HSF 6: Deschooling

(I like making Friday my homeschool post day. I was calling it homeschool confessions, but not everything feels like a confession, and the title was messing me up. So, this is now affectionately Homeschool Friday or HSF.)

I’ve been struggling with helping my stepson de-school. You know, the process of breaking free from the influence of peer-culture, and standard expectations. I want him to develop his personal passions, and I want his education to help him pursue those passions.

Just like I want for the biokids.

I have an advantage with the biokids because this “free thinker” thing has been part of how I raised them. Getting the opportunity to homeschool and unleash the “free think” in someone that has been in public school for so long is vastly different than anything I’ve done before.

He needs a lot of guidance and still needs me to tell him what to learn. Now, let me say this: I am not so free from any guidance around here that we aren’t learning some important (in my opinion) subjects. We work hard on math, and language. I include some history in most of our school days, too. We dabble in science.

I have to force the youngest boy to practice his handwriting. This is not a skill he deems necessary, or desired. I don’t let him skip all writing because of his inclination to never write anything, ever.

I just don’t subscribe to an exact scope and sequence for their ages or grade equivalents. I let them learn at their pace. When something really strikes their fancy, they get to study it more in depth. Our 7 year old spent an entire month going through books about animals – birds, reptiles, amphibians, and dinosaurs. He is also very interested in learning more math, so I let him do as much of it as he wants.

The 5 year old wants to read independently, so instead of hovering, I pair him up with a brother and let him read to them. He doesn’t feel like he is depending on me, but they are both able to help him if he gets a word wrong. Since I’ve started this, his reading ability has tripled in just a couple weeks.

Yet, with the 14 year old, I’ve had a hard time pinning down what he really likes, or what he really wants to learn. He asked for some books on tigers/big cats and wolves on the last library trip. I got those, and he has thumbed through them multiple times. I told him to pick a topic and research for 30 minutes, and he spent his time on “odd facts.” (Totally fits him!)

I’ve started asking him to help me teach the younger boys, too. He reads from his history book to them, helps the 5 year old with his reading, and helps the 7 year old with math (when the 7 year old will allow it). I’m right there, I’m not pawning off my job, but as I see how he gives them information, I’m figuring out more about giving him information.

Hopefully, the more he writes about what he wants to write about, and the more he engages in what he wants to engage in, this will become less foreign. Hopefully, next year, instead of wondering if or when we’ll get there, I’ll be writing to tell you that he’s hardcore studying ________ and preparing for/enrolled in some college courses to further his study in that area.

Have you ever faced this type of learning curve? How did you handle it?


Homeschool Confessions 4: Dear Hubby

My husband, who announced in December that we would be homeschooling the boys, thought I was crazy when we got together. He wasn’t a homeschool believer, and was adamant that the boys belonged in school. It worked for us, because they were in school and I was working full time. I didn’t argue much.

At the time, I assumed I’d be working full time forever. The days of staying home were long gone and should be neatly packed away. While I longed to be home again, I just couldn’t fathom that happening. Who takes on a woman, and two kids from a previous marriage, and supports the stay at home endeavor?

(I know the answer to that question!)

I’m not sure if I’m that persuasive, or if he’s just that good hearted (maybe a little of both?) but through a series of events that we couldn’t control, and some that we could, I am home with our crew. I’ve been an at home wife and mom since August. We’ve been homeschooling since December. And I was wondering if my hubby was a believer in all (or most) things homeschool, or if he was simply “along for the ride?”

My answer came one afternoon recently.

I had been carrying on about government funded education options, the pros and cons, and why some homeschool groups don’t let homeschoolers that use K12 type programs participate in their activities. I’m not a fan of exclusion, to be honest. But on that same honest token, I get the concern with the government funded/backed issues and losing our right to homeschool, which is a right I believe in and will fight for.

So, he obliged and listened – and I didn’t sum it up in a paragraph for him like I just did here. I probably talked for a couple of hours, but who knows. He was listening and I was not stopping. Well, I did finally stop. Dear hubby had that “okay, whatever” look on his face. (It’s not so bad as it may sound; it’s more like “I trust you to make curriculum and schooling choices.”)

Some time passed, I’m not sure if it was just a few days or maybe a week or two. I brought up an awesome math resource I found, and was telling him how it’s free and it’s this and it’s that and I am excited to give it try. He nodded, and asked, “Is it government funded?”

Aha! He has been listening.

Homeschool Confessions #4: Math

Hi. I’m a homeschool Mom of 3 boys, and a baby girl. I stay home and teach, clean, cook, etc. Sometimes I sit on the couch and delegate the chores while I’m nursing (or just sitting!) I read aloud to and with the kids nearly every day. We read straight from the bible, from a devotional book, and right now, from a book on stuff/ecology/economy/systems. It’s a good read. Lengthy, a little beyond the younger two, but a good one so far.

I was never a history buff, but I try to engage the boys in historical-type topics. I try to have them practice some sort of writing exercise almost daily. Sometimes we just focus on penmanship (which, for some odd reason, one of the boys is fighting tooth and nail). We have a weekly home ec day, where we just bake and clean and practice life skills without ever touching a textbook.

I love workbooks and worksheets and “busy” work. I like the kids to become proficient at a skill, and therefore will make them practice a lot. The new information doesn’t stop while we practice skills we already have, though. I just like seeing them put on paper that they really have something figured out. I like to encourage them to teach each other – like trickle down education. It’s pretty nifty.

We don’t do the same thing everyday. In fact, I change it up all the time. I’m still not sure what works best for the oldest, so instead of getting stuck in a rut, I change it up. The kids know they have school time every day, but they don’t always know if we’ll be working together, or sitting at the table, or what order they will do their subjects for the day.

I loathe math. Not adding and subtracting. Or even multiplication or division. I can handle fractions, decimals, and counting back change. But algebra makes me sick. I get a headache instantly and my brain becomes dumb. To combat this, I spent lots of time watching YouTube videos so I could help the oldest with his work. (Am I allowed to say that doing so sucked? No? Okay, then I won’t say it.)

Guess what I found? I found an online compilation of YouTube videos, with lots of online work, and tests, and it’s free. It starts with basic math and works up all the way to trigonometry and calculus. So now, I sit back and let the kids watch the YouTube videos, and then work the problems. This program even tells us when they are proficient with a skill! (Click here to check out the program! Note: I am not in any way affiliated with Khan Academy, and I receive nothing for using or recommending it. Just sharing something I found with you!)

My confession boils down to this: I am taking a “backseat” position with math. I am admitting that just because I homeschool, doesn’t mean I know everything (or even have to). Homeschooling means I know how to find and use resources and have vowed to teach my kids the same thing.

Have you ever taken a “backseat” position with a subject? Or anything in life?