they are fantastic. Most of her stuff is fairly scripted so if you don't know where to start, think about checking some of her books out from the library and seeing if they could give you a good starting point. I bet they would.
I hope this is helpful.
Some great advice already, I don't really have any but just wanted to add that my oldest is 9, never been in school, and I still get moments of feeling overwhelmed! As my children get older things have changed, every year is a bit different.
I believe at younger ages children don't need formal instruction and reading aloud is probably the most important thing. When my children were young my "curriculum" was to read to them as much as possible, lots of free play and spend lots of time outside.
I too liked much of Charlotte Mason's theory. A couple other things I liked for younger children are books from Peggy Kaye (which I borrow from the library) who uses games to teach skills and Five in a Row....http://fiveinarow.com/five-in-a-row/
You sound like you are reading much about homeschooling, I'm sure you will find the way which best suits your family. And it will probably changed as your family does! I wish you well:)
Where do you start? Well, where are the boys at? What do they like doing? Start there. Have they been attending school? You might need some time where you don't do anything obviously school-like at all, especially if there has been frustration related to your son's dysgraphia. Read to them. Bring home interesting books with interesting pictures, regardless of reading level. Since dysgraphia is an issue, I would find the resources where learning can continue without reading and writing-- that includes math. Keep things hands-on, do what you can to make reading time enjoyable, and no pressure.
So much can be learned in the early years without tying it to reading, and I think if reading is a struggle due to dysgraphia, it would be best to keep the two a separate as possible. I don't think you need to find materials with no words, just ones that aren't so dependent on a child reading.
I feel like I still don't have my thoughts together, but here is a list of ideas:
Math and science: board games, video games, cuisenaire rods and games, puzzles, construction sets, TV shows (Bill Nye, Imagineers, Mythbusters), pattern blocks, Sudoku (played with colored pieces instead of numbers if writing is a challenge, nature walks, zoos, science museums, exploration in general, geocaching, travel.
History and "social studies": museums, history books at story time, old-time and cultural festivals, map puzzles and games, geocaching, TV, travel.
These are the subjects I think parents worry about explicit instruction, beyond reading. For reading instruction, I would mostly read to and offer books as I said above. I have no experience with dysgraphia, so beyond what I just said, I wouldn't have advice except to keep the pressure of as much as possible. Your sons might already feel internal pressure from their own expectations, and get overwhelmed by their own frustrations, regardless of how accommodating you are, so be prepared for that.
Hope that's a help to you. The younger years are usually fairly easy. You do not need to be responsible for every nugget of information they get into their heads, in fact the truth is quite contrary to that. Kids are busy learners. Parents for the most part can just get out of the way!
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
I'd suggest just continuing to read aloud to them, and doing occasional fun excursions, just simple things like a picnic as a creekside park or a trip to the pool or a zoo. That's all. Spend your time and energy observing what catches their attention. Document their natural learning, their expressions of enthusiasm ("playing duelling knights, again..."). Take the summer plus a month or more at the beginning of the school year to do nothing but that.
Then, gradually, start making it up as you go along. Pick up a little thread that one or both of them has expressed an interest in and offer something that would delve a little deeper into that. Just occasionally, maybe once or twice a week. See if they gobble it up, or lose interest and turn aside. Use each little attempt as a means of gathering information that will gradually point you more and more in the direction is most suitable for your boys and you.
The biggest mistake I see new-to-homeschooling families make is to deal with the natural feeling of being overwhelmed by buying into a comprehensive curriculum package or methodological approach that promises to simplify everything going forward. It feels good at first to have a plan laid out that is clear and that looks properly serious. But especially when you have children who do not fit the average-learner mould, that tends to end up being a square-peg-in-round-hole situation with a lot of frustration on all sides. You've committed to a plan, and when your kids don't fit the plan perfectly it can be hard to let go before you all feel frustrated and like you're failing.
If instead you use a Making It Up As We Go Along approach, then the mis-steps are small and each one is helpful at guiding the next step in a slightly different direction. It's hard at this stage because you have to rely on whatever confidence you can muster to believe that you will figure it out when the time comes. But trust me: you will! You know your own children far better than any curriculum-writer or homeschooling guru, and you will do great job of figuring out what they need by just muddling along for a while, gradually fitting pieces of the puzzle in. I can pretty much guarantee that by this point next year, you will be truly finding your groove and that will put you so much farther ahead than you would have been if you had devised a Proper Serious Plan ahead of time.
