AMPED up on fun

Recently we went to Science world to check out their new exhibit. The boys had such a fun time. Will definitely have to go back on a day when it is less busy.

There was all sorts of fun tools to play with that the music industry uses. The kids got to try their hand at playing, singing and mixing.
DJ in the future?

He can learn wherever

Recently I was questioned about how I could possibly be teaching my kids. We don’t really follow any curriculum, we don’t have particular set “school” times. The closest things we get is the older two have quiet time when the littlest is having his nap, and they are supposed to exercise their brains. The thing is they choose what they do. Some days they play with Lego, or put together a craft. Other days they will grab work books or ask for a word search.

The thing is that is not the only time they are learning. The are learning something most times in the day. It has been amazing this past while as we are learning to trust our children, that they can learn and figure things out. Sure there are things that need to be improved on as they mature and grow. Spelling will come with time as will their reading.

In the picture above Ainsley was asking me how to spell words so we were sounding them out and he was printing the letters. Previous to it he was doing a word search and an I spy game on his placemat. The family we were with for some reason were stunned that he was capable of doing this. It is stuff he is interested in and has been wanting to do, so he has. Both my husband and I believe in being open and allowing our children the knowledge they seek. We don’t tell them that they are too young to do something or overly dumb down the answer to their question. At the same time we don’t use big fancy words that we barely understand. We speak to them as human beings who deserve to know about the world around them. If the boys don’t understand they know they are allowed to ask questions for clarification.

The point is, sure we do things a bit differently but that is okay. My children are actually well rounded people. They are individual and while they may have to learn things at a different rate, they learn at their rate and they learn to love what they learn. They are empowered to learn wherever they are.

A Curriculum Conundrum

One of the most common conversations I see with a lot of home learning families is what programs and curriculum are they using this year. This conversation often creates a lot of discussion and some tension. See curriculum is¬†expensive, often for something that doesn’t always get used or you child doesn’t blend well with it.

Often you will end up with stack and stacks of stuff that gathers dust. Most other home learning families struggle every year with what they will have to supplement their child’s interest. Do we need more stuff? Do we get the next level or finish the level we have even though the child knows all the concepts? What to do with all the half used stuff that just sits on the shelves.

I’m pretty sure just about every home learning family has at least a bookshelf or to filled with stuff that is currently not being used, maybe more than one. ūüėČ

So that is why this year, I’m stuck. My school requires the funding that we get to be used on curriculum, at least partially. The issues is there really isn’t stuff we need. With so much online and in the library why do we need to buy more junk, I mean wonderful learning materials, that are used for the year and then not needed? Or work books that are so redundant and repetitive that no one actually wants to use the whole thing? Or textbooks that really don’t give you the whole story or accurate information?

The answer is I don’t. I much rather teach my children to use resources and have memberships to the different centers in the area. We are fortunate enough to live just outside of a big metropolis area that has wonderful science centers, cultural resources and a large amount of home learners. The resources are almost endless ¬†and they don’t need to come from a textbooks. Heck it’s better if it doesn’t. Real books, real experiences, real life is where learning truly comes from. It’s one of the reasons we have kept the children home. We know their learning is much more.

Do you use curriculum? Why or why not?

Another year of NOT going to school

Today is the first day back to school for many children in my area. With living kiddie corner from a school we see the daily activity, the coming and going of a hundred or so of little children.  My Facebook has been covered with first day of school pictures and most of them look completely adorable.Wearing new clothes with a new haircut, ready to head off on a new adventure.
My boys looked nothing like that today.

They are clothed in the same old clothes. Well the older two are , lil is rejecting clothes today ( he had at least a shirt on earlier ) There are no new back packs or pencils. There honestly is nothing new or special about today. They have watched a bit of TV, played lego and read some books. Later they will have lunch and do something that interests them.  Later this week we will get together with some other home learners and have a picnic in the park. The children will play and run and laugh.
Sure this year will be different Damian is in Grade 2 and Ainsley is in kindergarten. Which pretty much means I have doubled my reporting workload but that is about it for change. We will continue our daily lives in a fairly relaxed fashion and life will go on.

The School Quandary

Every year I go through this same issue. I try to figure out what will be the best options for my kids with their schooling lives. Now granted to them we really don’t do much but I stress and wonder if it is all worth it. Now I’m not talking about putting them into a brick and mortar school but I am talking about what program we want to be enrolled with.
We happen to live in a fantastic province for homeschooling, and there are so many options. I have really enjoyed our unschooling ways but there are so many schools that require a bit more reporting and in turn give you more classes and other options free of charge. I still would get my funding plus the classes. This is where my quandry sits as I would love for the boys to have more options to do things, but do I want to sacrifice what I know works for our family for maybe classes the kids would enjoy?

This quandary leaves me often wondering what we need as a family and what really works for us. We need activities that keep us feeding our souls. We need to do things that cause us less stress not more. We need down time and time to connect. We need to be able to have flexibility to enjoy our lives.
Yes the boys need to learn, but they do that with the constant push of work books. ¬†Could we do more some days sure. The boys do, do more than I plan for them. They learn in ways that amaze me some days. Sure there are things that their skills need to develop more on. You know what though so do I. I make spelling mistakes, I don’t read as often as I should and I get other facts mixed up. ( not always my finest moments) But learning to grow from mistakes are important. You can’t always be right.
So I will probably continue with my quandry for a few ore weeks. I will check out other local schools but I honestly doubt I will end up changing. What works for us last year will work this year. Also I really don’t need extra stress with the baby on the way.

Time to Learn?!??

