Monday, June 15, 2009

Our year at home~ year end reflections~

This past May was the end of our second year of home schooling. It was quite a year. We found some wonderful new ways to learn and have fun while doing it.

Our year started off with an anticipation of a few new programs and methods I had learned about and some did not work as well as I thought they would work~

So often, we as parents fall in love with a program or curriculum that we think is going to just be perfect. It has everything you need and it all laid out with a schedule or is flexible for teaching mulitple children. You have read all about learned how to use the program, all the materials are bought and set up~ all there is to do is to begin.... hmmmm sometimes it isnt all that easy.. or at least it wasnt for us with some of our programs I have tried/attempted.

Some programs, were too confusing, and did not have enough information. Others seemed to be an information overload, without much hands on learning. Even the ones I thought might have been a real fit, we had to tweak a bit here and there for different reasons. I tend to be a tweaker...

One reflection I have from all our programs is that I had realized over the past two years is just because I might like a program and feel it would be good to use and "I" may be comfortable with it, my boys might not be.

I also noticed that while a schedule for learning a particular subject is nice and helpful to many, I began to feel "boxed in" and it took the enjoyment out of teaching and also the boys "delight directed" approach to our learning fell a bit to the side.

*I needed to let go of the feelings of having to follow a textbook~ they really added too much information or not enough in certain areas.

I still have many textbooks and always will use these as a reference but feel there are many other resources out there to help teach and help the boys learn.

We replaced many of our textbooks with "living books"~ biographies~ autobiographies~ and literature. The boys learn from hearing stories of real life people in a particular time period. Learning about how they lived and what their thoughts and life was like in that time period brought a kind of reality to their learning.

Ruth Beechick has written about the use of textbooks in this article: Learning Beyond Textbooks .

Charlotte Mason seemingly had spoke of good, solid literature as "living books".

Here are some additional resources on Living Books~

Charlotte Mason Method

Ambleside Online

Five ways to find living books

Read Around the Year Booklist

After reading further and learning more and more I became aware of new methods for testing to see how much they have learned.

* I began leaving tests and quiz's behind and creating games for the boys to test their knowledge in an area~ while playing games, I was able to ask them questions about topics and could clearly see the mastery and progress made.

* We began using dictation and copywork more to help study spelling and grammar. The boys used sentences and then short paragraphs from their reading books and would edit and learn spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and writing form as we moved along. I could not get over how well this helped them understand the use of grammar and word usage. I really feel that bring it to "life" and using these skills offers them a more clear understanding of what is actually being taught.

* Comprehension has always been a bit tricky in our home but through narration and mental imagery of their reading and read alouds their comprehension has gotten much better and I have actually found that as time goes by they can now pick out details of the stories that before, might have been completely overlooked.

* We began to explore more hands on learning. Setting aside all the books and paper and creating and exploring and talking with people and learning that way. We went on field trips to learn from others and the boys realize so many people has so much to teach us~ when learning about a particular topic they enjoy reading about it and exploring it further through field trips, computer resources, experiments etc.. in order for them to allow their minds to wrap around a subject/topic they like to investigate, explore and perform... dissection, etc.. you name it.. they are boys so they love to have movement in their efforts toward learning...

For myself this year has been yet another gift. A gift we have been given to learn and explore together and allow me to teach my children about our world and about the abilities in each of them.

I find that as we continue some things this summer with our experiments, reading practice, and therapies.. I still have anticipation toward the Fall and what the new year will bring, and how much my boys will learn, and how much they have yet to still teach me, about them and about myself.

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