Wednesday, November 6, 2013

AMPED up on fun

Recently we went to Science world to check out their new exhibit. The boys had such a fun time. Will definitely have to go back on a day when it is less busy.

There was all sorts of fun tools to play with that the music industry uses. The kids got to try their hand at playing, singing and mixing.

DJ in the future?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

He can learn wherever

Recently I was questioned about how I could possibly be teaching my kids. We don't really follow any curriculum, we don't have particular set "school" times. The closest things we get is the older two have quiet time when the littlest is having his nap, and they are supposed to exercise their brains. The thing is they choose what they do. Some days they play with Lego, or put together a craft. Other days they will grab work books or ask for a word search.  

The thing is that is not the only time they are learning. The are learning something most times in the day. It has been amazing this past while as we are learning to trust our children, that they can learn and figure things out. Sure there are things that need to be improved on as they mature and grow. Spelling will come with time as will their reading.

In the picture above Bobo was asking me how to spell words so we were sounding them out and he was printing the letters. Previous to it he was doing a word search and an I spy game on his placemat. The family we were with for some reason were stunned that he was capable of doing this. It is stuff he is interested in and has been wanting to do, so he has. Both my husband and I believe in being open and allowing our children the knowledge they seek. We don't tell them that they are too young to do something or overly dumb down the answer to their question. At the same time we don't use big fancy words that we barely understand. We speak to them as human beings who deserve to know about the world around them. If the boys don't understand they know they are allowed to ask questions for clarification.

The point is, sure we do things a bit differently but that is okay. My children are actually well rounded people. They are individual and while they may have to learn things at a different rate, they learn at their rate and they learn to love what they learn. They are empowered to learn wherever they are.

Friday, October 18, 2013

We are still a home learning family

We live in a province that gives us amazing freedoms with our children's education. We have your normal standard brick and mortar schools that most of us grew up attending. We have publicly funded speciality schools, environmental, traditional, alternative, arts based, Waldorf, Montessori and Christian. We can also teach at home through various distance learning( DL) programs. Where you have to report to a teacher on a regular basis and work with a curriculum of their or your own choosing. These distance learning programs are funded and either designated as either public or independent schools. With these some programs offer even partial days of school or classes for the students, some at a cost and some included in your enrolment. Finally we also have the options of being Section 12 registered, where you simply let a school of your choosing know that you are home with your child so they can be counted for numbers. You are then completely free to do what you want with your child.

They are so many options sometimes it is hard to decide what you want to do. For us it came down to I wanted to keep my children home. I still wanted the freedom of choosing our curriculum, but the funding from a DL was necessary in order for us to be able to offer them the extra enrichment programs. Now we don't do anything fancy but having memberships to Science world and the zoo and being able to attend various art and music classes are important to my boys. Being able to put them into swimming lessons go rock climbing, Beavers or other things that come up are important. Unfortunately the budgets only goes so far with kids, and things like food and shoes need to take priority. In case you haven't noticed kids classes are super expensive. I didn't realize how expensive at first but they sure are. $200 for one art class is very standard and that is only for 8 classes. This is why I needed to choose the DL route. I found a program that respects my child's needs and encourages me to follow his lead and let them show me what interests them.

We are very lucky with our program, we have freedom in education in our province that most don't. The freedoms we have with being able to just be registered is not available to many others. The government wants some sort of knowledge and /or accountability, not sure why but that is how it works. I was reading a post  the other day about how if you are enrolled in any various programs that you are not truly a homeschooling family. That got my back up a bit because while yes we have a teacher that we talk with for us it is really no different than the boys talking to a friend about what they are doing. Yes there is more reporting and we are not totally free and off the grid, we are still schooling our children at home according to what we want to do. Now yes there are some programs out there that are much stricter with very particular requirements. We were in one, it wasn't for us.

My thing is no matter how you decide to do home learning for your children, whether it be online or completely alone. You are still at home with your children day in and day out, teaching them. You are infact homeschooling. Sure the government may have a different term but don't they have that for everything? You teach your children and i'll teach mine. We are both doing the same things, teaching our children with love and trust in an environment that fosters their needs.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Curriculum Conundrum

One of the most common conversations I see with a lot of home learning families is what programs and curriculum are they using this year. This conversation often creates a lot of discussion and some tension. See curriculum is expensive, often for something that doesn't always get used or you child doesn't blend well with it.
Often you will end up with stack and stacks of stuff that gathers dust. Most other home learning families struggle every year with what they will have to supplement their child's interest. Do we need more stuff? Do we get the next level or finish the level we have even though the child knows all the concepts? What to do with all the half used stuff that just sits on the shelves.

