Written by contributor Jena of Yarns of the Heart
We all know the feeling, right? School schedules versus family time. Housework versus textbooks. Who wins? Who should win? After homeschooling three kids to high school graduation, here are my thoughts on the subject.
#1 Life is learning.
Try to look at daily life as full of learning opportunities. Going to the grocery store is vocabulary instruction (what is a pomegranate?) and a math lesson (how much is this item per ounce?). It’s also economics (let’s stay within our budget). Here’s a link to free resources dealing with a trip to the grocery store.
Any routine family activity involves learning. Just let your kids in on your thinking processes. Why are we doing this? How can we do it more efficiently, more economically? You’ll be amazed at what they discover.
#2 Life and learning is a journey.
Does packaged curriculum drive your day, and does it drive you crazy? If we focus on “we have to finish these pages today!” we might be losing sight of the goal. Where do I want my child to be 10 years from now? I want him or her to love learning, to be excited to pick up a book and find answers to real questions. I also want my children to know how to learn, to solve their own problems, and to find new ways to do things.
I believe published curriculum is best used as a road map, a guide that helps me see where I’m going and possible ways to get there. If something isn’t working, stop and try something else. Skip that part. Come back to it later. Find another way to get that point across. Whoever wrote that curriculum has never met your child. These are tools, not edicts from on high.
I liked to use The Core Knowledge Sequence (from the popular series of books by the same name) as my road map. It is free to download and lists everything a child should know at every grade level. Of course, this is just their opinion, but it is helpful as a checklist.
Below is an example from page 96, 3rd grade, in The Core Knowledge Sequence. I suggest printing the pages that apply to your kids, put them in a three-ringed binder, and check things off once a week or so.
SPELLING, GRAMMAR, AND USAGE
- Use capital letters correctly.
- Understand what a complete sentence is, and identify subject and predicate in single-clause sentences distinguish complete sentences from fragments
- Know the following parts of speech and how they are used:
- nouns (for concrete nouns)
- pronouns (singular and plural)
- verbs: action verbs and auxiliary (helping) verbs
- adjectives (including articles: a before a consonant, an before a vowel, and the)
#3 Learning is life.
Human beings are natural learners. Your toddler is a learning machine! Why? Why? Why???? And as they grow, the world continues to be fascinating.
Just nurture that natural curiosity. If your child shows interest in a topic, let him get ten library books on the subject and spend his days becoming an expert. All that reading, watching videos, experimenting, and talking to you about it will check off fifty skills in the Core Knowledge Sequence (see #2 above).
Because home is school, and parents are teachers, we have the amazing opportunity to share our lives and our love of learning with our kids. They don’t have to experience the disjointed life of someone who has to learn away from home. So enjoy it, and count everyday as a blessing.
How do you integrate home and school?