Miranda (still happily muddling along and making it up as I go along after all these years)
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Thank you all SO much for your thoughtful responses and encouragement!
SweetSilver: Both boys are currently in public schools (in Quebec, CA....so definitely similar, but also Quite different than in KS!!!) which means DS1 is in his second year in "formal education" (grade 1) while DS 2 is in his first year (kindy) - part of the difference is that kindy is not required here so Kindy, grades 1 and 2 are quite alot easier than in KS. For what it's worth: I think I am less concerned about Dyslexia and Dysgraphia with homeschooling than I am were they to continue with public education! That is at least part of why I *want* to homeschool in the first place.....given the "dys--" diagnoses - there is no public school that I know of that can teach them both in a way that works best for them!!! Also, there are some really good resources near where we live in KS that I will likely utilize to help (as needed) with that aspect of learning!
moominmamma: "The biggest mistake I see new-to-homeschooling families make is to deal with the natural feeling of being overwhelmed by buying into a comprehensive curriculum package or methodological approach that promises to simplify everything going forward. It feels good at first to have a plan laid out that is clear and that looks properly serious. But especially when you have children who do not fit the average-learner mould, that tends to end up being a square-peg-in-round-hole situation with a lot of frustration on all sides. You've committed to a plan, and when your kids don't fit the plan perfectly it can be hard to let go before you all feel frustrated and like you're failing."
YES - this exactly!!! These are very much my concerns and you voiced them so clearly for me!!!
My boys are SO very smart (e.g. "gifted" - especially ds1) that what I really want is to be able to grow/nurture their love of learning. I began to consider homeschooling when, in Kindergarten (in KS), DS1 would cry/feel extremely frustrated EVERY WEEK - he HATED school. Loved the friends he made and liked his teacher well enough, but school - nope - he hated it....and he was only 1/2 day (thank God!)! Between that and the fact that schools pretty much wait until kids are failing (typically between grades 3-5) before "help" is offered regarding dyslexia or dysgraphia (or many other learning differences!) and DS1s frustration, I thought "there HAS to be a better way"!
SO, I went from a person who has ALWAYS said "Oh, I could never and would NEVER homeschool my kids" to, "hmmmmm, I think this is something I really WANT AND NEED to do!"
I do know myself though, and I also know that I *need* some kind of "planning" in order to set a goal / provide a (flexible) routine each day! And that, is primarily where my "WHERE do I start" feelings come from....and, at least part of, why I like the idea of Unit study type of schooling. I have some pretty good ideas as to my boys' interests (pretty much ANY thing regarding Nature! :) but, again, *I* don't know how to take each interest and grow it into a "lesson" (even if informal)!
Ok. Enough rambling (for now! ;)
Again, thank you for all input, advice and suggestions!!!
I just noticed that I was quoted from a different post by the OP :) Figured I'd better add an update to that post.
You sound a lot like me, I think my biggest hurdle in this homeschooling adventure is me! I was the perfect programmed robot for traditional schooling, straight A's, awards, etc. and now I realize I retained virtually nothing except my Spanish-speaking ability which I pursued through my own passionate work and by seeking out mentors and experiences that supported it. Hmm, sounds a lot like unschooling. When I start to panic that I cannot do this, that my boys will never learn, etc., etc., I just try to remember to TRUST! Trust that they know what to learn, when to learn and how to learn it and trust that I can be a supportive guide in this adventure. It is very hard to break out of molds that are so universally supported.
At the very least, when you are struggling with the process, check back in here, there are many amazing mamas with a multitude of experiences who will support you.
Miranda (yes, another one!)
Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
Laugh it up, fuzzball
I would add in a good intensive phonics based program for your eldest. The Orton Gillingham method or programs based on that is what is recommended for teaching reading to children with dyslexia. I'm currently using Dancing bears Books and Toe-To-Toe with my daughter. I certainly haven't found any program to be a magic pill though. I bought a bag full of Phonic Touch letters this year to add in a kinetic resource and both of my children have enjoyed those. I am still struggling 8 years in to get my daughter reading. I've recently heard good things about The Sound Way from another mum of a profoundly dyslexic child, but it's very expensive.
Apart from the reading struggles we love using literature and hands on activities and some unit studies here and there. I don't know if your son is very creative, it tends to go along with dyslexia, and my daughter certainly is. She loves anything with drawing, craft or drama. I even managed to find a musical grammar book with songs on the parts of speech which has been a big hit. She just recently started piano by ear and that has also been a hit.
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