Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Staying True to the Spirit of the Plan

Days one and two are done. I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be. All of the curriculum hadn't arrived on time. And yet, we had two wonderful days of gently rolling back into the school cycle.

It's difficult to do things differently than everyone else. Not until this summer was I confident enough in our decision to homeschool that I finally gave up the need to explain what and why we were doing this to anyone who had a comment about it - and believe me, some of the comments are incredibly judgemental. The changes for the positive in our children is reason enough for me. Not that they had problems to begin with, it's just that they are so much more their "true" selves after a year of learning at home. They are happy, so we are happy.

Our plan is eclectic. Not unschooling, but not traditional either. I have borrowed ideas and methods from: Classical, Waldorf, Montessori and Charlotte Mason models of education. And each child seems to need a different mix. That's the beauty of homeschool.

We read endlessly, aloud together and independently; study poetry; go on nature walks every morning; write in all different formats and for all different reasons - from postcards that will be read internationally to stories and plays, perhaps for our eyes only; make art, art and more art; experiment with messy science projects and grow gardens. And then there's language, both Spanish and Latin. Spanish, for obvious reasons, and latin because it will help so much with vocabulary & comprehension throughout their lives. Math is interactive, kinesthetic and full of manipulatives and games. The history curriculum is called, "Story of the World." And that's what it is, chronologically from beginning to present. Weekly piano classes with an amazing teacher is a favorite of theirs.

Our plan also involves connecting our children to others and their "passions". I am not particularly passionate about science, but there are volunteers at OMSI throughout the exhibits and labs who are! I can stand quietly aside while the kids get plugged into their passion. We are fortunate to have access to 2 science museums and will attempt to get to one each week.
Through the incredible organization of an area homeschool group, we'll be on field trips several times a month to an incredible variety of venues.

Every week includes a trip to the library for independent study about a topic of their choice with a presentation at the end of the week to share their discoveries.

We want to teach our children that they have a responsibility to help in their communities and so volunteering will be a regular activity as well.

They'll be continuing on their soccer teams; starting 4H and attending a weekly knitting group.

The above is the goal. Will we make it? Not sure. I'm sure it will need to be tweaked quite often.

Mainly, we need to just keep reminding ourselves that we aren't trying to recreate a classroom at home and stay true to the spirit of the plan.

I started off the school year by giving each child a basket filled with goodies needed for the year. To each item, I attached a sticky note with an explanation as to why it was included. Markers said "To keep things colorful"; a box of tea "To keep things calm"; several skeins of yarn for an ongoing blanket project said "To create something to keep you warm." There was a cute monogrammed ovenight bag for my oldest that read "To stay in touch with your friends" - this was difficult for us last year and we're hoping to do better this year. They really loved this whole idea and I will do it again in the future. Sorry the pictures are so dark. They were taken in the middle of the night when the kids were asleep.

Favorite happening today: The burrito bar for bunnies that 2 of my daughters set up in the backyard for their pets. I love watching my 8 year old play like this and connect with her 4 year old sister. They are a sweet duo.

Grateful for today.

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