I'm pretty sure just about every home learning family has at least a bookshelf or to filled with stuff that is currently not being used, maybe more than one. ;)

So that is why this year, I'm stuck. My school requires the funding that we get to be used on curriculum, at least partially. The issues is there really isn't stuff we need. With so much online and in the library why do we need to buy more junk, I mean wonderful learning materials, that are used for the year and then not needed? Or work books that are so redundant and repetitive that no one actually wants to use the whole thing? Or textbooks that really don't give you the whole story or accurate information?

the answer is I don't/ I much rather teach my children to use resources and have memberships to the different centers in the area. We are fortunate enough to live just outside of a big metropolis area that has wonderful science centers, cultural resources and a large amount of home learners. The resources are almost endless  and they don't need to come from a textbooks. Heck it's better if it doesn't. Real books, real experiences, real life is where learning truly comes from. It's one of the reasons we have kept the children home. We know their learning is much more.

Do you use curriculum? Why or why not?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another year of NOT going to school

Today is the first day back to school for many children in my area. With living kiddie corner from a school we see the daily activity, the coming and going of a hundred or so of little children.  My Facebook has been covered with first day of school pictures and most of them look completely adorable.Wearing new clothes with a new haircut, ready to head off on a new adventure.
My boys looked nothing like that today.

They are clothed in the same old clothes. Well the older two are , lil is rejecting clothes today ( he had at least a shirt on earlier ) There are no new back packs or pencils. There honestly is nothing new or special about today. They have watched a bit of TV, played lego and read some books. Later they will have lunch and do something that interests them.  Later this week we will get together with some other home learners and have a picnic in the park. The children will play and run and laugh. 

Sure this year will be different Bug is in Grade 2 and Bobo is in kindergarten. Which pretty much means I have doubled my reporting work load but that is about it for change. We will continue our daily lives in a fairly relaxed fashion and life will go on.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The School Quandary

Every year I go through this same issue. I try to figure out what will be the best options for my kids with their schooling lives. Now granted to them we really don't do much but I stress and wonder if it is all worth it. Now I'm not talking about putting them into a brick and mortar school but I am talking about what program we want to be enrolled with.
We happen to live in a fantastic province for homeschooling, and there are so many options. I have really enjoyed our unschooling ways but there are so many schools that require a bit more reporting and in turn give you more classes and other options free of charge. I still would get my funding plus the classes. This is where my quandry sits as I would love for the boys to have more options to do things, but do I want to sacrifice what I know works for our family for maybe classes the kids would enjoy?
This quandary leaves me often wondering what we need as a family and what really works for us. We need activities that keep us feeding our souls. We need to do things that cause us less stress not more. We need down time and time to connect. We need to be able to have flexibility to enjoy our lives.
Yes the boys need to learn, but they do that with the constant push of work books.  Could we do more some days sure. The boys do, do more than I plan for them. They learn in ways that amaze me some days. Sure there are things that their skills need to develop more on. You know what though so do I. I make spelling mistakes, I don't read as often as I should and I get other facts mixed up. ( not always my finest moments) But learning to grow from mistakes are important. You can't always be right.
So I will probably continue with my quandry for a few ore weeks. I will check out other local schools but I honestly doubt I will end up changing. What works for us last year will work this year. Also I really don't need extra stress with the baby on the way.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Time to Learn?!??

As the leaves change and people being to think of Back to School.

I had a bit of an odd question today. A family member asked is Bobo was excited to get to start learning. I was momentarily confused and thrown off. You see Bobo starts kindergarten this year, but seeing as we homeschool it's not like he is off on some major adventure.  Sure this year there will be a few new books for him, but he got those last year. Sure he will be in a few different classes but he attended some last year as well. Really I think the only difference is he will be in Beavers this year and maybe 1-2 other classes that he wasn't old enough for last year.  The the extra funding and reporting for me which really isn't something that will be noticed by him.

