I am new to this board, but am looking forward to joining the Co-op with my son, who is 3 (uh, well 4 in 2 months!) My husband and I have decided that homeschooling is most definately the route we want to take with our son's education, but I'm kind of at a loss as to where to begin. I've always incorporated lessons into our daily activities, so I feel we've been homeschooling thus far, but I'm looking for ways of better structuring our lessons.
I look forward to getting to know all of you! Rigama
I know you weren't exactly asking for opinions about structure, but I can't resist sticking my oar in. I'm very attracted to structure myself -- I'm just that kind of a person. I've discovered that my son also enjoys structure, knowing what we're doing and when we're doing it. My daughter, at 3, is already asking me "what are we going to do tomorrow? where are we going? Is dad coming? Will it be cold or warm [thinking about wardrobe requirements, I guess]" etc. I suspect she's going to be that kind of person, too.
That said, I don't actually think my kids learn better in a structured way than when learning is just part of our daily routine. I used to be more concerned about the possibility that we'd skip something important if we didn't structure it in, but I don't find that it's actually a problem. Learning happens all the time, regardless. So... I guess I'm just saying don't stress too much about structure, if your son is learning well without structure now. But if you want to get some sort of structure in your life, you might want to consider making special times for special things. My son gets stressed about transitions between activities, so one thing we do like is to plan to have certain things follow other things in a regular way. For example, after breakfast, we play math games. After lunch, we draw or do Spanish. Before dinner, we read a chapter or two in our current read-aloud book.
I have to agree. I am usually very structured (not that you could tell recently - I feel very disjointed) At any rate, my kids don't do well with A LOT of structure. Don't get me wrong there is some schedule in the house - my OCD tendencies wouldn't have it any other way. However, we set up the "have to dos" the "want to dos" and the "would be nice to dos" in our house. You have to go with what works best for you and yours. There are lots of structured boxed curriculum out there. Pros are you have the structure and a set curriculum. Cons are if your kids hate it they will rebel and everyday will be a battle. Some boxed sets have some flexibility. For instance, we use some of Sonlights stuff (the history core) and for language arts we use explode the code, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons supplemented with great library books. We do handwriting but to be honest I'm not that thrilled with any of the ones we've used although they are all highly recomended. For math we've been winging it with workbooks, but we're starting the Singapore math series. We do Science with Real Science 4 Kids and are starting the Explora classes. As well as multiple other things. There are a lot of options out there. I would suggest looking around. Sonlight sells a lot of different packages and they have online samples of most everything they sell so their website is nice even if you don't buy from them. There is also a website that reviews curriculum (wwww.homeschoolreviews.com) but again, just other people's opinions. What worked for my DD 6 might not work for you, but I looked at Sonlight, Calvert, read on the boards, asked around about what people were using. Then, I choose what I thought would work for us and would fit into our budget. A lot of the "boxed sets" are pricey. You pay for the convience. There are also a lot of free worksheets online that I've been able to find although your little one might be a bit young for "seat work". I know it all seems very overwhelming right now (and there will be times in the future that are overwhelming as well) but try to take a deep breath. Do what works for you and your child. Sorry this got a little long and winded...... Good luck Jo-Anne
Every now and again I look at my son and realize HOLY COW, HE'S ALMOST KINDERGARTEN AGE!!!! and I freak out a bit. I've been to Learning is Fun and so many bookstores I lost count, looking for good Ethan-appropriate workbooks or lesson plans. I guess I'm feeling a little like...well a chicken with no head! There are soooo many options but I'm just not sure what to look at first. Some things that say "Ages 5-6" or Grades K-1 are right where he seems to be, but others aren't KWIM? I'd hate to buy materials only to have him under-challenged or overwhelmed. I also want to make sure I give him all the opportunities to learn that he needs. In my opinion, he's a pretty bright kid and he thrives on learning new things. I just am not feeling like I'm cohesive in my approach. One week we'll go to the library and get tons of books on space, the next week we'll do books on math concepts or the body. Kinda whatever he's interested in at the moment. But then as soon as we get home he'll ask me questions that I can't answer! (yesterday he wanted to know what made a magnet stick to some things but not to windows). I told him that magnets attract objects with opposite polarity (uh, I think! I was in the car and he needed an answer!). That wasn't enough. He had to know what polarity is. I suggested a trip to the library, and he said "No thanks. I just wanted to know now." Sheesh, i'm kind of rambling here and I don't even know if I'm asking a specific question! It's kinda scary, being the sole person in charge of my son's education, but I'm so relieved that I am not the only person to have tread this path.
It sounds like you are already doing a wonderful job homeschooling. I find that the best way to encourage your children to learn is to follow their interests. If they are enjoying something and they want to learn it, they will soak it up. When it is forced on them, they will "learn it" long enough to get through the material that they did it for and then discard it. I see this in my own education. Much of my school learning did not stick because I would retain the information just long enough to get through the assignment, the test or the class and then forget it forever. I don't recall much of anything that I "learned" in school. However, the things that I learned because I was interested or because they helped me accomplish something I wanted to do, stuck. I don't think it would be much of a stretch to say that everything I learned I learned in the real world and for the most part on my own.
I can see in my own children, that they learn so much more than I would have expected in the simple day to day things. I find ways to get them excited about things we are learning or use the excitement that is already there for something. Over the last couple years, my veiws on education have changed dramatically and still continue to change. When we first decided to homeschool, I made out the daily schedule and set everything up to be very structured. Now, we are much more laid back. I find that my children and myself require some structure, but I don't feel that they will miss anythng that they need in their education. We stay very active with several groups and we focus on those things that we feel are important for the time being.
I know that my children will succeed in whatever they choose to do in life, not because I covered all the bases in their education. It is because we have focused on instilling a love of learning in them and they will learn whatever it takes to do what they choose to do in life. I think that the important things my children should learn are less about academics and more about relating to the world around them. If they can do that, they will be more successful that any person that has all the accademic knowledge in the world, but have no idea of how to relate to the people around them.
You know what is best for your child. Trust yourself and your child to find what works best for you and your family. Best wishes to you as you continue on this journey.
I am glad to hear we are all in the same boat ( just hope there is no leak!)
I am looking for ways to incorporate learning and new actvities into the days with my 14 month old. I am sure it is too early for a "curriculum" , but does anyone have great resources, toys, books, fingerplays or activites ideas for a "preschooler"?
Jess, I completely agree with your philosophy. For now I am just going with the flow. Kahlin asks SO many questions and for now I am his info source (he asks, I answer), but I know we will shift to looking things up more often and focusing on things for awhile at a time. Sometime there are things i don't know and if we have the time right then, we will find out more about it, but often we just forget about it later when we are near the computer. As for writing down my kiddo's questions, that hasn't happened effectively.
The thing is, he knows he is loved. I feel like that is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I can give to my children. That is the thing they miss when they are away at daycare or school. Did anyone here grow up with a strong sense of self and confidence? I'm sure it happens, but not often and there is no way I'm subjecting them to the junk I remember dealing with in school. As for the education, as far as I'm concerned, it will come naturally. They are loved and they know it. I am certainly not perfect, but I'm also good at saying I'm sorry. : )