Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reading any and every "map" book to discover a possible route!

I love to read. In fact I could spend all day in bed reading if given half the chance-but that doesn't happen around here anymore. My love for reading and thirst for knowledge about home schooling led me to the library. As home schooling is still relatively young in South Africa, finding literature at the library was not that easy. At first I couldn't find many books at all and so I just started with books which focused on: "How to prepare your child for school", or "Stimulating your child at home". But none of them seemed to waver from the: design-fancy-teaching-activities-to-stimulate-your-child style which I had already discovered didn't suit our family.

Eventually I discovered that one of the librarians was a fellow home schooler. She was in the process of correlating a file of home schooling support material and a special shelf for any books related to home schooling. Yippee! A like minded soul!
As she ordered books, I reserved them, read them and digested all the info inside. I'm a researcher at heart, and this meant I needed to read about all aspects of home schooling I could find in order to fully understand what was best for us.

My book list included:
  • The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith,
  • The Successful Homeschooling Family Handbook by Raymond and Dorothy Moore,
  • The McGraw-Hill Homeschooling Companion by Laura Saba and Julie Gattis,
  • Free Range Education by Terri Dowty
  • Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
  • A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
  • More Charlotte Mason Education: A Homeschooling How-to Manual by Catherine Levison

The teacher in me was slowly being convinced that my conscience was not entirely crazy! School at home was not what we enjoyed or desired and in fact many others felt the same.

So there I was. System overloaded with info about how-to, when-to, why and how of many different styles and theories of home schooling. I took a while to process the info and still felt that the Lord was saying: As you live your life you learn what you need to know. Teach your children about Me and about the world as you go about your daily living.

Because we had done "school" at my friend's home, my daughter still asked for it. 
 At first I tried to say :"We aren't going to do school any more love, life is learning and we'll learn what we need to as we go." But she is a creative child, who desired a routine. So I complied by spending time with her doing school-like things when her brother napped. We built puzzles, played games, squashed playdough, painted, drew, cut and glued and read lots and lots of books. And when she wasn't doing school? She loved to run around naked, climb trees, play with her imaginary little girl, visit her best friends, watch d.v.d's and of course, entertain her brother.

She went through the "why" stage and I tried to answer any questions she had the best I could either using books or her daddy-who is like a living encyclopeadia with a limitless capacity to store information! ;-)
Writing her name became an obsession. At first the teacher in me felt very uncertain about the implications of teaching her to write from the age of 3 and a half. But as it wasn't copious amounts of writing and I was right beside her when she wrote, I could gently guide her.
She has a great visual memory and had learnt most of her letters through books. So we started to play a simple game of what sound do you hear at the beginning of a word? After my initial introduction to the game she would often initiate it during the day as we would go about our daily life: Mommy do you know what toast starts with? What sweetie? t!
Of course her most challenging learning experience at this time was her 16 month younger brother! He was now very mobile and loved to do all that she did.... including climb trees! (or at least try!)

Along with realising that we didn't need lots of fancy apparatus or toys to learn, I was also beginning to see that when my daughter was ready to learn something new she'd ask questions. It wasn't really my job to expose her to loads of new information. Rather, my role was to answer her questions and patiently wait for a new interest to sprout! At this time in her life her interests lay in learning letters and numbers (reading, writing and counting). That was quite a lot to master for a just-turned four year old!

While my children's life experiences became their daily lessons I was soon to discover something new that would broaden my home school horizons.....