The ABCs of Homeschooling - Letter E
Tonight's post, beginning with the letter E, is eclectic. For those of you who may not know, the definition of eclectic is "deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources". I would certainly fall into this category, but I didn't set out to do that.
There is no question that my oldest son, Joshua, is intellegent. He also likes to learn. That doesn't mean school was a good fit for him. There is a vast difference between enjoying learning and enjoying school. So, I realized pretty quickly that I was going to have to do some modification if I was going to have any success.
Let's start with ideas. I've had some "brilliant" ones from time to time, which more often than not, fell flat on their faces. For instance, in kindergarten, he had a character course. I got this idea to buy him a jumbo package of colored markers, because, as I recall, coloring was involved. I excitedly held up the package, expecting him to be thrilled. To say his response was ho-hum, would be an understatement. Perhaps, our homeschool motto could have been, "Back to the drawing board", but we didn't have a motto.
Here's another that didn't work, but was quickly solved: I had intended to have phys. ed. class. That was not needed either for him or any of my other kids. I discovered early on that, for the most part, all I had to do was record their activities. Throw in some community sports, and voila!
At some point in my homeschooling, I learned that people have different modalities for their best learning. Josh, and Andrew, my youngest son, are both auditory learners. Conversations, films, and audio books were good ways for them to learn. In fact, it seemed that neither of them ever stopped talking! Josh was excellent at picking up new vocabulary this way, and Andrew enjoyed talking to adults to learn skills like taking care of horses, dairy beef, and meat rabbits. To this day, and they are both adults, this is their preferred way of learning. Josh likes documentaries and Andrew likes youtube videos.
I once bought Cuisenaire rods (math manipulatives) for my son Ben. Since he likes wood and building, I thought they would appeal to him. Instead, my daughter, Tabitha had an affinity for them. One good thing about having a large family is that what doesn't work for one will work for someone else down the road.
My kids all enjoy music, and I sometimes incorporated that into our learning. Two examples would be Sing, Spell, Read, and Write, and Lyrical Life Science. Just learning to sing and play instruments is educational in itself, and so choir, worship team, and instrument lessons were part of the program.
Of course, some kids need motivation to read. Book It, from Pizza Hut, came in handy there. Others, like to read for the sake of reading. A favorite haunt of our's was a quaint little library maintained by a church in the same town where we went to the dentist. I recall that Book It lasted about 5 months out of the year. One time, we had gone to the dentist and I suggested we go see what books we could find. My son, Ben, said, "Why? Book It is over!" Oh, Ben.
Much to my children's chagrin, I always tried to do something educational while on vacation. I could always count on moaning and complaining for that one. In particular, I remember the Drake Well Museum and Park, zoos (always popular), Corning Glass Factory, the Crayola Factory, and Martin's Guitar.
There were good old homemade flash cards for math facts, about the only thing we drilled, other than perhaps scripture verses for AWANA. Speaking of which, our extracurricular activities were not so extracurricular. By that, I mean, we did an awful lot of them, and I considered it all part of learning, not to be separated into a neat little compartment called school. Do you not, for instance, use math while cooking, farming, or sewing? Is reading not also used when completing 4H books or reading directions in order to assemble or install something? Speeches - again, 4H, or teaching children's church.
I think I'll just stop right here and say, eclectic is life. Life is eclectic. In other words, we started out like, I'm sure, everyone else. We tried to duplicate school at home. I'm convinced some never deviate from that. I'm also convinced that is a recipe for burnout. I had one, I repeat, one, who thrived on textbooks. At 24, she's still doing that; going to school and using textbooks, I mean.
Just please, if you are in the early years, understand that there are so many ways of learning. Given the right atmosphere, an awful lot of it doesn't even have to be taught. As kids have time to explore, ask questions, play games, and pursue interests, they will be learning. Am I saying jettison all bookwork? Of course not! Allow yourself to see learning through a different lens, however. And then, when you have just finished coloring Easter eggs as an art assignment and your son is quietly mixing together Easter egg dyes to see what the different colors make in combination, get out your log and jot it down as a science experiment, because, guess what, it is.