Friday, January 8, 2010


There are many flavors of homeschooling, ranging from school-in-a-box to 'unschooling'. Little Guy went to kindergarten last year, and the first words out of his teacher's mouth at our October conference were, "He's a really out-of-the-box kind of kid!" It's not hard to guess why we don't order a canned curriculum.

One thing I care deeply about is that I want my kids to learn, at an early age, what it is to have a passion, and what it means to pursue it. However, I draw a distinction between becoming passionate and becoming lost in passion. It's way too easy to get absorbed (or self-absorbed) by an interest to the exclusion of all else. I have one child who would gladly do without math for years, and one who could probably figure out how to function without ever writing a word. So we don't go the 'unschooling' route, at least insofar as that means only following the child's interests.

My compromise is this: give me 90 minutes for my stuff, and you can have the rest of the day to yourself. I'll make sure we have books, materials, web sites, or whatever you want on hand so you can thrive and grow.

Of course, since I've cultivated independent learners and thinkers, I have kids who know how to protest vehemently against things they don't like. So it usually takes much longer than 90 minutes to do 90 minutes worth of work. Still, my requirements are pretty minimal: math, and writing, and some sort of history, and the occasional handwriting or map skills or grammar. Little Guy has to do reading daily. The others just read (and read, and read) without being asked, so I don't even put it on their lists.

The kids like having a read-aloud, and I like it, too. It gives us all common ground, and it's a nice, gentle way to start the school day. I usually try to coordinate the read-aloud with the time period we're studying for history.

I used to be a lot better about field trips, but now that I'm working so much I don't have enough energy or time.  The kids like field trips, and ideally we'd do one every week. This year it's more like one a month. That stinks, but it's life.

Today in Carry On, Mr. Bowditch we got to the part where he's teaching the common sailors how to navigate using the stars. There was talk of the sextant. We have a Playmobil sextant around here somewhere, but not a real one. Had to look that up on the web, along with instructions for how to use it. But the kids are clamoring for a real one. On the off-off-chance that you happen to have one among your possessions and are willing to show it to us, let me know.

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