Friday, September 21, 2007

Why and How we Homeschool

As I see friends around me struggle with the decision to homeschool, I'm thankful that the decision came easily for Shane and me. I have taken that for granted until now. The earliest I can say that we were thinking of homeschooling was when Ash was a toddler. I am forever a planner, so I had written down a five year plan (okay my choatic friends, laugh away!). In this plan, I wrote out that I'd be finished with college, dh would be in college (this didn't happen way back then!) and that Ash would be in private school or homeschool. I found this five year plan a few years ago, and it was fun to see what I was thinking back then. We were dirt poor and there was no private school except for a tiny one ten minutes away (its nolonger there btw).

As I worked as the Director of a pregnancy resource center (not the same one I'm at now), I came in contact with quite a few homeschool families. I had probably made up my mind that we'd homeschool before we opened that center in 2001 (Ash turned 4 that year), since I bought used A Beka PreK curriculum from one of my volunteers. I don't even remember talking to Shane about it, although I know we must have talked about it a lot (you see, I analyze and talk to him about a whole lot of things, many of which he wishes I'd call up a girlfriend about, lol). He's so laid back and a tad overprotective, so that's probably why we were on the same page very early in our homeschooling journey.

We have always felt that in order to train our children with purity, with sound doctrine, and with high educational standards and a love for learning, we'd need to homeschool. I'm not against the public schools, per se, I'm really just very for homeschooling! We enjoy having our children home, learning naturally as we talk throughout the day. Learning doesn't only occur when our school books are open! But learning academics isn't all there is to it, either. We want our children to enjoy being children-to play "pretend" as long as they desire. We want them to be able to indulge in learning a new skill-even if it takes up an entire afternoon (we don't want them to be limited by school bells). Shane works nights and since we homeschool, he can see the girls in the mornings before he goes to sleep and in the early afternoons when he wakes up. It just flows with our lifestyle and it helps our kids love to learn.

We enjoyed A Beka's PreK, but I took some time to research other curricula while using it. I learned about unit studies and whole book styles of home education and I knew that would be great for us. I had a young lady volunteering at the Center who's mom used Sonlight with her and I checked it out--and fell in love. We have bought Sonlight every year since-starting with their K. I recently bought their preK for Hope to use. I see us using it all the way through.

I don't use all of Sonlight's materials though. When I first started out, I used their core (history, Bible, and readers), their Language Arts, and their Science. I was too afraid to veer off the SL path (who was I to make a decision on what to use?, I thought), but after I gained some confidence, I dropped their science. It uses Usborn books, which are great, colorful books, but they aren't from a Christian perspective. I don't want to edit out "millions of years ago..." and other evolutionary phrases, so we now use a very inexpensive but way better, imo, Charlotte Mason style program. Its actually Apologia Elementary Science-we're doing Experiencing Creation with Botany by Jeannie Fulbright. She talks a lot about God's hand in creation and his power. We really enjoy it.

We do use SL's LA and are quite happy. It's intense and takes some patience to adapt to--but we're very excited about the changes SL just made. They hired Dr. Ruth Beechick to advise them on revamping their program. It is now be more relaxed with more help for teachers. It is an even better program, with more natural learning and less intensity.

We have used Singapore and Miquon math in the past, but Ash had trouble with these approaches. She needs a program that demands mastery before moving on, so Math-U-See has been good for us this last year.

We use a hodge-podge of other little treasures, but the bulk of our stuff comes from Sonlight's catalog. We homeschool year round, in theory, but somehow end up doing lighter school (or no school) during the summer--we're so busy doing summer things, we just don't get in those extras! We do six weeks on, one week off. This kept us from burning out in the past and it's great for spring cleaning and other projects. We do school four days a week-we take Mondays or Fridays off depending on the plans of the week. We do school in the morning, sometimes going into the afternoon.

Someone recently asked me what my husband thinks about homeschooling and, specifically how he handles it when I introduce a change to our school. He's very laid back, as I've said, so he's not demanding about what I do. When I ask him, he says he trusts me to do what I need to do. I'm very thankful for that since I invest lots of time studying different methods and styles. He doesn't study-but he trusts me to make good decisions from what I learn.

So in a rather large nutshell, that's the basics of our school. There's more to my philosophy that I'll blog about later. Betcha can't wait. Kinda like Shane can't wait to hear me say, "There's something I want to talk to you about..."

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