I was standing under the clothesline thinking about what is going on in my house this morning. Josh is working on his dinosaur book, Jess is making a birthday card, Nomi is setting up a game in the doll house, Daniel is gluing shields to his wooden castle and is about to join Nomis game.
I started to think how we got to this place where I could stand hanging out the laundry knowing that all is well in our household.
How I wish I had recorded more of our journey. Today my mind went back to the years when Daniel was little and Nomi was sick. This was our 3rd / 4th year of home-schooling Josh and Jess. We had done nothing for the whole year. This is at least what it felt like. I was so glad I wasnt being judged by our moderator, as a successful home-schooler or not, based on that year.
Later in the year I realised what the kids were really doing they both read well and read a variety of books, they were interested in learning, they wrote (though we werent always able to find their writings to file!), They could make decisions on how to spend their time they kept themselves fitfully occupied. They loved each other, loved God and were obedient, caring children.
I started to see things totally different. My 6 & 7 year olds were learning. Sure, we didnt have a paper trail, no nice notebooks, no reading lists, and no lapbooks, not even any artwork to speak of. But I had begun their skills in research, organization and independent learning. I had never set out to teach these things but looking back I can see how vital they are.
Research I often didnt have the time to answer all their questions, or they came at inopportune times or I just didnt know the answers – I would direct them to a book, CD Rom, magazine etc. I would take them to the library. I would listen to them read an article and discuss it with them if they got stuck while I cooked, fed the younger ones, or hung the washing.
Next to the example we set as parents, to go and find a reference that does know what we want to know, I think discussions and narrations (oral or written) have been hugely responsible for our children to seek out information they lack. This came about, not by any well-chosen curriculum or ideal but because our family likes to talk about things!
Organization this wasnt so proactive but more reactive I would get so frustrated with the clutter I would spend a day filing stuff, decluttering, organising cupboards and file-boxes. They would work along side of me.
Later on, when they did have paper work, we have spent many hours teaching my two left-handers which way papers go in a file, which way a file goes on the shelf, which way a paper clip goes on, which side to staple a group of papers and so forth.
We have often discussed our method of filing and storage and we brainstormed for better ways. We still have days that are totally focused on organization skills this applies to any area of their life not just paper piles.
They are responsible for their books, papers, files etc as opposed to me having everything at my desk and handing it to them at the appropriate time. I believe this has helped them take ownership of not only their belongings but also their learning.
Independent learning with the skills of reading, writing behind them, I exposed them to the world in little pieces, and without big expectations on them. I gave them plenty of opportunity to pursue their interest in a topic whether it was my chosen curriculum topic or not (and it generally was not!). I think Five in a Row has been very instrumental in our outlook here a gentle amount of information leaving plenty of room for curiosity.
Independent learning has really happened as the above skills (that of reading, writing, research and organization) have developed. By this stage they have a love of learning, a curiosity about certain things and the ability to pursue their questions. They dont need me to hold their hand, or to be in the same room or read the same book. They do need me to help them when they get stumped and at times to guide them to their next quest.
Having this little review to myself has been so timely. Our younger two are now 8 and 6. They are on a different track to learning these skills but they are on their way.
I need to keep these skills in my mind – Reading, Writing, Research, and Organization; leading to Independent learning.