Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The joy(s) of home schooling

Look at these boys! They are proudly showing off the bows they made with Steve on Saturday, when we hosted a bunch of homeschooled kids at our homestead to teach them how to make their own bows. Imagine a shop full of eight to eleven year old boys, red cheeked, rasping off wood from staves, joking and laughing, chatting and rough housing. I got to hang out with the moms inside the house, and every time I ventured out to check on the boys and Steve in the wood shop, my heart jumped with joy.
I adore these home schooled kids. They are so open, curious and well behaved. They look an adult in the eye and converse easily, respectfully, comfortably. They are used to being around adults and even enjoy our company, I can tell.

Lately, I have loved home schooling. Sure, I go through periods of freaking out and questioning our choices. But lately, things have felt so right. Our boys are happy and thriving. Not only academically (I am happy to say that in a recent test, they scored one and two grade levels above where they “should” be in math, and sky high in reading and writing). But it's not about academics for us. It's about helping them discover who they are and want to be, and fostering their talents and interests. It's about giving them the time and freedom to explore, work with their hands as well as their minds, and grab opportunities when they arise.

The other day, snow came down in huge, feather-like flakes. Instead of sitting in school somewhere, the boys built a snow fort with their Dad.  We went for a walk and collected ice from the creek.  They worked on their bows. They played their fiddle and keyboard for hours, without having to be prodded by us adults. They wrote pages upon pages of action stories, complete with comic illustrations.  I taught them how to make power point presentations on the computer, and they went wild with it.  The family has learned a lot about cougars, falcons, and rattle snakes since then.

People sometimes ask me what kind of curriculum we use. We love “Moving Beyond the Page”, which is similar to Oak Meadow and very big on literature.  I like teaching it because I get to read all the great books as well.  It includes an inter-disciplinary approach to language arts, science and social studies.
For math, we use Singapore.  I like it because it has a good teaching guide, explaining to the person who teaches the kid how to teach it.  For someone like me, who hates math, who doesn't have a natural inclination towards math and critical thinking, it's great.  

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