So it go me thinking a bit. How many other people think that learning starts once they enter into formal schooling. Not that anything we do is really formal, but that aside. Bobo has been learning since he was born just like everyone else. Now he is a bit more methodical than his older brother. He likes activities that he sits and quietly focuses on a task. He like to write, read and play with lego. He is a thinker, he likes to process the world going on around him. Lets be honest he is really pretty much done with the requirements of kindergarten in the province, Bug saw to that over the last year.

Bobo will continue life as pretty much the same he will talk to our Learning Consultant over the year and tell her about the things he does. He will play and enjoy life. Sure we will read and he might just start doing it more himself but I'm not worried. See I know he is learning I know there is no start or end time to the wonders of his little brain. He is still be just who he is, my sweet, quirky, opinionated little guy. He'll learn and what he doesn't learn today he will learn tomorrow.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

More than just building blocks

Blocks are wonderful things. The boys spend a fair amount of time building things. When they are working with the blocks they are learning so much more.

The belly also needed a picture. 19 weeks

As they are building the are developing so many skills for life. Spatial awareness, hand eye coordination and more things that I'm not even sure about. The thing is when they just look like they are playing, they are doing so much more. Remember a child's work is their play. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Slowing down to trusting speed

It has been an interesting few months. With changing distance learning programs I am really getting to see more of my son and who he is. I see a child who is very interested in life and knowing more. I see a child who likes to explore the world from the highest vantage point that he can reach. I see a child who has no problem introducing himself to a new person and starting a conversation.

Bug is an amazing little guy, I knew this before, I see more of it now. While as his parent I still have a level of expectations for him and I do get caught up in them at times. I am learning to slow down my level of parental involvement to trusting speed. Once I trust my son it is amazing how much he is capable of. When he knows that I trust him he knows that he can trust himself as well. Trust is really a excellent teaching tool.

He knows that I trust him to do things and he trusts that I will help him if he needs it.  He trusts that I will be understanding and respectful of his learning. If he needs me I am there but I will not invade his learning with tests and quizzes of knowledge. It is amazing what a person can do when they are releases of unneeded pressure.

In the younger years learning is accumulative. it all builds on each other. Simply put, you have to know your numbers before you can do math or your letters before you can read and spell. It is all very simplistic and easy to do. You can not start teaching a child times tables and expect them to understand when they do not understand what numbers are.

Now some people will wonder how you can just go about letting the child do as they want. They must learn something! Teach them as much as they can in their young formative years. If you don't they will be doomed doomed forever! That I guess works for some people, but I want my child to learn how to learn. I think knowing how to find out information. And believe it or not it works. Bug wants to explore the world.

Trust is an amazing thing to give your child and far to often we don't trust any more. We are slowing down and we are letting things flow. Allowing them to realize how capable they are is so much easier than forcing them to learning everything that they may ever need in their life. Slow down, trust, it will come.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Recycling for seedlling

This year we decided to be a bit more thrifty with planting our seedlings for the garden. We had a ton of egg cartons so we figured why buy a bunch of little pucks with unknown dirt when we can DIY it. Here is what we did

First take some egg cartons and cute them to fit in your trays

Add dirt

Have super cute kids help out with planting. 

 Pose for some photo ops

Water cover and wait

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Splatter Art

Lot of fun to be had with throwing paint

Even if your little brother is sitting in the paint throwing zone

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Creative learning

One of the biggest advantages to homeschooling is learning can take place anywhere and at anytime. Math puzzles can be done while snuggling on the couch. Language Arts discussed while swinging on the swings. The seasons and environmental questions can be asked in nature, where these questions are best answered.

It is easy to get creative with learning if you stop thinking about learning. Think about fun things and exciting things to do stop expecting learning and allow experiences to come. They will come with doing :)

Here bug is just trying to make the most number of pie pieces with 4 cuts. Does he realize he is learning fractions? Nope. Is he having fun? For sure. He is spending time figuring out a puzzle. there was no wrong answer. He didn't have any expectations other than try and figure out the puzzle he picked to do.

Marsh mellows and toothpicks make for lots of fun that everyone can get into. Sure it's geometry but they don't care they are making shapes and trying to get the to stand up.

Life is full of wonder and so much fun. Get creative!