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How has your homeschool evolved?


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I saw this asked on another board and thought it would be fun to see what the hive has to say. In that OP, the poster noted her move to buying more books via kindle. I posted:

 

Nothing huge but my students love working on an iPad. As such, it reduces paper (which I love) and no worries about damage to workbooks. It's portable and can be done anywhere. Plus, provided we have a wifi connection, work can become a multimedia affair with online videos or audio for rabbit trail leads. The kindle app allows use to have reading books available and I've started to utilize it more to check out ebooks from our library (via Overdrive).

What about you?
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I've become more child led and less teacher led. I'm not willing to say that we're going the unschooling route yet, but I've started to realize that there's no benefit in trying to do a grade level science program with a child who inhales science books and participates in every project she can.

 

I've also realized that my kid is a night owl, and therefore, it makes a lot more sense to let her sleep later in the morning and start work when she is rested, and then stay up longer at night. Her brain just doesn't seem to slow down enough to sleep until it's quite late, so waking her up early to do school just means we're doing school with a tired child. It's amazing how hard it was to give up that morning schedule, especially when my alarm clock is the middle school bus picking up at my corner.

 

 

 

 

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I've moved more toward a "better late than early" mindset. I've seen that I needlessly created many tears at an early age for my older kids trying to slog through school tasks that were just too hard for them. I've relaxed a lot over the years, and I think my youngest, age 7, is actually enjoying school by being allowed to progress at a pace that suits him.

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I initially followed the WTM recommendations for output. I have boxes and binders filled with paper to show for it. The kids never look at their past work so it feels like a waste. In math, DS exclusively uses a notebook and I love not having papers scattered all over. I'm thinking we may use only bound notebooks next year for most subjects.

 

Schooling is now more discussion based. The change is linked to my shift from an output-oriented education. I've made it a point to talk with my kids about what they're learning. Since I sit with DD8 while she reads, our conversations happen right away. DS11 reads mostly independently and his assignment sheet has "talk with mom" penciled in. Just last week, we had a great talk about genetic testing; the book he's reading talked about the benefits of screening embryos for genetic diseases without touching on the pitfalls. Playing devil's advocate, I asked about Stephen Hawking. What if his parents had screened for ALS? The discussion led to trisomy 21 and the movie Gattaca. I ended our talk with a question for him: are we more than than the sum of our genes? I've enjoyed our school, and I think they feel the same.

 

I've found that they still retain much of what they've read. All the rabbit trails we discuss has helped me come up with more ideas for exploring. It's also spilled over into my son's writing. When I give him his writing assignment, I remind him of our discussions and pinpoint areas I want him to focus on. 

 

This year, the kids have personal notebooks where they draw or write during our morning read alouds (poetry and non-fiction). They are still paying attention because they can answer the questions I ask afterwards. It gives them something to do besides making faces at each other.

 

Next year, I'd like to focus on art. The kids have specifically requested it. I have drawers filled with supplies, but in the past, I rarely found the time for a formal art study. As our school year winds down, I've made it a point to set aside an afternoon for making a mess.

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I am much more relaxed.  When we began I was insecure and needed to do everything "right".  I was almost in a frenzy to find the best curricula, the best schedule, and be the best teacher.  I still feel insecure sometimes.  But I am more likely to go with the flow because now homeschooling is more of a lifestyle versus a job. 

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We've moved to more outsourcing, so I am shifting from direct teacher to facilitator for the most part. Next year the majority of her classes will be outsourced, either to an online or face-to-face class. It fits well with her personality and growing independence, and I've come across some things that look like great opportunities.

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I have learned that ds wants his work to have a purpose. He does not want to print copywork, but is willing to write almost unlimited amounts for a science project or lapbook. He loves the idea of writing his own books, so he has a math journal, a science journal, a nature journal, and a short story book (that one he dictates and I type; the others are his own printing.)

 

We started doing unit studies this year and he really enjoys them. We make lapbooks in notebook format to summarize his learning.

 

We are getting less formal with math and having fun with it. Ds is talented in math and I want him to enjoy it, not see it as a chore.

 

We are doing way more science because it is his favourite subject.

 

We added in a lot of classical read-alouds and ds is loving every minute of it.

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Mine has a few more boys in it, LOL!

 

I thought we'd do more craft projects, especially for history.  Turns out that my kids like historical projects -- but they have to be authentic.  Weaving strips of paper gets them to turn up their noses; weaving on an actual loom with a shuttle gets a big thumbs-up.  So I stopped sweating that stuff, since they do a ton of it at historic sites and such.

 

As they get older, I use more textbooks, although still on the low side, and more on the living-book-as-spine side.  But I do use more already-put-together stuff than I originally did, like Mr. Q and History Odyssey.  However, I'm still very laid-back with early elementary, gently transitioning to a full load by about third grade, and I'm happy with that.

