Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The First Snow

The First Snow
(An Example of Home Learning vs School Learning)

Ava bursts out the front door on an early, chilly morning, excited to explore the season’s first snow. She jumps in with both feet, feeling the soft fluffy snow billow up around her feet. Ava screams and giggles. She notices how her voice sounds different in the frozen surroundings than when she yells in the summer time.
She sees her footprints in the snow. She also discovers another set of footprints as well. She follows them and sees they lead to the tree. Looking up, she realizes they must belong to the squirrel she sees perched on that branch.
Ava bounces over to the driveway where she discovers a frozen puddle. She jumps on it, breaking the fragile ice and notices that under the layer of ice, there is still unfrozen water!
She then runs to the back yard and builds a snowman, balancing each giant snowball she created carefully on the one below. She then walks around her yard to find just the right sticks, pine cones, and even a sand shovel from her sandbox, to decorate her snowman.
Ava looks at her mittens closely. She notices tiny individual snowflakes. She can see their pretty individual shapes and designs. Then she licks them!

Sadie looks out the window, “It snowed!!!” she exclaims. But there was no time to play now, she has to catch the bus.
At school, Sadie gets to color a picture of a snowman. She draws eyes and a smile with her purple crayon.
The teacher has a fun game for the children to play! Paper snowflakes! Sadie admires the pretty designs cut out of paper as they try to find the matching snowflake on the classroom floor. They even get to sing Frosty the Snowman at music time!
Then, at story time, the teacher reads a special wintertime storybook about playing in the snow. Sadie gets excited and jumps up and down. She wants to tell everyone the story of how much fun she had sledding last winter with her daddy. The teacher politely asks her to sit back down so the other children can hear the book.

Afterwards, the children stand in neat lines and go to the lunchroom for lunch. Recess will be in the gym today since it is cold and snowy and the kids would get too wet.
When Sadie gets off the bus at the end of the day, she runs and jumps in the already unfrozen puddles. Her mother asks her to come right in since she has her school shoes on. Besides, it’s almost time for supper and she has homework.
After supper, Sadie does her homework. She is to write a paper about a day of fun in the snow.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

We're homeschooling!

So after much deliberation, John and I have decided we will homeschool. There are TONS of reasons I want to homeschool, but most of all, it just feels right. Learning and teaching and guiding is just such a natural part of our family. Why change what is working so well already. Ava loves to learn, we love to teach her. And who knows her better than us?
So anyways, I decided I'd try out this blogging thing I hear so much about. Mostly just to chronicle our learning life through homeschooling. It seems like such a wonderful adventure and I don't want to forget about these important times. I'd also like something for our kids to look back on about their learning experience.
So if you'd like to follow along, cool.

While Ava is in ECFE preschool at the moment, I have started doing a lot of home learning with her already. She is so enthusiastic about learning that she is easily bored with the pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum, although she still enjoys going to her pre-school and has made many friends.
We have started going to some homeschool groups and activities where she has also made friends. Her preschool friends will be going off to all different local schools, and a few will be homeschooling. Her homeschool group friends won't be going anywhere and I love that she makes friends with children of all ages. She looks up to the older girls especially. At the group we go to, Ava and Noah have learned to play hockey from the older kids and Ava has learned some games and activities from the older girls. It's so neat, since she is our oldest, to watch her learning from her older friends too.

Ava is crazy about writing and is reading basic words already at 4 1/2. She started keeping a journal. She writes the date on top of her notebook page and writes sentences about her day. I only help spell when she asks. Most of the time she tries it all on her own. I love looking through how she sounds out and hears words. I generally don't correct her with her spelling right now. I love that she is learning and playing with words and spelling and enjoying it all on her own accord.
She's also taken an interest toward math and picked up basic addition and subtraction quickly and easily. There are some great on-line games she uses for math as well as worksheets I make or print off for her. Recently, she came up to me with John's calculator and showed me how it added numbers. I had thought that John must have taught her it, but that wasn't the case. She picked it up and figured it out on her own. She played with it the rest of the day, "quizzing" me on addition facts.
I used to have a lot of questions about how the method of homeschooling known as "unschooling" or "interest led" learning worked. I no longer question this! It's so amazing to me how children really learn!
If I were to have sat Ava down and formerly taught her how to use the calculator or how to read and write, in a little desk, at 9 am sharp, she probably would have just been bored and want to go back to what she was doing. Even if she sat still, she may not have been interested at the moment and would have just sat there to make me happy. But learning on her own, when she was ready, excited, and interested, made for the lasting knowledge and REAL learning that we all want our kids to have. It's almost too simple sometimes!

So anyways, after just a few months, I've discovered that homeschooling is more a way of life than a scheduled daily event. Even going on walks take on a whole new meaning. Now instead of quickly walking to where we are going, or around the block, we stop, look, listen, and learn. She and Noah ask questions and I answer them. It's amazing all you can learn from a simple walk around the block. From water condensation and evaporation to why trees have pine cones and what kind of nest or feather it is they come across.
Kids want to learn about the world around them. And it's not something that needs to be forced. In fact, it's better if we don't force it. They can learn more than we would even think to teach them if we just let them explore and answer their questions. Or better yet, let them learn how to figure out the answers themselves.

Yes, the road ahead will be so full of wonder, excitement, and adventure. I'm so glad I'll get to share it all and learn right along with them.