March 24, 2009

What's New - Part 5:Homeschooling

There's lots going on when it comes to homeschooling. It's a lot more work than I could have ever imagined, but also incredibly fun and rewarding. It's also occasionally stressful and headache inducing, but so far the good parts outweigh the bad and we're having a blast with it.

Every day is different and we are trying to make homeschooling an integral part of our daily life as opposed to just being confined to a few certain hours of the weekdays, which I hope is why Cole often tells people that "he doesn't go to school". Fortunately Aviana usually clears it up for people with a long explanation of what homeschooling is which saves me the hassle.

At least once a month we try to spend a day at the zoo, the children's museum or OMSI and most every Friday we make it to the local library for story time. Jeremy takes each of the kids to the pool once a week for their own private swimming lesson with dad, which has been a really nice way for us to each get some one-on-one time with them. They are still taking music class one morning a week and usually one other fun class at the community center, they just finished up sports and ballet and are both leaning towards rock climbing which starts up in a few weeks.

We generally start our day with the calender, the weather and the mystery box during breakfast. It's fun to look outside and talk about what we think the weather will be like that day and what that means for getting dressed, going for a walk, etc. Sometimes they decide that it's just too uncertain to tell and they opt to wait until afternoon to color in the leaf on the weather tree. Alidia is really into the calender lately, but I think that is mostly because it's the only time in her life that I allow her control of a sharp object (pushpin).

They love asking questions and trying to figure out what's in the mystery box and once they do they run off with it and fill it with all sorts of random things. Then they follow me around with it all day asking me to guess what's inside.

Cole is about halfway through Hooked on Phonics and Aviana is aching to start, I'm not sure she's totally ready so I'm trying to hold off a little longer so that she will be really ready and more encouraged by success. In the meantime I'm encouraging her to spend a lot of time exploring letters and their sounds.

The walls of our living room are usually covered with art projects of some sort. Right now there is a giant timeline with facts ranging from the birth of Jesus to the death of Blackbeard the pirate to the release of the musical Oklahoma. Every day new ideas and facts are discovered and added to the timeline. There's usually a mural of some sort being worked on as well. A few weeks ago it was a pirate mural complete with ships, ocean creatures and swash buckling sword fights, before that it was a map of the Zoo and for a brief time it was a castle with knights, peasants, rats and feasts.

We are in the middle of working on animal projects. They each picked out an animal when we were at the zoo a few weeks ago, we went to the library to find books on their animal, drew pictures, and just completed making books which included drawings of what they eat, where they live, and more. The culmination of the project will be to make 3-D habitats for their animal, once mom gets organized that should be the bulk of next week's craft time. Cole chose alligators and Aviana chose elephants, but then added giraffes and zebras as secondary animals to be included in her project.

On days when I know I don't have a lot of energy or the baby is being especially clingy I fill their notebooks with a few worksheets that they can do with minimal assistance. It's a nice supplemental activity and as long as we don't do it every day they really enjoy sitting and doing that work independently.

We celebrated St. Patrick's day by talking a lot about Ireland, which led to a lot of talking about family history and where people come from (My grandma grew up in Ireland). We had some interesting interpretations of Ireland's flag and have been experimenting with a lot of new Irish recipes in the kitchen.

Math is the biggest area where I am researching what to do for next year. Right now we play a lot of games: UNO, Monopoly JR., Double Shutter. We do a lot of cooking and baking and we do a lot of puzzles. I'm hoping to find some sort of curriculum for next year to start working through with Cole at least.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer I imagine we'll be spending a lot of time outside playing in the yard, chasing the chickens and working in the garden. They already have plans to build a full size tee pee and a solar oven. We sent off for a visitor's guide to Astoria and they are anxious for it to arrive so they can figure out all the things they want to do when we visit later in the summer (Lewis and Clark and their exploration are quite possibly their favorite topics ever). I'm sure we'll also spend a lot of days at local farms and checking out all the fun summer festivals, fountains and concerts in the park all around town.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something important that we do, but that seems like enough of an update for now. I love watching them soak up the world around them as they are discovering new things every day. They are funny kids and they have so much energy and imagination that sometimes it's hard to keep up but I'm very thankful that I have the opportunity to try.


wendy said...

You are awesome--doing fantastic! Looks fun! I'll tell you this: your kids will never have the nightmare where they go to school without their pants on! ;D

Sarah said...

man reading other people's homeschooling posts is so inspiring! i started my timeline before i even finished reading this post! and the weather tree! i love that! i need to go make some room on our walls.