By Catie Gosselin
Last month started with very loose daily organization, and ended with the introduction of formal curriculum to our schooling. When the materials arrived, my son poured over them hungrily. He was so excited by all the books, projects and exercises. When we incorporated them into our schooling, however, I noticed a bit of discomfort with the structure of our math program in particular. My son had already mastered a great deal of the topics. I found it amazing that I had the freedom to skip what he knew and move on to a greater challenge to keep his interest.
Additionally, we have found a happy medium between very structured schooling with set hours and very loose schooling with no set hours. I have found that alternating schooling and "free" time works best for us. The most formal or intensive activities are best done right off in the morning when energy is at its highest, while our afternoon consists of very loose schooling incorporated into our daily errands-banking, shopping, mailing bills, etc. I've also had a great deal of success including a weekly "field trip" above and beyond the boys normal activities.
Last weekend, for example, we had a family trip to Plimoth Plantation. It was a long drive, but we have been studying the Pilgrims for History, and with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it was a perfect time of year for the trip. Both my sons were beyond excited and interested. This trip led to an armload of related books checked out from the library, exploring the Plimoth web site, recreating a Pilgrim home in our kitchen. The boys interest was sparked by actually living the lesson. What a joy to see their learning come to life!
I think the greatest thing we have come away from this month with, is the knowledge that homeschooling is not just an educational choice, it is a lifestyle choice. Educating my children is not just a task I perform everyday. Our family life is homeschooling and homeschooling is our family life. All the daily coming and goings of family life are opportunities for education, whether it is a trip to the dry cleaners or to BJs to buy juiceboxes in bulk.
We may not be considered mainstream in our life choice, but we certainly are more contented. I no longer have to hoard every school project my children make to feel connected to their development. Homeschooling has allowed me to actively be part of their growth rather than watching from the sideline.
bio: Catie Hayes-Gosselin. Catie is the proud Mama of two young spirited boys, ages 6 and 4. She has begun her homeschooling adventure with both this fall. In addition, Catie works at home running her web/graphic design business, Townsend Craft & Graphics and is the Founder of WomanLinks, a supportive community for women from all walks of life.
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