Learning Style? Curriculum? Help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 07-02-2014, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Learning Style? Curriculum? Help!

I don't see a good option for my 4.5yo son other than homeschool. He is a very high needs child, extremely active and does not sit still for long unless very engaged and rarely will play on his own. He would likely be diagnosed with ADD and branded as a problem child early on. He loves being read to, make-up stories, playing cars. He does not like arts and crafts, building blocks, etc, just wants me to do it for him. He does have some sensory issues and is working with an OT. I LOVE the idea of unschooling but I am lacking confidence and would really like a friendly/inexpensive curriculum to get us started. I would love to gear it towards his learning style but I don't know that I've really identified it? How do you really know? I like the idea of Sonlight but a bit too much religion for my taste and $$, I believe Calvert would be too structured/restrictive and $$, Oak Meadow would be a top choice but a waste since my son doesn't like arts/crafts. So the 2 that seem good candidates are Five in a Row and Moving Beyond the Page. Any thoughts/suggestions? None are cheap and I am afraid of purchasing only to find that it's a waste... Comments/suggestions? It's all quite overwhelming the more I research and read...phew. Thanks!!

Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
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#2 of 9 Old 07-02-2014, 09:05 PM
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I would skip the "all in one" curriculums. What goals do you have for his first 3 years of "school" --I am referring to K-2nd grade.

In general, public school children will learn to decode words and move towards independently reading. They will learn basic math: patterns, adding, subtracting, telling time, and shapes. Science and social studies are generally a couple unit studies done during the year. Children will learn to write in print, form basic sentences, and exercise creative writing. Actually, our school district started putting more emphasis on writing recently. I think it is overkill (possibly common core related) and I am happy we aren't there anymore. Our public school has pretty much thrown in the towel regarding spelling. This, I think, is a bit sad. However, I didn't like the method they used before, so it isn't much of a loss.

I mention this because those goals can easily be accomplished with very little curriculum.
1. Continue to read to him--lots!
2. Find out what he is interested in. Get books about that, find an activity about that. This is the beginnings of a unit study.
3. Introduce him to something you think he might be interested in. If he doesn't respond well, drop it. If he shows interest, you have another unit study. If in #2 , he came up with something for science, I would find something about social studies for #3 . Here, we look at a different country each month. Find it on the map, find a couple facts, learn to count to 10 in the language, read folktales from the country, cook something from that country, and watch a children's video about that country.
4. Be his scribe as he makes up stories. Show him how you wrote the words. Teach him to write his name. If he resists writing, use sticks and form the letters. You can draw the letters on the sidewalk and have him run to them as you call their name. Keep things active.


Anyways, think of what you actually want him to learn. There can be value in some sit down work, but you don't want to kill the joy of learning either. Sometimes, feeling tied to a curriculum can kill a mom's joy of teaching too. My youngest just finished 2nd grade. We did the country study for social studies. We explored a variety of things for science. She also tagged along with her older sisters when their science interested her. She Wanted to do cursive, so she did a workbook for that. We use singapore math along with lots of hands on math. We used Explode the Code to reinforce phonics skills. I read to her daily, she read to me daily. Those were books that we had or that we got from the library. We wrote stories when the mood took us there. She liked to write letters, so she did that more often. Total "school" was about an hour a day (according to her). I think she was learning most of the day. She just thought of it as school when it involved a workbook or her reading to me. That was 2nd grade though. I think most of kindy can be done through play.

I have heard good things about Five in a Row though.

Amy

Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#3 of 9 Old 07-03-2014, 11:10 PM
 
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For the early years I tend to focus on letting them learn math and reading as they are interested and then we learn anything else by interest alone. I have really liked Math U See for a math curriculum especially for my DS. It is mastery based and comes with dvd for lessons, book for teaching, and manipulatives to use. He will watch the video and catch on to the idea. It really helps to get his interest if he can watch the short lesson. Starfall was amazing to keep them entertained also and learning early phonics/reading as well. Really I just let it go by their interest until about 7 when we start to fill in the gaps and learn a little more structured.
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#4 of 9 Old 07-04-2014, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate your thoughts and ideas, I am really trying to wrap my mind around how he learns best and I don't really want to push formal academics until he is closer to 7 and even then, not really push. I have managed to find a few inexpensive used curriculum guides to just get my brain going a bit but I know I will need to keep checking in about my own lack of confidence. I definitely have and continue to feel the pressures of the 99% majority doing preschool and now kindergarten and elementary schools are the big issue. That and a good friend who homeschools her daughter is doing lots of academic work at home, has a fully planned, self-designed curriculum and her daughter loves it. But, alas, this is not me or my child. It's just hard to take the less-traveled road and be confident that you are on the right path. Thanks again!

Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
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#5 of 9 Old 07-05-2014, 07:48 AM
 
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Look through the posts on this forum. There have been some really helpful non-curriculum posts that are real confidence boosters. Let's see if I can dredge some up to link. I'm not pushing no-curriculm as much as helping you boost your confidence in your ability to do this. (It is pretty overwhelming, then you get going and you kind of forget you ever had anxiety about it in the first place, at least that's my experience).

I highly recommend starting to keep little notes on a calendar about what your child does during the day that seems "schoolish" to you. I would fold up a regular piece of paper 3 times, which makes 8 sections, use a Sharpie to date each section and maybe draw along the folds. Stick it to the fridge with a pencil stuck next to it and jot down anything you already do during the day.

This will help you see that you and son are already doing a lot of work. When I did it for several months, it became a huge confidence booster

Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#6 of 9 Old 07-05-2014, 09:40 AM
 
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I agree with all above posts!

I wanted add one thing. To me preK/K is all about exploring the world. Learning everything...because just about everything is new. Go out and explore. Come home and explore. Look at things together and watch what he does. Where does he want to go back? Where does he want to stay away? What books does he want to read over and over till it is coming out of YOUR ears? Then go with the flow.

Just my $.02

Edit to add- This will lead to sit down stuff in time
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#7 of 9 Old 07-05-2014, 11:27 AM
 
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I think new-to-homeschooling moms often get it backwards: they figure they'll start with some curriculum structure when their kids are young so they feel like they have something to go on, and then they'll gradually move to a more child- and interest-led approach as they gain confidence. It sounds sensible from the parent's perspective, but the thing is that the youngest children are the ones who are the least well suited to structured curriculum. They are all over the map developmentally, they are completely in touch with exploratory self-driven learning, they have short attention spans, and they have big needs for activity. They are the kids who are least likely to thrive under the structure of some curriculum-writer's plan.

The other thing is that their learning styles are changing, because learning modalities are developmentally-dependant at this age. Babies learn a lot by mouthing things. Toddlers learn a lot through gross motor play (whacking stuff together, pushing things over, climbing, throwing). Typical preschoolers learn a ton through auditory language and social means: imaginative play that involves story-telling, asking a million questions, narrating and re-narrating things that excite them, and so on. It's all part of growing up, these changing affinities for activities and learning. Only around the age of 7 or 8 did I begin to see my kids' learning styles settling out into more consistent patterns.

The thing is, though, that kids are amazing learning machines and unless you take charge of their lives by imposing significant limits on their capacity for exploration and self-determination (by, say, sequestering them in a crowded room with lots of rules, and doling out learning opportunities in small controlled amounts designed primarily to facilitate crowd control i.e. by enrolling them in kindergarten) it's hard to go wrong. Sure, if you limit kids' innate capacity for learning by asking questions, natural social interactions, exploration and play by putting them in a school classroom, you'd better put some careful thought into how to replace all that good natural learning through curriculum planning. But that's only necessary when for some reason their natural ability to learn is restricted. You really mostly just to have lead a reasonably varied life, be willing to include them in what you're doing, and otherwise get out of their way as they explore and question their way to all sorts of great learning.

Miranda
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#8 of 9 Old 07-07-2014, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, yes, you all are why I keep coming back when my insecurities start rearing up. Miranda, you so perfectly described exactly how I feel about learning and just seem to forget when I keep hearing about preschools/kindergarten, "my kid is writing/reading...blahblahblah". I truly feel the hardest part of this journey for me will be going so far away from the mainstream way of doing things. I am so thankful for this online community!!

Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
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#9 of 9 Old 07-16-2014, 11:53 PM
 
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It sounds like you are wanting to do child led learning and relaxed academics that will suit your child's interests and needs and are only really concerned about not doing enough or teaching the right things? If that's the case and you're just worried that you'll fall behind or miss something important then I would recommend searching the curriculum guides or scope and sequence for the grade you're teaching. It will give you guidelines for what your child needs to learn that you can loosely follow for ideas and check to see how progress is going. There are some books on this type of thing also. I really like the Ed Hirsch books. They have a lot of information and calm my nerves when I start thinking that we might be missing something important for whatever grade. I think the World Book scope and sequences available online are a decent starting point. If you look at the next grade up as well you can see a lot of the times things to be learned over lap from grade to grade also giving you longer times to hit those benchmarks if you want to. It can also be encouraging (to me at least) to see how we might not have learned X this year yet but we actually already know Y and Z for the next grade level. You might find that encouraging.

I also agree with the pp above that suggested browsing the unschooling forums here as they're very informative and helpful.

Michelle mom to DD , DS , & lil DD plus and spending my days
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