I have been asked to share a little bit about my homeschool routine. I find this humorous because I am JUST finishing up our Kindergarten year with my 5 year old and the other two are just absorbing whatever they can (which, surprisingly is a lot!).
However, before I begin sharing WHAT I am doing I think it’s important for me to share my objective as a homeschooling mom, because it is significantly different than a public school system’s objective and once it is clear what my objective is in homeschooling, my methods will make much more sense!
I am in no way critiquing the public school system with this post (or any of my homeschooling posts), my husband is a public school teacher and we live in a city where MANY children are children of immigrants and without an English speaking public education system, they would never have the opportunities and experiences as they do. But I think it goes without saying that there are definite flaws in our countries education system.
This system was originally designed to create more educated workers for the country. Factories were popping up all over the place, the “work force” was moving from small scale, family-based businesses to larger companies and industry. We as a country needed an employable workforce who could read and write and understand basic math skills. And so the public school system was created.
My objective as a home educator however, is not to create an employable factory worker (or office worker), my objective is to create a free-thinking, independent citizen who LOVES to learn and never stops in their pursuit of personal and educational growth. My objective is to create individuals who can understand logic, craft intelligent arguments and have a moral compass to guide their every decision. I don’t want to tell my kids what to think, I want to teach them HOW to think. I don’t want my kids to graduate high school with a uniform set of facts but with the tools and work ethic and passion to learn ANYTHING they want to.
Because of this objective I am not really worried about “keeping up with the class”. I think many times homeschooling moms are so nervous that because they aren’t trained teachers, that they aren’t going to do a good job, and because of that we are constantly looking to societal norms to make us feel better (at least, that’s how it was for me!). The problem with this is that if I am trying to teach my kindergartener how to tell time for example (because I saw it on some list) and it’s just not clicking for him, I can be tempted (and trust me, I’ve done this!!) to go over it and over it and try to FORCE him to learn it and we’re not stopping until he gets at least one right! Before you know it, I’m frustrated, he’s in tears and “school” is something that he dreads.
It has been SO helpful for me to see education as a marathon and not a sprint. If I am able to give my child a LOVE of learning, tap into that natural curiosity and excitement that children already have, then my child will NEVER stop learning. I will gladly sacrifice his/her ability to tell time for another year if that means that school keeps it’s joy and enjoyment, because if my child loves learning, they will eventually learn how to tell time. If I get anal about checking every single “subject” or topic off a list and because of that turn school into a nightmare, as soon as school is over or graduation day comes, my child will stop learning, or even worse, they will see “education” and information as something you only hold on to to get a certain number on a test to please mom and dad. <— This is my greatest fear and what I am TRYING to avoid, but this is exactly what public schools are trying to achieve.
I believe that if I make it a habit to expose my children to an academically rich environment and let their curiosity lead the way, and have FUN learning and make it a natural part of our every day lives, they will be very well educated.
This doesn’t mean I don’t have a plan, or curriculum or I’m not ever going to give my kids tests. All it means is that if we are doing something and they are having trouble understanding the concept (ESPECIALLY in kindergarten – or before) I am not going to stress out or push the subject. I will stop and move on to something else, and then bring it back a few days later and re-explain and try again, and be patient with my child, because I KNOW sometimes I don’t always get things the first time and I appreciate others having patience with me.
Knowing what my objective is helps me to not feel pressure to PACK our day with school work from morning until night, but instead leave plenty of empty pockets in our day and just listen and be attentive to my children and seize every opportunity to satisfy and pique their curiosity.
For example, going to the park and having play time and one of my kids trips over a tree root. After consoling him I ask him if he knows what these are. He says no. I tell him they are roots and they bring water and nutrients into the tree, all the way up the trunk, out through the branches and to the leaves. We pick a leaf and look closely at the little veins in the leaf where the water and nutrients get exposed to light and photosynthesis occurs. He is completely in AWE and captured by our little lesson. Later, on the way home I stop by the store to grab some celery and we fill a glass with food colored water and in a few hours we can see the water traveling up the veins of the celery and into the leaves.
He didn’t even realize it, but we just did “school” and I didn’t plan for it but I took advantage of the moment, of their natural curiosity and explained in far more detail that he probably understood, but I’m exposing him to it. The concepts, the words. In a few years, when we study it “for real” it won’t be the very first time he is hearing these words or being introduced to this concept.
To me, homeschooling in Kindergarten is all about having a simple plan, not letting another person’s “schedule” dictate what my child ‘SHOULD’ know, making space for play and imagination and being present and intentional with every moment, having deep conversations and asking the second and third question to make learning an ongoing activity and a natural part of life.
If you’d like to read more on this theory and approach of education I highly recommend reading A Thomas Jefferson Education. Stay tuned for my next installment where I will show you what a typical day looks like for us and how I keep things simple and fun with our kindergarten education.