Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A few more reasons....

When Charity and her family moved in we cleared out our shed so they would have a place to sleep. But all that stuff had to go somewhere and the only space available was the children's outside play room-cum school room. For a while that room couldn't be used for anything-there was a lot to sort through!

This gave me a little time to finally sort through 10 years of teaching equipment which had been out of sight (but not out of mind) in the shed. Looking through old worksheets, posters and work cards has given me lots of inspiration for teaching Jenna. I've been looking at a lot of my old teaching resources through new eyes: how to use them in a less time consuming way? Was this activity really just a "keep 'em busy" worksheet or a useful learning tool? Did I really need to keep it all? Parting with apparatus and posters which took me hours to make is not as easy. I'm hoping I'll be able to find a use for most of it with at least one of my kids!

This brings me to our fourth reason: schools are full of busy work-work which is designed to keep a child working while the teacher can teach other children or get on with admin. While I fully accept and understand the reason for this when one is in a classroom teaching 35 children, I also see it as wasted time in the big scheme of things. I remember those days when I walked out of school at the end of the day and thought: Wow, this must have been a beautiful day! Wish I had experienced it.
Not much time is spent outdoors when you're at school. A lot of time is spent (especially in the early years) doing a keep busy activity, waiting to be taught. While I recognise that this will still happen in a home situation, it certainly doesn't need to take so long when you only have a few siblings to wait for. Reason number four: less time spent schooling means more time outdoors, playing or persuing your own interests-just what I believe children in the early years need to spend most of their time doing!

painting outdoors in the sunshine

Michael has started labeling/naming his pictures: The forest

Sorting through my teaching crates is taking a looooooooong time! After a while Jenna started asking: When are we going to start school mom? I had told her we could start with school-like activities when the room was sorted again. So I had to put a stop to my sorting. I was spending more time with worksheets than with my children. Some much needed mom and kids time was called for! As I still think Jen and Mikey need time to play I'm not planning to spend everyday schooling. We have a flexible three day plan which allows us to fit in free-play days, nature walks, outings and visiting grannies and grandpa. Reason number five: We can choose when to do school or not, allowing us to fit in other important activities like building family relationships or exploring the our world.

Bags packed by Jen, waiting for school to start now the room can be used!

Although I fully believe in integrated ages for learning (allowing for younger children to learn from older and vice versa) one of the reasons I've been holding back on following a daily school routine or teaching for long periods of time: I have a VERY busy 3 year old boy! :-) Michael moves non-stop! Even in his sleep! When he was a baby at sitting stage, he had a habit of flicking his fingers at a rapid pace. He was a happy little boy who watched all from a far, while he was still seated, excitedly flicking his little fingers!! While Jen likes to sit quietly creating, he loves to move. (The only way I've found to get him to concentrate for long periods is to introduce him to Lego.) Figuring out how to do activities with Jenna and not to leave Michael out has been challenging. But we're learning. I still think it's not necessary for him to be doing any formal work. It seems he's the extrovert in our family who loves to have someone within sight when he plays. This means if Jen and I are busy I need to find something to occupy him. We try to include him as much as we can, but I really don't think it's important for him to be learning his ABC's and 1,2,3's in a formal way right now. Reasons number six, seven and eight: 6) home schooling allows for individual attention to teach new concepts when your child is ready, 7) it also allows for interaction between ages and sibling bonding, 8) you can adapt your teaching to the learner's style of learning, personality and interests.

learning my numbers through play

making use of some of moms old teaching equipment

I am almost finished going through the first two crates-three more to go! Perhaps by next January, when Jenna's official Grade R year should begin, I will finally be all sorted! You think?!