Thursday, May 08, 2014

What I've Learned

After over 9 years of homeschooling, I have learned so much about the process.  I have streamlined just about everything we do and realize that we don't have to do anything the way others do unless it directly benefits us.  It's so much better to create your own mold and evolve into your own style.  Here are some other things I've learned:
  • I've learned to buy some curriculum a year ahead so we can use it for 2 years. We just go a little slower that first year, then finish quickly the second year.  This saves money and time.
  • I've learned that while a homeschool group can be a wonderful thing, it gets dull after a while.  The older my kids got, the more they just wanted to hang with the 2 or 3 close friends they've made from those groups.  Also, really good (teen) classes, field trips, and activities are a lot less frequent so you start planning more of your own activities with just the close friends. 
  • I've learned that so much more understanding, enthusiasm, and retention happens in 60-90 minutes of formal instruction rather than in the 4-8 hours I see frequently happening in the middle and high school homeschooling years.  
  • I've learned that outside activities (sports, arts, religion, field trips, hanging with friends, etc.) are very important and make for a more well-rounded kid.    
  • I've learned to savor this precious time with my kids.  They really do grow so fast.  K is less than a year from starting her dream career.  She is at one of the best cosmetology schools in the country.  She already has a few job offers from major NYC salons, and pending offers for when she gets her license in a few months.  J is graduating LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in less than 2 months.  She has amassed $15000 in scholarships and grants for 4 semesters at a performing arts college and will be living on Manhattan's Upper West Side in the fall.  And W, whom I've been homeschooling since Kindergarten, is now a teenager taking 4-5 MMA classes a week, has a keen ability for computer programming, software, hardware, and gaming, and who has such a healthy and bright outlook on life.  He has pushed hard through his dyslexia and hardly any of it is noticeable anymore.  He is now doing most of his academics independently and his entire curriculum and output are on or above grade level (well, spelling is almost there, lol).  I only see great things happening for him.  I know I will look back at this time and know it was the best of my life. (Not that things will all be downhill from here, but having my whole family together and seeing them take steps to begin their adult lives is the most incredible, precious thing there is to me)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

No Labels

I think I'm done reading about how other people homeschool.  No one else out there seems to do things the way we do.  One of the things I've learned is that pigeon-holing yourself into a certain homeschool label is rarely beneficial.  You have to be flexible.  Most of us follow more than one philosophy and method.  I've come to the conclusion that we are probably 80% unschooling (W pursues his interests all day long with only an hour or so of parent led, but child requested formal academics) and 20% Charlotte Mason (narrations, short lessons, lots of outdoor time).  I'd like to say we are 100% unschoolers, but I feel it's my job to make sure he's prepared for college (and/or anything else he may choose in the future).  I've been through this twice already and I know what good colleges want to see.  And being cute and fun will not get you in.  Kids unfortunately do NOT know best (I know I'm getting the stink eye from radical unschoolers right now) and I plan on seeing to it that W is fully prepared for any number of post-high school choices so he can comfortably make a decision on what he'd like to do.  This doesn't mean 6-8 hours a day of rigorous academics.  It means making sure W is proficient in high-level math, can read well and critically with understanding and interest (and hopefully joy), and that he can write creatively and with purpose.  Everything else, like history, geography, and science will be incorporated into W's reading and writing and will be covered via many field trips.  As a matter of fact, we started on more independent reading and written narrations this week.  I feel the written narration is better than note-taking/copying out of a book.  It allows W to summarize the whole section and put it into his own words.  It improves not only his reading and comprehension, but his writing, grammar, and paragraph mechanics.

There are so many other great things W has and will learn as a homeschooled teen:  public speaking, volunteering, goal-setting, team work, and being a part of the real world now, not when he's out of college.  Yeah, many of these can all be done in public/private high school, but kids get so much more out of them when they're self-initiated and in context to their lives.

Friday, May 02, 2014

My Favorite County


Living here is fun, interesting, and awesome.