Saturday, May 14, 2011

We do not have an Extra Room, Where can we have Class?

The beauty of homeschooling is that you can have class almost anywhere!

We have had lessons on a blanket outside, under a tree on nice warm days.  We were learning about birds in Zoology, above our heads Weaver bird were building their nests and our learning became so much more than just words on a page.

A friend of mine told of a cold rainy day when she and her 2 children curled up in front of their fireplace, with cups of hot chocolate and a school book.  These are precious times that open doors for discussions that go far deeper than the material presented, making learning personal and interesting.

Our car is regularly a classroom, waiting for a sibling to finish an extra mural.  We have walked around lakes, discussing things that we have learned.  There was even a situation where we had to go to my mom one morning and my girls sat at her dining room table doing their work.  While we do have desks where we work and a white board to help me explain things more clearly, we are not bound by this.

You can be flexible and there is no right or wrong way.  So whether at a kitchen table, fireplace or on a walk at the botanical gardens - make learning fun and enjoy this time together.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I am not a Qualified Teacher, can I still Homeschool my Children?

This is a concern that parents, going into homeschool, have. It is also a question that I have been asked many times - "Are you qualified to teach?"

As parents, I believe, we are naturally born teachers. We teach our children how to eat, talk, walk and how to be pleasant, disciplined little people (or we should be anyhow).

The author of our curriculum, Ivana Ries, has said that it is much better if you do not have the strict routine that a teacher has become accustomed to. This is the beauty of homeschool, no one knows your children like you do and the way they learn best. Learning is not about getting an "A" or "B" on a report card, due to work crammed in the night before, never to be recalled again (sound familiar?) but rather an enrichment of our children's minds and in finding their natural interests and talents, furthering their knowledge for their futures.

We do not have a school bell that goes off at 07h45, line up at the door after a mad rush to get ready. Instead, we eat breakfast together as a family, do our morning hygiene routine, take our books outside and read under the trees, now that it is warmer of course. The other day we were reading in our bird watching book, part of our Zoology course and the Weaver birds were at work building their nest just above us - this is something my children will never forget, learning is alive and real for them. On fact, I often find them outside with the binoculars, watching the birds. I know when they write their assessment next week, without "learning" for it, there will be no problem recalling information.

When it gets a little warmer, we go inside for our disciplined subjects, English, Afrikaans and Mathematics. This is a quieter time, my oldest daughter does more self study and gets on with her work, while my time is spent with my youngest, teaching her the basics and giving a helping hand while she is still learning to read. So, learning happens naturally, you do not have to be qualified to teach enquiring minds that are curious about the world around them.

Our days are more peaceful now and best of all -


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Curriculum Choice??

After making the choice to homeschool, you are left with the daunting decision of what curriculum to follow.

There is an overwhelming choice of curriculum on the internet, which does not make this an easy choice. You want what is best for your children (which is why you have decided to homeschool) and a good curriculum is key.

I spent the good part of 6 months doing research before making the decision on which curriculum would be a good match for my children.

Some of the challenges I faced were the following:

* American and UK curriculum were fantastic but when it came to history and geography it seemed pointless.
* Some South African curriculum were very bland - my children would have been bored out of their minds doing packs of photostatted pages.
* Others are based on practical work, making objects rather than writing. While this has its place in learning, it should not be the only way.
* Then there are literature based curriculum, which are book based learning - this would send me running to the hills, never mind the fact that I would have to force my children to get excited about school every morning!

Finally, we settled on a curriculum that has "living books". When we took our children to view the curriculum, we could not get them away from the tables when the books were displayed - this was a very good indication to us of what type of curriculum to follow. We have a good balance of practical projects and literature too. Many of the core subjects are tailored for any type of learner you might have. All the lesson prep is done for you too! There is nothing left to say but -

Now we Love 2 Learn!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time Management

When your children are learning at home, it takes up most of your day. It is not a matter of working through a couple of books in the morning and then you are done for the day. There are experiments to be done, projects to complete, papers to mark, outings, drama lessons and any other extra murals. Most moms clean there homes when the children are at school. When do homeschool moms get all this done? What about the cooking and paperwork?

This is what works for us as a family on a typical school day - school, starting with Maths first, until 10am, when we stop for a short tea break. School continues until 1pm, lunch time. Then it is back to the books until 2pm. On a Monday the girls and I tackle the bedrooms and bathrooms, on a Wednesday we do the kitchen and living areas. When we all get stuck in it takes only an hour. I do a load of washing every night and catch up with the ironing on the weekend. This keeps everything up to date and reasonably presentable if anyone decides to "pop in". On the inbetween days, we go to gym and I catch up on paperwork. My girls are also learning how to be self sufficient and love learning new skills, like ironing, sigh - every mom's dream. What they help me with is by no means perfect, but that comes with time and patience.

Homeschooling should not be looked at by what you are giving up, but as a ministry that you are providing to your children.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Peer Pressure

I have 2 daughters, aged 11 and 7. Over 2 years ago, when they were both still in a private school, my oldest daughter came home very withdrawn and quiet after a school trip she had been on. When getting down to the heart of the matter, she begged me to never buy her anything pink ever again! Girls had been making comments like "hmmm, you really like wearing pink don't you?!" Making her feel that pink was for babies. Is it really so wrong for a little girls, then aged 8, to like wearing pink?

Now, it is a common need that we all have in life - to be loved, needed and accepted for who we are by those around us.

Now days girls are colouring their hair, wearing make-up and have their nails done professionally - not at 16, but from about the age of 10! There are girls, aged 13, looking like they are 19 walking around malls at night with matric boys. Where and what will these children be getting up to when all is said and done by the age of 20?

My daughters at school were feeling left out for not having the latest ipods, cell phones, laptops and playing with toys where completely out of the question! I am now please to say, 2 years later, I have my children back, playing with dolls and climbing trees.

My prayer is that my girls grow up at the pace that they need to and be carefree and happy while they do.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What is Homeschooling??

Homeschooling is a choice made by parents to provide pre-primary, primary or high school education to their children, in their own home. Schooling is typically done by parents but sometimes by hired tutors.

Many parents, frustrated by corrupt private school boards, lack of religious instruction, underpaid teachers or unsafe conditions, have chosen to teach their children at home.

Most homeschooling parents will say that the improvement in family relationships, more control over the curriculum and having a say over what their children learn are the reasons that they homeschool. Many homeschool for religious reasons,

In tough financial times, homeschooling also becomes an attractive choice when private schooling is no longer affordable, but quality education is not compromised.

Only you can make the decision whether or not homeschooling is right for you and your family. Take the time to research the pros and cons.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Child Struggles with a Subject,Where do I get Help?

If there are problems that you experience in a certain subject, that you feel that you are out of your depth, there are many tutors, for various subject,s that make themselves available to homeschoolers. You could contact one to help you over a rough patch until you feel confident enough to carry on.

When you home school, you are not alone - there are many of us in the same boat. You just need to reach out and make contact with the many networks that are set up around you.

Most curriculum providers also provide a telephone or email support when you sign up with them.

Come to think of it, nothing really changes whether your child is homeschooled or in a mainstream school - if they struggle with a subject, you need to seek extra help.