At the beginning of this year I sensed the need to relax in my homeschooling approach.
I felt that less structure and more freedom would result in a more positive experience for us all. I can hear the more experienced homeschoolers saying, "I told you so!".
The two areas that are important to us as a homeschooling family are:
- Freedom to explore interests, be creative and LOVE learning
- To develop self-discipline and ability to persist with difficult, unpleasant tasks to prepare them for life
Initially, we trialled a very relaxed approach. But I found that although they were abounding in creativity they weren't being persistent and were giving up on tasks easily. It made me realise that in order to prepare them for the future e.g possible University life and work that they needed to learn self-discipline.
In order to be successful the ability to be both consistent and persistent are important. So persisting through difficult maths questions or getting frustrated with spelling words is actually okay - it's character building. But you don't want your child in tears all morning every morning. It's all about BALANCE.
We certainly haven't found the perfect formula but in response to the emails I receive, here is an overview of what a day 'might' look like in our homeschooling family as I learn to relax.
OUR 'RELAXED' DAY
5:30am Wake up. Yes, really. The early bird catches the worm!
7:00am Breakfast and excited chatter about the koala we saw yesterday at the national park. We decide to learn more about Koalas and other Australian animals. I show the boys a photo of a 'creature' I spotted while walking through the sand dunes near our house last night. We are going to find out what it is!
DS7 asks me to teach him to play 'clocks' by coldplay on the piano. We listen to a few different versions on YouTube and then I help him learn how to play it in the right hand. He practices until he can play it perfectly. The song is well and truly stuck in my head.
7:30am The house is quiet. DS7 decides to do a robot craft kit he won at kid's club.
DS8 decides to make a giant board game he designed himself....dressed as storm trooper of course!
DS5 starts with some reading eggs on the ipad (note the cracked screen!) and then follows by some magic piano (that's a cool app I recommend).
This continues until about 9am. Once the fighting starts I know it's time for some structure. I tell the boys to get dressed as it's time for some work.
After a busy weekend I have loads of laundry to do so we continue our DVD series on "families of the world" that we picked up from the local library. They are learning about Vietnam today!
It is now 10am - morning tea time! Green smoothies are on the menu!
After morning tea we sit down and begin our devotion. We are using the Apologia "Who is God?" series. It teaches Christian worldview and we love it. It does an amazing job of not just teaching Christian values but explaining other worldviews. It's great for kids who are deep thinkers and like to question everything!
10:40 It's maths time! We are using Singapore maths 3A for both boys (this is a great time saver!) and while I'm working with DS8, DS7 experiments with cuisenaire rods.
It's now 11:30am and DS8 is on studyladder on the computer doing set lessons. He loves study ladder and DS5 has asked if he can do some reading with me. We sit on the couch while does a few readers and we read together until lunch at 12pm.
After lunch the boys play music games on the ipad which help them in their learning to read music. They take it in turns until 1pm when it's time to take DD2 to an appointment at the hospital.
While at the hospital, DS8 goes to the starlight room where they do games and crafts and video games. DS7 and DS5 go to the creche where they play dress ups and do craft activities.
When the appointment is over we all leave and stop off at the library to return some VERY overdue books and get some new ones. DS8 decides on an animal theme and we go home with giant animal encyclopedias. At home, he dives into them looking for koalas and the mystery 'creature' I saw last night.
After dinner the boys all help me water our garden. We are growing veggies and herbs and we 'think' the strawberry plant might start to produce some fruit soon which leads to a discussion on how plants grow.
The boys read quietly for 30 minutes before lights out at 7:30pm.
So, there is a snapshot of what a 'relaxed' day in our homeschool might look like! I have no doubt any more that my kids are learning ALL the time and that as long as I provide them with opportunities they will continue to grow and thrive...even on those relaxed days! ;)