Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Profiling Home Educators

I'm already a day behind on my "assignments" for Home Education Week. That's par for the course around here lately, sad to say. I will now hunker down and try to do the writing prompt, which follows:

Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?

Not difficult at all, is it? Heh. Since this blog essentially talks about me, my family, my children, and all the things we do in the course of our lives, I feel that, if you're already reading, you don't need more blather on that. If you are a new reader, I will just tell you to read past posts and you'll probably find out way more than you want to know about me & mine.

Now, what is it like to be home educated in our family? Perhaps I should ask the children, as they are the ones who are typically being "educated" here. Our educational outlook has changed with the change in ages and number of children over time. We started out with some structure but a whole lot of fun stuff in the early grades: lots of reading, activities, interest-driven unit studies. As the girls have gotten older (and Sarah entered "high school"), we have become more structured and traditional in our approach. Plus, doing traditional-type work makes Friend Husband more comfortable, which is essential to the running of our little family and home education.

We used to have more of an unschooled approach to life in general. We visited museums, zoos, historical locations and learned what we could there without pressure. Learning took place in all sorts of different places and times. Today, our "learning" seems to be more encapsulated within the "school day" and outside of that, the girls tend to not embrace anything that has even a whiff of "educational". Sad, that, but I guess it's necessary for us, given the ages we're educating and the composition of our family.

I do know that we occasionally will take off on tangents about various things of interest. The Internet is an amazing resource for photos, videos and other information that makes the subjects come alive. Thanks to what's available online, we've been able to see pictures of Mohenjo Daro, Carter's expedition into the tomb of King Tut, and Billy Joel singing, "We Didn't Start the Fire". We have seen all sorts of dissections, recycling plants, and microscopic images that were not available to us in our books. Those are the sorts of things that we tend to say, "Oh, let's see what we can find on the Internet about that." And that's fun, but it doesn't happen often.

Our typical school day (when things are more or less on track) looks like this: Friend Husband leaves, the girls eat breakfast, then meander down to the schoolroom to work. Ten-thirty is the designated history time for Rachel, Abby, & me, when we read from Story of the World and talk about history. Right now we're talking about ancient history. Yesterday I read about why the Minoans abandoned Crete (a nearby volcanic island blew up and made the island of Crete uninhabitable for a time) and before that, we talked about the Minoans in general. The girls are generally supposed to get math, grammar, history, and spelling done before lunch. Sarah also does Spanish online before lunch.

Oh, another thing that has changed is that Sarah doesn't read history with us anymore. From the start, the two, then three girls and I have done history and science together in the afternoons. Last year, science was handed over (with enthusiasm) to Friend Husband. This year, Sarah moved on to a monster history book (World History: Comprehensive Volume by Spielvogel) and outlines on her own. We're all in the middle of the ancients, but she's learning deeper and separately...yet another change in our homeschool over time.

After lunch, we have computer time, twin time (when the girls learn how to entertain and interact with their younger siblings), writing, Spanish for those who haven't done it, music, and whatever else we've got scheduled for the day. The girls take enrichment classes at a nearby homeschooling group on Wednesday afternoons. This is when they all take musical theatre, Sarah takes writing, and Abby and Rachel take art. Sarah also works as a teacher's aide to the elementary science teacher one period, which I count as volunteer experience/life experience.

That's us, in a messy nutshell. I do wish that things were different sometimes but I'm also attempting to deal with a family in all of this and I am not one of those wonder women with 10 children who bakes her own bread, grows her own food, sews her own clothes, and has the time to make up an original multi-act play for performance by her brood every year. I am the homeschool mom who grades papers on Saturdays, plays Scramble when she gets stressed, and does her best to keep the children out of one another's hair and educated. Lofty goals indeed. I'm so glad I went to college for this.


acceptancewithjoy said...

Oh I am so glad you are not a wonder woman who bakes, gardens, sews and makes-up multi-act plays for your kids.

With imperfect people, I have a chance of fitting in ~

Sassy Mama Bear said...

Sounds like we would get along quite well. Very well with our styles.