Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The wherefore and what not of schooling the kids

When I was pregnant with Squirrel monkey I recall announcing that I planned to home school him and any future monkeys that came along.  At the time my initial motivation was the realization that I, not being a morning person, was NOT going to do well with getting little kids up and off to school at the crack of dawn.  As time passed and I did more research, more things appealed to me about home schooling.  Now my passion for home schooling is rivaled only by my passion for car seat safety.  KOJ and I have a million reasons for home schooling the children.  Though I definitely feel more strongly about it than KOJ, he is definitely on board with it.

The top 5 reasons I am home schooling:
1 - I can tailor my children's education to fit THEIR needs.  Squirrel is a visual learner, he has to see pictures and read text.  And Howler is a kinistetic learner, he HAS to move and manipulate with his hands etc.  That's as far as I've gotten because the other two are still quite young.  But in a public school setting the teacher would be unable to specifically teach and tailor the curriculum to meet each of their learning styles as they could NOT possibly do that for each of their 30+ students.

2 - As my children grow we will be able to identify and encourage their gifts and strengths while also working on their weaknesses.  In a public school setting they are all expected to be average in all subjects.  I personally want my children to delve into the talents that God has given them, to hone them for future use.  I believe strongly that if my child has a particular talent in one area that God has blessed them with that for a purpose and it is our responsibility as their parents to really help them develop that and seek out the reason behind it.  Don't worry we won't let the other things fall by the wayside but I'm not going to force a child who isn't great at science to spend most of their time on science and ignore the thing they are great at.

3 - Socialization!  The number one most annoying question I get is "What about their socialization?"  Um what about it?  We're not hermits.  We don't live in a bubble.  Even if we did they have three siblings VERY close in age with whom to socialize.  But really have these people who ask this question never met my children?  Even my "shy" child will speak up and ask questions or share interesting (albeit generally off topic) facts.  My children have no problem having conversation with adults.  They have no problem playing and having conversation with other children, of all ages.  Don't worry folks, I promise to let them out at least once a week for church.

4 - It's fun.  It is fun to me to watch my children grow and learn.  To get to be the one there when they have a light bulb moment of realization about one thing or another.  It's even more fun to watch my older children teach and explain things to my younger children.  It makes for a super proud mommy moment to hear Squirrel quizzing Howler on what letter makes a certain sound or gently saying the name of the color of whatever toy Spider just called blue.

5 - Character development.  Because the kids are home with me and I choose our curriculum I am able to better correct behavior as it happens and tailor our curriculum to our particular world view.  I am able to teach them about having good character according to the bible on a full time basis.

What I actually meant to post about was the curriculum I've purchased for the fall.  I LOVE researching and choosing curriculum.  But when it goes time to actually hit the little BUY button and send money out of our bank account I feel sick to my stomach.  What if I made a mistake? What if it doesn't work as well for Squirrel or Howler as I thought it would?  And KOJ is no help.  He's all "It's good, you researched, it's fine, just buy it."  No batting of eyelashes.  So I went with simple because really schooling with four children 6 and under should be kept simple.

Squirrel with be in 1st grade this fall his curriculum looks like this:
Math - Math Mammoth grade 1
All about Spelling - grade 1
First language lessons
handwriting practice with his weekly awana verses.
Reading - he just does this on his own.  So I'll just make sure he continues to read regularly.

The thing about Squirrel's curriculum is that it's very much lesson by lesson so even if we take a break for vacation or sickness we just pick up at the next lesson in each subject when we get back.  Similar story with Howler's more laid back pre-k4 stuff.

Howler will be doing pre-k 4 using:
Ordinary parents guide to teaching reading
Letter of the week curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler
Math manipulatives such as patterning blocks, cuisinaire rods, etc.  We do plenty of counting and such already.
Handwriting without tears for his handwriting practice

Spider will just play with the math manipulatives and LOTW games, I will not be doing any formal teaching with him at all as he won't even be three until after the start of the school year.  I plan to do pre-k 4 with him the fall of 2012.  And Princess will just have to play independently in the playroom while we work. 

For our content learning such as history, geography, science, art, etc we'll be working together with Five in a Row curriculum.  Basically you read one of the books (gotten from the library) each day for five days and each day do one or more of the activities in the guide to go along with the book.  So in The Story of Ping we might learn about china.  Madeline would include discussion on France. So on and so forth.  I love this in particular because its something that we can do as a group and tailor the activities to their particular readiness and because it will provide a wide array of subjects to explore.  It's also very flexible.  I can pick the books in any order I want to and choose any of the activities in the unit that I want.

Flexible is key with this many kids at the ages my kids are at.  It's also a huge key in my teaching style.  So while our main school subjects are set and they will do a lesson in each subject on each school day the flexibility that FIAR provides will allow us to take detours if the kids want to.  It's a happy mix I think.  I'll let you know about this time next year how it all worked out for us.


  1. That's exactly what I was doing today - nailing down our curriculum for next year! Sounds like you have a great plan. :)

  2. We are doing FIAR too with 5 year old dd. 2 year old listens in on the stories and such and I use a bit of the geography to include my 3rd grader. She is kinda over mama reading to her so she reads independently on her own. We are also doing FLL :)

  3. I just posted on Melanie's blog that I love this time of year when we are finishing up our curriculum, thinking about what worked and what didn't and making plans for next year. It's so energizing and exciting. And it means that it's almost summer break!!!