Thursday, October 8, 2009

Moving along....

My friend and I were both trained teachers. In fact we had met while she studied at the school I was teaching at. We both had a desire to be at home with our children. As a recently qualified teacher she was very inspirational to me and it was a joy to watch her enthusiasm. Her creativity and lesson ideas were wonderful. We spent a lot of time together with our children and eventually decided to start doing pre-school like activities together. We met together twice a week and followed a structured pre-school like timetable. Our planning sessions were a wonderful time of sharing and encouraging one another in our walk of motherhood and home schooling.

After a while she decided that she would like to set up a pre-school in her garage for other children to attend as well as our children. By this time I had had my son and I tried to help with lessons but found it quite difficult to stay focused and relaxed when I knew that he would either need a sleep or feed soon.
During this time I began to feel that this pre-school like schedule really didn't feel like natural learning to me. I kept on thinking: Surely we could do this in a more relaxed, home like setting. As I knew that my daughter had learnt a lot through reading books and day to day activities I felt that the school-like lessons were not really necessary for learning. In fact, a lot of what we planned she seemed to already know. We were just trying to make learning "interesting" because that was what we had been trained to do!

So I decided that it was time to stop.

My son was growing older and this meant he was becoming more interactive with my daughter and I during the day. During his nap times I tried to follow a programme of activities with my daughter which was designed to stimulate all areas of the brain and which was aimed at all learning styles. Although my daughter was coping and I could see that there were concepts she was learning, I wasn't really enjoying the lessons. My reasons for not enjoying the lessons were twofold: 1) it seemed like such an effort to do activities with her which she didn't really show an interest in and 2) I could see that the very activities/concepts we were doing could be learnt through daily life. So after a short period of trying to follow a structured programme I decided to stop.

So now what were we to do? I was at home with an almost 3 year old and a baby and I didn't know how to keep myself or them "busy"!
So I set up a weekly routine and planned to follow that. As I had learnt that living life was the best way for our family to learn I felt that the best thing to do would be to involve my children in my daily routine as much as I could. This wasn't really a new idea to us, as this is what we had been doing all along, we had just added school like activities to our routine. So basically we just stopped following the learning programme we had been using.

My children went to the shops with me. They helped (in very small ways) around the house while I did housework. We made play dates with friends and visited family. The library, beach, park and petting farms became regular visiting places. We had a routine to our day and a routine to our week. To keep my daughter stimulated I bought pre-school like computer games, magazines and craft equipment. We also met once a week with my friend and her two similar aged children to do craft like activities.

In the meantime I was reading every book I could get hold of that discussed home schooling.....