Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to homeschool?

While we knew at the beginning that homeschooling is more efficient and that we didn’t need to spend the whole day at the dining room table, we still fell into the trap of trying to design highly structured activities around the alphabet, numbers, and nursery rhymes. At the end of the first week, Liz was ready to call it quits and Tom was not far behind. After all, the whole idea behind homeschooling was giving the kids more of a chance to be kids. It was also too stressful for Liz who felt the increased family time and flexibility of homeschooling was supposed to keep our stress level low and well-being high.

Then we began our quest for a curriculum that the kids could enjoy at their own pace that wouldn’t wear us out. At the same time, we felt a pull towards the freedom of unschooling after reading many homeschooling books from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. It just felt like unschooling took real confidence and courage. This was not us as new homeschoolers! So, we decided to look for a curriculum to use as a base so that we could be sure we covered the core material that they should know. The rest of the time would be unschooling. We also had two years to get a handle on what we were doing before compulsory school age became an issue.

We began using Time4Learning, an online curriculum, as our base curriculum. Overall, it fits us, but as the year went on we still tried adding other things and oscillated between the online lessons only and adding so much that we were beginning to get overwhelmed again Each element that we added was valuable: some classic picture books, non-fiction books, handwriting, workbooks, other websites, Spanish DVDs and several field trips. Unfortunately, sometimes we tried doing all the elements in one day and were back in the same predicament. Needless to day the right balance was and continues to be a struggle!

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