'The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.' -- Lillian Smith
As many of you homeschooling moms know, once you identify yourself to a fellow homeschooler, almost always the second question you get is, 'What curriculum are you using?' Well, to answer this question here (though I'm not foolish enough to think I won't be voicing it at least a hundred more times this year), I'm not. I am making my own.
For those of you who don't know, Maggie is three years old, quickly approaching four before our new school year commences, and so this past year has been a trial run for us. I was sure that homeschooling was the route we would take, but I was not sure how in the heck I was going to do it. I finally decided to just pick a handful of themes and and other things I wanted her to learn this past year, and I pulled from all of my resources to make learning happen. I thought, 'She's three. We're learning and we're playing. How can I go wrong?' I'm happy to say that the plan worked out great!
Homeschooling became very natural for us, and as we approach the new school year (our Pre-K year if you want to look at it officially), I have decided to not fix what's not broken. We will again be basing our learning on themes. This is the same idea as the 'Unit Studies' method to homeschooling. The definition of 'Unit Studies' as per http://www.hlnfamily.com/ is as follows:
'The unit studies approach is designed to give both in-depth and broad understandings of subjects revolving around some entire theme that interests the child. This integrated approach includes science, math, geography, art, music, history, language, literature, drama, and creative movement. It is often referred to as a multi-disciplinary or a thematic approach. It is an experiential, hands-on approach to learning. It is believed that when children go into such depth, and spend a generous amount of time on each theme, their retention of the subject is higher than in traditional methods. Since the central focus is on one theme, all core subjects are integrated together based on that particular theme.'
(Google the same and you will find over 21 million options to learn more from.) Because we are still so new at the game, though, I am not calling us 'Unit Studiers.' I still consider ourselves to be 'Eclectic Homeschoolers,' as I incorporate a lot of worksheets into our studies, and plan to utilize a simple Bible curriculum and a good math text in the coming years, but as all homeschoolers know, things can change as often as one changes his or her underpants. In other words, don't hold me to it. I think the best homeschooling is done when everyone can roll with the punches and adapt to changing situations.
So, back to this coming year's plan, we will be studying those things that I wanted to cover but have not yet (like pirates!), and adding some study of the Bible, as well as incorporating the practice of journaling. (Initially, I'm thinking I will be dictating her words and letting her draw pictures before she is able to write entries herself.) As for our themes, I will be using weekly and daily observances to help formulate our curriculum. For example, September 19-25 is National Dog Week, so we will be doing a small study of pets with plenty of dog crafts and maybe even a field trip to the local shelter. Doing it this way will ensure we cover all of the holidays and any appropriate themes we have not yet covered or thought about.
We are also joining a local Christian homeschooling support group (LIGHT) that offers co-op learning, classes, sports activities, and field trips, as well as the obvious social benefits. We are happy that our friends, Jayden, Leah, and Lucy, are joining the same so that we have the benefit of already knowing a few faces! In addition to LIGHT, I am also planning on hosting several co-op homeschooling days myself, to share some of our lessons.
Our homeschooling schedule will remain the same -- four days on, three days off, working from Tuesday through Friday, and enjoying Daddy time when he's home Saturday through Monday.
So, as of now, we are planned up through December. Our first official day of homeschooling is Tuesday, September 6th, the day after Labor Day. Until then, we will still be posting project ideas through the summer, but we won't be as reliable as we will be after that September 6th start date.
As always, I welcome any suggestions to make our learning the best it can be! And if I haven't said it enough already, thank you for checking in on us!