As the leaves change and people being to think of Back to School.

I had a bit of an odd question today. A family member asked is Ainsley was excited to get to start learning. I was momentarily confused and thrown off. You see Ainsley starts kindergarten this year, but seeing as we homeschool it’s not like he is off on some major adventure. ¬†Sure this year there will be a few new books for him, but he got those last year. Sure he will be in a few different classes but he attended some last year as well. Really I think the only difference is he will be in Beavers this year and maybe 1-2 other classes that he wasn’t old enough for last year. ¬†The the extra funding and reporting for me which really isn’t something that will be noticed by him.

So it got me thinking a bit. How many other people think that learning starts once they enter into formal schooling. Not that anything we do is really formal, but that aside. Ainsley has been learning since he was born just like everyone else. Now he is a bit more methodical than his older brother. He likes activities that he sits and quietly focuses on a task. He like to write, read and play with lego. He is a thinker, he likes to process the world going on around him. Lets be honest he is really pretty much done with the requirements of kindergarten in the province, Damian saw to that over the last year.

Ainsley will continue life as pretty much the same he will talk to our Learning Consultant over the year and tell her about the things he does. He will play and enjoy life. Sure we will read and he might just start doing it more himself but I’m not worried. See I know he is learning I know there is no start or end time to the wonders of his little brain. He is still be just who he is, my sweet, quirky, opinionated little guy. He’ll learn and what he doesn’t learn today he will learn tomorrow.

Creative learning

One of the biggest advantages to homeschooling is learning can take place anywhere and at anytime. Math puzzles can be done while snuggling on the couch. Language Arts discussed while swinging on the swings. The seasons and environmental questions can be asked in nature, where these questions are best answered.

It is easy to get creative with learning if you stop thinking about learning. Think about fun things and exciting things to do stop expecting learning and allow¬†experiences¬†to come. They will come with doing ūüôā

Here Damian is just trying to make the most number of pie pieces with 4 cuts. Does he realize he is learning fractions? Nope. Is he having fun? For sure. He is spending time figuring out a puzzle. there was no wrong answer. He didn’t have any¬†expectations¬†other than try and figure out the puzzle he picked to do.

Marshmellows and toothpicks make for lots of fun that everyone can get into. Sure it’s¬†geometry¬†but they don’t care they are making shapes and trying to get the to stand up.

Life is full of wonder and so much fun. Get creative! 

The right to choose

I like to give my kids choices. Sometimes the choices aren’t¬†what¬†they would like, but they do get to choose. Giving children choices gives them a feeling of control in their lives. Children need to learn how to make choices when they are young. They need to know that their¬†opinion¬†matters.

This is so true in school work. There are few places where children are programmed as much as they are in brick and mortar schools. Teacher can’t really give children choices about the work that they are going to do. When you have 30 some odd kids to tend to it is just not¬†feasible. You can’t just let them choose what they want to learn. This is an unfortunate¬†condition¬†of brick and mortar schools.

With home learning you have a lot more freedom to follow your child. To see where their passions truly lie. Kids are generally full of wonder and want to know more about their environment. Allowing them to have choices allow them to feel like they can control their own life. They have the ability to grow where they want to grow.

Now in our family there are a few things that I feel must be covered, basic math, reading and writing. I give choices in these area of what to do. We try and make it fun, we play games for math, because generally I find math boring and worksheets make me want to go to sleep. Why would I ask my son to do something that I would never do if I had the choice. Though I do leave the option there for him, some days he does it for fun. We write as a family and we read as a family. We really try to keep things less stressful.

This year I am really focusing on enjoying learning. Part of enjoying learning is finding passion. Finding passion is a lot easier when you can choose. We don’t do book work everyday or even every week, but we learn all the time.

If you give your child the option to choose to learn about what interests them and how it interests them, you might be very surprised but what they will do.

Let them be little

Most adults I know wish they could be kids again, free from the worries and stresses of the world. Most kids¬†cant¬†wait to grow up. I cant blame the kids or¬†really¬†the adults, while you are young adult life is so amazing. We¬†constantly¬†are getting kids to grow up or think about the future. You know what who cares what they want to be when they grow up. They are kids they have years to grow up. Right now my son tells me he wants to be a superhero who saves the world. Great! there is nothing that he needs to do right now to prep for that¬†because¬†it could change next week. If he wants to be a doctor, great! At 6 he¬†doesn’t¬†need to do anything. Right now he needs to be a kid. He needs to explore life and find out what he likes. He doesn√®t have to think about getting old and getting a job right now. That will come with time. Right now he needs to be little and have fun.¬†Don’t¬†try and get your kids to grow up to fast, childhood is short let them live it.

Pirate SuperHeros
World explorer

He can be whatever he wants when he grows up but right now he can be a kid!

Letting it flow

I have struggled with just letting go. I’m a teeny bit of a control person, but I know it will be better for my children if I just let the learning come. I find they actually learn more when I don’t try and force it. Crazy I know , but it works.

Today was an example to me of how things can flow if you just let it be.

It started with DAmian grabbing The Usborne Geography Encyclopaedia and finding a page about continents. He asked me what they were. So we then went to our wall map.
We looked at the different land masses. shouted them out a bunch. I then asked Damian if he would like a coloring sheet. He did so I found him one online.
They then colored and made up songs and had some reinforcement with the words on the paper.
It flowed it didn’t seem push or¬†stretched, and I think we both got more out of it. I later asked home how many¬†continents¬†there were and he remembered.
Will he remember them tomorrow, who knows, did we have fun and a stress free learning time, yup so all is good