I would like to tell you a little bit about our homeschool journey and what we finally settled on after 1 year of tears! I hope you find some of this information inspirational and helpful in your homeschool journey.
In 2011 I quit my full-time job to become a stay at home/homeschool mom. I had planned and prepared though for a year prior. Little did I know though that all those plans and planners would pretty much be tossed out the window by the Fall of 2012. When we first began homeschooling in 2011 I tried the workbox method and attempted to cover every subject every day…BIG FAIL. Frustration abounded and tears flowed. I had the GA standards pamphlet printed and had my mind set that the children NEEDED to have certain things learned by the end of the year. I tried to force my daughter to read…more tears from both of us. I was beginning to think homeschooling was not going to work. By January 2012 I pretty much gave up and let my children do whatever they wanted for the remaining months of the “school year”. And that is when I realized, that when they were given the chance to explore and follow their interests they were independently learning, absorbing more information and having fun. They didn’t need a strict schedule, they didn’t need tons of curriculum and they didn’t need to cover every subject every day. They began to love learning which was our primary reason for homeschooling in the first place.
So, we made a switch to delight-directed learning and haven’t looked back. What is delight-directed learning? Well, it is a learning style in which children are in charge of their own learning. The delight-directed method allows children to use their natural curiosity to motivate them. By studying a topic of interest children learn all the necessary concepts of reading, reasoning, writing, researching, etc. Delight-directed learning is very similar to unschooling.
Here is what makes up delight-directed learning:
-it is child initiated, directed, and led.
-it is parent supervised and supported.
-it involves learning webs…you may start with a particular topic but may soon find yourself immersed in a connected topic.
-it is led by interests, spontaneous and unplanned. The strict, rigorous and planned schedule is a thing of the past.
-it encourages exploration of hobbies, personal interest, and passions.
-academic subjects are integrated together rather than segmented (read below for further info regarding our math and reading).
How to get started?
Simply ask your child “what are you interested in learning ?” My kids usually come up with several topics for one month. And many times the topics they choose to lead another, and so on (learning webs). I make a list and then I help them find the resources they need to learn about the chosen topics. We utilize everything and anything including books, unit studies, lapbooks, websites, videos, classes, kits, fieldtrips, volunteering, etc. For keeping track of historical events we utilize a timeline book. Since neither of my children read or write on their own fully yet we read our books together as a family and also complete unit studies/lapbooks together. I would like to also note that this way of homeschooling is virtually FREE. Read more about that here on my blog.
It is also important to make sure that your home reflects a delight-directed learning environment. Make sure books, music instruments, art supplies, exploration boxes, creative toys, games, etc are readily available and within your child’s reach. This will encourage exploration, creativity and independent learning.
There are two particular subjects that generally raise lots of questions when I talk about our delight-directed homeschool method and that is math and reading. We do occasionally utilize curriculums for these two subjects, however, most of the time these are covered and discussed without the need for a curriculum. My children are learning to read by choosing books they want to try to read and by me reading to them. Math is covered or can easily be incorporated into just about every topic they choose and it is often a more practical application so it is absorbed better.
Here is an example of what I am talking about. SAND, yes this is a topic my daughter wanted to learn about last year. At first, I was a little apprehensive…but when we started to think outside of the box we came up with lots of ideas that involved sand. We covered deserts, glass, oysters/pearls, animals that live in desert and beach areas……..you get the point. We took two fun fieldtrips. One to a glass shop where we were able to see a glass making demonstration and another to a local pottery store where we made glass suncatchers. We contacted a local sand supplier and received 10 different samples of sand that we then examined under a microscope. With one simple topic like sand, we covered science, geography, history, art, religion, life skills, reading, math, writing and more.
How so I keep records of what they are learning?
This is another question that arises when I describe our learning style especially since many states require records to be kept for homeschool children. It took me awhile, but I finally came up with a simple system that is quick and easy (perfect for busy moms). I created a very simple spreadsheet which has spaces on the left for the days of the month in which we homeschool. At the top, I list most of the subjects. There is a spot for extra where I can write/type in health, physical education, fieldtrips, etc. Each day I simply make a notation of what we did during our homeschool that day that covered that particular subject and of course I also keep or take photos of their projects, worksheets, lapbooks, unit studies etc. If this spreadsheet sounds like something you might utilize in your homeschool, feel free to download a copy.
I hope that this post inspires you and doesn’t scare you. Be sure to visit my blog for FREE lapbook and unit study resources.
Kathy quit her full time job in July 2011 to become a stay at home/homeschool mom to her two children. Besides being a full time mother she is also a devoted wife, blogger and social media manager. She lives in Georgia just north of the hustling and bustling city of Atlanta. When she is not tending to children she enjoys blogging, scrapbooking, hiking, geocaching, arts/crafts, traveling and watching movies. Read more about her homeschool journey on her blog, http://www.kathysclutteredmind.com.