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When I started homeschooling, I used an all-in-one boxes curriculum. As I learned more and gained confidence, I started piecing together our curriculum to fit my kids and our family. I also learned about different methods, and though I can't point to one and say that's what we follow completely, I have been able to filter through and choose the methods that work best for us. I've also learned to relax more in the early years as I now appreciate how long we have to work on these skills and knowledge.

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I am very much a box checker who likes to see physical evidence of progress, but I have been working on my portfolios today and had a revelation.  Some of the most interesting and educational things we've done have not been the math pages or phonics workbooks, but the LIFE things.  We cared for rescued kittens, watched a brother get sworn into the military, attended a battle reenactment, went to dance competitions, worked on Scout requirements, visited a relative at his laboratory, attended an outdoor orchestra concert, went to a children's play, took a hike, visited a pumpkin farm, and watched educational TV.  I'll probably never give up our "school at home" type work, but I now understand how unschooling can work. Without even trying we added fine arts, music, history, social studies, science and more to our life.

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When I started, I was anti-workbook and had all these visions of lots of lapbooks, timelines, craft projects, etc. Turns out my kids actually LIKE workbooks and consider the other stuff "busywork". We also are using more textbooks now.

 

This is us.  We  just had 4 workbooks delivered today with 4 more on their way.  It makes ME sad, but the kids are thrilled. 

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I decided to homeschool waaaay before I had kids, back when I read The Teenage Liberation Handbook right before college.  Despite many years of slightly more structured experiences as an educator, I still started out thinking I was going to be more unschool influenced when my kids were younger.

 

But then I met radical unschoolers.  And I went back to some of the influences in my own education, like Adler and then read WTM.  So we ended up more moderate in kindy and first grade and more classically influenced than I would have predicted otherwise, though we were very, very gentle beginners.

 

We've slowly gotten more academic as the kids have gotten older, that's just a natural thing that I anticipated.  We've used more and less workbooks at times, but they've never been our focus.  I think our biggest shift is happening now.  When my kids were younger, they were excited to learn about nearly anything I threw at them and now they're more interested in having more say over school time and what we learn, so we're moving to be more child led in that sense.

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I have become much more flexible in moving away from materials that don't work, into materials that do. I am better at discussing literature (MUCH better) than I was at first. I am far more confident in pulling together my own science materials-I used to ardently wish for a perfect science curriculum. Now, I really do believe I can make one myself that will interest my logic stage child, providing some interest, some challenge, but not too much. I'm quicker to recognize when something doesn't work and let it go. I'm better at encouraging ds to figure out what he wants to know, and how to find answers.

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I did an almost 360 degree turnaround.

 

I started out following WTM to the letter and burned out quickly after only 30 days! I completely unschooled for the next 6 months. Then, I started to slowly add back in all the WTM recommendations over the next two years.  

 

Now, that my kids are older, we are happily doing a WTM/classical/eclectic approach.

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When I started hs'ing we were going to unschool. Then that didnt feel right so we discovered TWTM. I burned out fast and the kids were dreadfully bored so we have cycled back to a more relaxed/eclectic/unschool inspired hs. We do math and LA every day and the rest we are reading and talking and living. I suspect by mid summer we will be even less structured.

 

I think our hs will always be evolving.

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We started out 5 years ago with our oldest in 5th grade, and we were very eclectic.  Being in a charter program that tightened its rules we moved more textbooky, and now we are out of it and going more eclecticy again for the coming year.  We use a mix of textbooks, notebooking, and films along with mom-created projects to go along with it all.  We have textbooks as fallbacks or fillers when I don't have better resources to work with to cover specific topics.

 

We have always been very discussion oriented, and yet I still require some output, mainly I think because it makes me feel safer.  Stupid, I know, but I'll go with it:-)

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My biggest evolution has been learning to meet my boys where they are instead of where I expect them to be. I'm a major overachiever in so many areas, and I've had to learn to not be so unreasonable in expectations.

I've also had to learn to hunt for and love boy books and boy methods of learning. Having boys jump up and down or race around a room while shouting out Latin vocabulary or multiplication facts was certainly a wake-up and smell the testosterone moment.

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"Wake up and smell the testosterone moment'.....that's great!!!

 

So many of these observations resonated with me. And I didn't know it! That's why I love posts like this...they help me to give words and meaning to feelings I have but wasn't in touch with them.

 

We've gone from FIAR, CMish, eclectic, unit studies, 'gitter' done!' attitude. I feel like 'Sybil' as in the last few months my ideas have gone the unschool route to p.s. to no enrichment days, back to CM....ugh. I feel like a rollercoaster! I really would like to know why everything seems 'right', yet they can be polar opposites.

 

thanks for this question

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My good friend said something the other day that made such perfect sense.

 

I was lamenting the "pendulum" I was on and she corrected me and said "it's a spiral not a pendulum. You are not just swinging between two fixed spots - you start in one spot and spiral around hitting some new thoughts and beliefs and inevitably you are back to the same general spot but different. You have new thoughts and insights. You see the same thing slightly differently. Then you keep on spiralling. "

 

I thought it made good sense to me, really. When I think about our own hs "spiral".

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