Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Style of Homeschooling

I so often read about styles of homeschooling.  I fully understand the difference when a family is choosing a 100% unschooled style.  Clear as a bell as to what that it is, but when I read on other blogs about how somebody is unschooled I discover that they are often not able to find themselves using a100% approach.  I read on about other methods/styles of homeschooling. I find others question me about what style/approach do we use.

After much consideration I have decided that there is a STRONG style of homeschooling.  We go at it deliberately, with full intent and we accidentally stumble across learning opportunities and new methods to understand.  We go against the norm by not keeping a grade book, avoiding a book totally for the day, digging in the dirt, walking in the wetland, planting a garden, raising animals, observing birth, playing in an amusement park, planning routes to the next field trip, and the list can go on and on.  We go at it in a very traditional method as well, using the chalkboard, charts, text books, workbooks, test books, (OK they don't even get the test until I know they can master the subject) days of expecting them to remain seated and days of willy nilly movement.  We go STRONG in all we do. 

For example let's look at what we did today.  We discussed what a nutritious breakfast would be to sustain us for the morning activities that were planned. Needing to reinforce that there is no mid-morning snack for us today. Good choices were made as we talk about our choices like it is an every day conversation. No lesson plan to check off the list.  We get to archery class for the second session and Grace is instructed to get into the wallet and count out thirty dollars, then Faith does the same.  Why?  Well they had to pay for the next six weeks of lessons and suddenly we have more learning that is taking place in a STRONG fashion but again does not have a lesson plan to it and the act was spontaneous on my end. They attend class where they talk with groups of friends between shoots and then focus on the target when needed.  Notice that the benefit here is that they learn how to suddenly focus onto the target amidst all sorts of other distractions that are present. That round is over and they are back to the same conversation they were having.  Spontaneously a card game of crazy eights begins and they leave the table for the shoot and come back  again to pick up where they left off.  I call this a STRONG style of learning. They are going STRONG at all that is taking place around them.  Following archery we go to lunch with three other families at the local Wendy's.  On the way we make choices about food again and each girl makes sure they have included more than a burger and fries. Why? Because we always talk about our food choices and although the burger and fries are good choices they also offer side salads there and apples and baked potatoes.   Gab, gab, and eat. Manners as we are a large group with lots of elderly eyes watching the behavior of "those kids that are not in school".   Chuckle between adults as we know that the presence of these children mid-day is an upset to many of them.  But we make a good impression that will reflect on other homeschoolers they come across later in life.  This is the accidental learning portion. Nobody has a lesson plan about conduct in Wendy's at noon with seven children around a table and four adults at the neighboring table. 

The next step is to come home and get me a little rest before we dive into a few important subjects.  Now they girls learn about helping a person in need. This is a big day for me.  I have been going nonstop and still recovering from the hospital stay.  They play for a moment around me and do so in a gentle fashion. Then they begin playing "store".  They bring out items and create shelves, place price tags and get the school money.  I sit back and observe.  I had planned to do some math in the next few moments but they accidentally fell into it themselves.  They created an inventory and determined a fair price for each object. Then they went shopping.  They made change and worked together to determine how much change they needed to give.  What did they do with the objects they purchased from their toy box?

They then brought it to a show and tell. Each girl began a presentation about what they bought. One moment the presentation included a description of what they were holding, the next it was about why they chose that item and how it made them feel or how they were going to use it.

It was a STRONG approach to homeschooling today. In the course of this they even made the choice to open their language book and each completed a lesson without direction or a request from me to do it.  During the presentation portion of their day they each read a book out loud as well. 

So, are we Unschooled?  Do we Charlotte Mason?  Do we school at home?  Do we accidentally learn?  We do that all and so much more.  Therefore I declare a new style of homeschooling.  It is the STRONG approach.  It works on so many levels for me.  It leaves a legacy for me while speaking volumes to the definition of the word alone.

Plans for tomorrow will be a trip to the Nature Institute to learn about symbiotic relationships and have some hands on time with the naturalist that teaches there.  Car time will be using flash cards.  The afternoon will be a very traditional lesson time that they will be in their seats and focused on a text, a workbook and even one quick quiz in history.  I will use the chalkboard, some charts and other visual aids. 

SPREAD THE WORD!  A new style of homeschool has been named!