Spotlight on Leftfield Sept 16-22
I'm doing my intro this morning and then I'll update later today. I volunteered to go 2nd on the spotlight list, because I'm a little nervous. I was nervous that I'd lose my nerve to do this, so I figured it was good to just do it while I felt emboldened.What We Do...
I'm a SAHM to two boys, ages 6 and 3. Benji is 6 and Tommy will be 4 next month. I refer to our style of homeschooling as “quasi unschooling”. I think it's unschooling, but I get a little confused by the discussions of the definition so I feel most comfortable describing us this way. We quasi unschool, mainly because my kids are very self-motivated, busy people and they resist instruction; on some days, I may only see them in passing for much of the day. They seem to thrive in this environment, particularly my oldest so this is what we do. I'm not married to the philosophy; it's more of a case of “this works for us right now”. It will be interesting to see how things evolve as time goes by. Right now, we follow up on the kids' interests, share interests, and go to interesting places. Sometimes, Ben takes a class in something that interests him, but as we are all introverts, we tend to be homebodies.Our Journey to Homeschooling...
Dh and I approached the notion of homeschooling when our oldest son was a toddler. Ben was developing asynchronously, which means that he was advanced in some areas and behind in others. All children develop asynchronously to some extent, but this appeared to be out of the norm. At the time, we didn't feel his academic and emotional needs would be met in school. At the same time, we both thought that homeschooling was an absolutely outrageous idea. Still, I felt like my back was up against a wall just dealing with the toddler issues. I read, “Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense” by David Guterson. It was such a convincing read that I felt much better and I was able to bring my husband on board as well. Since then, our reasons for homeschooling have broadened a great deal, with the addition of “We just enjoy it!”
I started reading about unschooling when Ben was a preschooler, I guess. I had my doubts at the time, but it seemed to be the only respectful way of approaching his education. Of course, he was very little; I think I was guilty of overthinking homeschooling before he was even school-aged. At any rate, here we are. It still works for us right now and we're all very happy. Even dh, who was the most suspicious of unschooling, is very supportive of what we do.My Kids and their Interests...
Benji is 6. His main loves are construction, art and science. Ever since he was a toddler, he was the kind of kid that had to be making something all the time. I somewhat keep on top of his creations by using a digital camera and keeping a family webpage, in addition to labeling and saving the favorites. But at the height of his drawing phase, I had to go through about 100 drawings a week for archiving/or/recycling! It's hard to keep on top of. Right now, he's in a paper construction phase. He's made things from a paper campfire with reloadable marshmallow sticks to flat human anatomy assemblies out of construction paper and scotch tape. I have a pile that I need to go through in my room. I feel happy that he can spend hours a day doing this, alone, with no constraints; this is as important to his development, IMO, as any subject that would be taught in First Grade.
He loves any kind of science, so most of the things that would be called “academic” in our homeschooling fall into the realm of science. Since he is so hard to keep up with in science, I started buying science curriculum as a form of strewing. We read the books when he wants to, in whatever order he wants to, for as long as he wants to. I have no academic expectations or learning objectives. It's a way of feeding his interests. He is very good at letting me know when he's disinterested. Subsequently, we may not touch the curriculum books for 2 months or we may blow through chapters in one week. Last year, we used Noeo Chemistry I. This year, we're using Real Science 4 Kids Biology I, with most of his interest being focused on cells. He is also very into human anatomy right now. He doesn't really read independently (just individual words) but he pores over his DK Visual Encyclopedias on human anatomy and skeletons; he's taught me some things!
And he also loves to play, of course. He plays for most of the day. He's very introverted, like the rest of our family, so he is really happy to play at home for most of the time. Sometimes, it can be a challenge just to convince the kids to leave the house! Oh, and he also loves books. He loves being read to and he is addicted to audio books right now. As mentioned, he doesn't really read independently yet and we're not sure what he can read, due to him being a private person. He's basically been teaching himself to read, with very minimal help. And he loves geography, dinosaurs, evolution, insects, big architectural landmarks (e.g. Leaning Tower of Pisa), volcanoes...what have I left out?
Tommy will be 4 at the end of next month, although he's been insisting he's 5 since he was 1. He's like our family entertainer. He's very charming and funny, although he is shy in groups of people. He really loves music, singing, dancing, soccer and cooking. He has a thing for musical instruments, so I keep my eye out for kids' concerts in our city. He likes to make up stories and plays; sometimes we are conscripted into his little plays. He also loves trains, books and books about trains. ;-) He is also frequently interested in what interests Ben. He thinks that Ben is the best brother a guy could have, so he follows him around for most of the day. Ben is usually very patient with him and the two, minus the fighting, are best friends.
Our favorite places to go are the park, the library, the Art Museum, Science Museums, the Children's Museum, the Automotive Museum (that's dh's thing, however) the zoo, our new friends' house, etc. Dh shares a lot of scientific and mechanical interests with the kids, in addition to geography. I share an interest in art, biology and geography. I run and compete in races, which unintentionally led to both kids having an interest in racing. So, sometimes, I look out for shorter races for them, while trying to make sure they don't overdo it with their young bodies.
As a family, we love to travel. We joke that dh's family has a travel gene, as they get around quite a lot. I'm American but dh is British. We feel appreciative that we have the opportunity to visit the UK every year or two. My Ils love visiting the U.S. too, so we often meet up in different places (the last place was Washington D.C.). Now that the kids are older, out of diapers and easier to take around, I would really like to travel to parts of Europe when we visit the UK. I'd like to take advantage of our homeschool lifestyle to travel at off-peak times. I see travel as being a key resource in our homeschooling lifestyle.Where We Are...
We live in the South-East region of the U.S. We're near a large county seat that has a surprising amount of cultural diversity and commerce due to industry development. We've been living in the suburbs, but we are building a house in a rural area very close by. We will have 4 acres in a planned neighborhood where the minimum acreage is roughly 4 acres. We'll still be 5 minutes from the Interstate, which puts us about 30 minutes from the county seat that we call “the city”. I'm so excited, but I'm a little nervous too.
Right now, we're living in an apartment while we build our house, which is a bit of a transition for us. When we lived in our old house, the kids would play outside in the fenced backyard by themselves for hours. Now, we no longer have that luxury so I'm trying to compensate by getting them out more. Much of our good stuff is in storage. Some previously proposed activities have to be postponed due to the mess it would make in our rented apartment, space considerations, etc. We're looking forward to the new house, where I hope to eventually have a homeschool workshop/lab/messy room in the basement and where we will immediately have use of a deep laundry room sink and counter space.Pictureshttp://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y6/hrk72/Homeschool/
I put captions in the slideshow so you'll know what you're looking at. I think I have 6 pictures of my 3 year old, 6 group pictures and then 6 pictures of my 6 year old. You can click on one picture and then arrow through the rest.
We're going out for the day so I'll check back later this evening!