Intuitive Homeschooling | January 2017

Intuitive Homeschooling

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This is a new homeschooling series to share what I’m learning through teaching at home. What’s become apparent to me through this first year or so of homeschooling is the need to focus less on my own idea of what it should look like and more on what my daughter needs. This idea of intuitive homeschooling–discerning what my daughter needs educationally and meeting those needs without my own agenda interferring–reminds me so much of what it’s like to parent a baby. Perhaps I have babies on the brain right now, but when they’re little we learn how to respond to their needs. Is she crying because she’s hungry? Needs a diaper change? A snuggle? Intuitive homeschooling, in my interpretation, is an adaptive, responsive form of schooling that has similar values to the unschooling movement.

In this series I’ll delve deeper into what we’re learning in our home and how my idea of homeschooling changes as we all grow together. To read more on our homeschooling journey so far, head here.

First semester this year was fairly rocky. I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant at the beginning of August with the onset of the worst case of morning sickness I’ve had with all of my kids. I tried to keep up with homeschooling, but most days I didn’t even get out of bed.

My self-imposed guilt over this led us to take V to tour a local elementary school, but ultimately we decided to continue with homeschooling. With that decision I gave myself an extra serving of grace and reminded myself that everything is a season. Including morning sickness and exhaustion!

By October and November we were back in our groove, learning to read and flying through math. She and her little sister became engaged in hours-long imaginative play, and I did not interrupt for school. We simply schooled around those bursts of creativity because I believe there is value in letting that unfold organically.

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We continued to meet weekly with our nature exploring group on Wednesdays, attend storytime at our library, and the girls started ballet lessons. V even participated in our local ballet company’s Nutcracker and was the most adorable mouse.

And now to January: I noticed over the winter break that V was restless and occasionally had these bouts of wild energy. Part of that is from weathering the winter months, often indoors, and partially from lack of social engagement. We decided to be proactive with her need to learn more, be around more kids her age, and learn from another teacher by sending her one day a week to a local homeschooling school a few blocks from our home.

I was surprised to find out when we moved here that such an option actually existed! A local woman, who taught for years at the Montessori but grew a heart for homeschoolers, offers classes in her home. V will attend one day a week  this spring from 8:30am-2:30pm and join a book club course, math, and a quasi-ethics/civics/environmental course for elementary kids.

My hope is that this experience will work in tandem with what we’re learning at home and provide her with another avenue of learning. The rest of the time we’ll continue working through our Charlotte Mason style math book, which she loves, and develop her reading fluency. We began the semester with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, and it’s okay. I’m planning to order Reading through Literature Level 1, but would love to hear others’ thoughts.

Other than dialing in on math and reading, we spend most of our day following her interests. Right now we have checked out from the library a stack of books on maps, a few books on the national parks, a U.S. history book for elementary kids, and a National Geographic US maps book. These lessons unfold naturally and are unplanned. So for example, this week we read a story in the history book about the early French and Spanish explorers battling over Florida in the 1500s. We learned some new vocabulary, used our world globe to trace the path of their ships from Europe to Florida, studied the current day map of Florida and located St. Augustine, and then looked at national parks in Florida.

Since our state doesn’t require evaluations or a portfolio for homeschooling, I’m relishing the opportunity to go with her interests. I know our methods of homeschooling will change as she grows older, but for now this is working well. Today is her first day of homeschooling school, so I’ll let you all know in February how that’s working out.

Do you homeschool? Have plans to? Would love to hear in the comments.

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2 thoughts on “Intuitive Homeschooling | January 2017

  1. Sounds like V leads a great life. I am sure she was such an adorable mouse in the Nutcracker!!
    I’ve been homeschooling for six and a half years now. I think the first two years were the best and most active for us as a family. I loved teaching them how to read and write and am in awe at how good they are at reading especially.

    I think I made a lot of boo-boos though socially because I was not really pursuing homeschool groups and I see how socially awkward my eldest is now. I think I should have put him into a public school for at least second grade, but now he is finishing up fourth grade and I think if I switched him now, it would cause problems….I don’t think he is ready and so I am trying to get into a homeschooling group now. My younger one is fine but I noticed he rushes through his courses so much because he wants to get to the play stuff. I don’t know if I teach them right. . . I do mainly textbook work but I do think they learn a lot more on their own . . . weird. I don’t know….I feel like I have been a failure of a homeschooling mom. I help them out loads but they are at an age where they learn mainly while doing their textbook work and I come to help them when they don’t understand things.

    I am not very “teacher-like” and think I have done too many blunders. I think the problem is that I have always been a self learner myself. . .I always did best researching and learning on my own and continue to do so. . .and hated authority and being told what I had to do. hahahahahahahaha. I am not a good teacher simply because of that, probably.

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  2. It’s good to read this entry as well as the above comment. Part of our journey is that it’s Supposed to deviate from norms, but it can be so easy to think, “Am I doing this right? Is it enough?” We started 3 weeks after my daughter (oldest child) entered kindergarten. It was a terrible joke. Social studies was Franklin the turtle. Science was Sid the Science Kid. We don’t even watch cartoons daily at home! So we pulled her out and she read 52 chapter books that year and just started division this winter. She is the driver and this is how far she has taken herself! Removing the public school expectations was actually the lifting of a very low ceiling and it’s amazing how easy it’s been. I still hand write most of their work, which is a pain and I finally had to start doing a week in advance because trying to write it out, get it down and have a one year old in the mix was, well, frankly, dumb!
    We’re at the point Victoria is talking about with the social awkwardness. I pushed them to play with the other kids at the park recently and they couldn’t stop running to me to tell me everything the other kids said to them. We need to fix that!
    We use second hand text books, whatever reading material the kids pick (a lot of fantasy stuff) and a lot of national geographics I got for 50 cents at a used book store. So far it’s incredibly relaxed and allows for breaks exactly when needed, content that genuinely interests the kids, it allows our transient lifestyle and it removes them from the dreaded influence of all those kids whose parents don’t care. My dream would be a home school collective type experience, the whole “it takes a village” concept, but I think that may just stay a dream.

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