Friday, September 30, 2011

Homeschool Life, Early Reading Myth, and Gospel-Reading Homework

The new Bible Study homework is to read and journal Luke 15 - 25, which finishes the Book of Luke. Sorry for getting behind on this. This homework is due on Friday, October 7.  

The next assignment is to read and journal John 1-5, which is due on Wednesday, October 12.  

If you want the Thanksgiving books for reading the Gospels along with us, please e-mail me or comment on any post on Wednesday, October 12, letting me know you read and journaled along with us. If you are the first to comment or e-mail on that day, I will send you the books. Just e-mail me with your address. Thank you. 


This post explains why we decided to read all the Gospels consecutively.


Homeschool Life & And The Early Reading Myth

No matter what life looks like in any given week, homeschooling must go on; consistency is key. In traditional school if the teacher is sick or otherwise down, a substitute shows up. 

In a homeschooling environment learning depends far less on a teacher being constantly present. Children take control of their own learning early on, because often Mom is changing a diaper, fixing a boo boo, helping someone else, or shuffling laundry. 

I've found homeschooling to be far easier and even richer, when it doesn't depend on packaged curriculums, which are full of teacher scripts and endless things the parent must lead. If you've never taught, a packaged curriculum is a good place to start, but you'll quickly find that less is more

Structured time engaged in reading, writing, speaking and arithmetic serves best to create a life-long learner....not worksheets about these disciplines, but real engagement with books, pencil and paper, and a solid arithmetic resource.

Then, kids will explore and do the hands-on on their own, if you leave them enough time for creative play.  Don't inundate them with assigned work, and especially rethink any busy work.  When they need you for one of their hands-on schemes, get involved. If not, just keep materials available for their explorations and interests.

I just heard today, for example, from Mary, who came into the house with a handful of leaves:

"Mommy, I'm going to start a leaf collection. I need some tape to tape them down."

We've already checked out a book on identifying leaves, because this happens to also be a regular fall passion for my Peter.  I'll follow up on Mary's lead by looking through the book with her, so she can try to identify her own leaves.

Simplicity and consistency make learning happen everyday, no matter what this sin-cursed earth throws your way...aging parents, chronic pain, disease, financial crisis, whatever. 

Have them read for an hour (or half-hour for beginning readers), then have them speak or journal about their reading, and later, dictate some words to them to foster sound-family acquisition, assign some math, have them choose something science- or social studies-related to read about, get them moving, and give them time to create something. 

When you have five minutes, pull them aside and do a writing conference, going over what was great, and possibly weak, about the day's writing sample. Always follow a positive, negative, positive sequence when critiquing any work.  A lot of teaching isn't necessary. Sprinkle it here and there, while being a good facilitator (not being afraid of messes :))

Pleasure reading. We are huge Eleanor Estes fans. They've been through Ginger Pye, Pinky Pye, The Hundred Dresses, The Moffats, Rufus M.(Moffats sequel), and now, The Middle Moffat (another Moffats sequel).

I don't do formal schooling anymore before six years old...and I believe seven years old is fine too. Enough research shows that there's no advantage to early reading (early means starting reading instruction at age 5). And if precious playtime is stolen trying to drill these things, the child is perhaps worse off, because young kids learn best through play, not through instruction. Yes, it's hard to quantify play-learning, but we must trust it as God's design for young children. Language acquisition, in all its forms, happens naturally through play.

Here is an excerpt from an article entitled, Why Are Finland's Schools Successful?:

Teachers in Finland spend fewer hours at school each day and spend less time in classrooms than American teachers. Teachers use the extra time to build curriculums and assess their students. Children spend far more time playing outside, even in the depths of winter. Homework is minimal. Compulsory schooling does not begin until age 7. “We have no hurry,” said Louhivuori. “Children learn better when they are ready. Why stress them out?”

Have games and activities around that include letters and numbers, but never take the lead with these materials. I had one child, Paul, fixate on letters and numbers even before turning two, and while we never denied him the use of materials, we were careful to stay out of the way. 

Recently, Miss Beth, 33 months, wanted some letter play, so I went with it and gave her pointers. Since she loves singing so much she already knew the ABC song, and it was a natural leap for her to want to point while singing. She may not display any further interest, but this week, it's her passion.

Mary, five in December, began making letters on pieces of paper recently. I've found them all over the house, full of her chicken scratch. I got out the Handwriting Without Tears items and showed her how to use them, in case she had real interest in learning to print. She was thrilled, so today she learned how to properly make an E and F. 

Again, this may be the end of it for now, but today it made her happy. 

Here is Paul, learning to type using a program Jess blogged about.

Here Beth is measuring how many things she can find that are as tall as her pointer.

Beth is moving better yesterday and today. I am encouraged, because the best indicator of active disease is the morning stiffness and stiffness after prolonged sitting. That hasn't disappeared, but any day it appears better encourages me that maybe a remission is on the horizon?

Here she's rolling down the hills during homeschool soccer class.


Jess said...

how did the boys' like the typing site? both the kids' liked the end of the stage songs that were song back to them. :) praying for a restful and comfortable weekend (miss beth).

Christine said...

Paul liked it a lot, but Peter got a little frustrated. It was more sitting than I think he was expecting. He is still interested in doing it, however. I am so glad you posted the link because everything else I've found they've lost interest in.