Saturday, August 30, 2014

4 Resources I've Found Helpful on This Home Education Adventure!

This is not an earth shattering post by any means. I only have a year under my belt and I have many many years of home schooling ahead of me, but for some one starting out... this might be helpful!

6th grade science with my brother (middle) and future husband.
 Tuesday afternoons my Mom did "edible science" classes with us.

 That said, as a second generation home schooler, I like to think I have a bit more to carry into this than I might have other wise ... I remember what I loved about home schooling and what I wished away. I remember many hours with my siblings and how much I treasure what my Mom (and Dad) gave us: a slow childhood with them. As a matter of fact, that's the number one reason I want to home school.

my brother age 8, swinging in our back yard on a spring morning..
I want my kids to know the joy of getting to snuggle up in your own space and read the afternoon away. To play money games with their Dad on the living room floor, with REAL MONEY (big stuff when you're 6). To be surrounded by other kids who love to read and are used to doing things to the beat of their own drum too.  To spend the day exploring  parks, streams, creeks, and woods with friends (who also home school) for "P.E." days all while the class room kids were doing work sheets, standing in lines, stuck inside, only getting to talk freely and play for a few minutes at set times of the day. School isn't all bad, I went to school for several years. But I treasure the childhood I was blessed with, the slow cozy days with family. The afternoons riding bikes with my best friend (now husband) who home schooled down the street. The home-work free afternoons climbing trees like a monkey over my Mother's head ,while she read out loud on the ground below. The drama clubs, enrichment classes, music lessons 4H activities, and field studies we were free to experience with out rush. 
Okay enough rambling...   
So here is my list of 4 resources I have found invaluable in this journey of home education..
#1 I guess the number one site I have found helpful would be the Home School Review Website. If the curriculum is out there, you can probably read reviews on this site! I probably give them more traffic than I care to admit when I am geeking out over a curriculum I've just discovered.  
#2 I Read Books...Anything by John Holt, specifically  Learning All the Time 

The book also makes a great picnic snack cutting board FYI. 
I read this book back when I was pregnant with my youngest and it was fascinating and encouraging. It was also, I think, his easiest read. His obvious love for children, families, and vast experience as a teacher comes through loud and clear. His writing style is warm and interesting as he delves into how learning happens, the roots and the ends and what learning is not.  
If you're serious about home education, reading at least one of John Holts books (considered the Father of Home Schooling), will both educate and empower you.
This was also a good one, it's not just if you want to unschool.
This  is THE book I have found most helpful, and I would recommend reading if you're just starting out. Or maybe do it your way for a year, and then read it and wish you'd read it before! :D Actually the book is all about doing it your way! But it's like this more seasoned home school Mom took you out for coffee and said, "Here's what happened to us, it's a common challenge- if you hit this wall: don't throw the home schooling out with the bath water!" And then goes on to ask you challenging and helpful questions for you to evaluate both your goals as a family and the unique kids that you're teaching! She then has an action plan at the end of each chapter to help you set goals and get a strong picture of what you're doing and why! That curriculum I shared in my last post? She showed me I could do it. She also helped me remember why I wanted to do this. To really *choose* home schooling for my  kids. Not because I figured I would (but found it so much harder than I imagined), not because my husband is passionate about it too. Not because I hate the thought of my kids being away from me 40 hours a week- in my local (not stellar) public school. Not because of any lofty ideal or picture I had when I started out.
But because I looked at each child and their specific needs and I learned how to make this about relationship, not education or check lists. Alicia Kaszuc taught me that, and I am eternally grateful. Since I read that book (2 months ago?) we haven't had a single power struggle over "school", my kids are begging to dive in to what I planned, and we've been enjoying it immensely.
#3 CONNECT! I love message boards, there are several out there for home school support. The Mom's there? They are amazing resources! If all else fails, get thee self on local FB groups and home schooling message boards! Join some home schooling playdates! Playdates at parks are the best, kids are busy: moms can talk! Ask them your questions and get some answers! Ask them, read, listen! Find the older Mama's and ask them what works for them. It might not be what works for you, but knowing they're in this too, want this too, work at it too? Awesome encouraging stuff! 
#4 Go local, field trips are everywhere! Kind of in line with connecting, I always ask local people for field trip recommendations if we're heading to a new city or state. Educational opportunities and family fun are everywhere.:) 
Our trip to MayflowerII on our trip to New England during summer. Awkward family photo FTW!


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