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Practicing Homeschooling

homeschool making flashcardsI mentioned awhile ago that we are considering homeschooling Lillian. In order to get a feel for the experience, Alex and I began 'practicing' in December. Because I am home most often, I am largely in charge of creating activities and guiding Lil, though Alex is supportive and participates when he can. I started by intentionally changing my attitude. I re-framed our activities together as potential teachable moments. I began asking more questions of Lil and challenging her to read and use math in our daily lives. I try to do this in a natural way, leaving plenty of time for free play.

I gathered educational tools including writing paper, pencils with erasers, dice, cards, and other math manipulatives from Lil's existing art supplies and my former teaching materials. I organized these on a shelf in our dining room.

We decided together that it would be best to practice writing, reading, math, and exercise every day. Usually we sit together after breakfast when we are both in our best moods for a fifteen minute writing and math practice session. Later, we choose our daily exercise, be it walking, doing yoga, lifting weights, or working in the house or yard.

I organize writing practice loosely to include spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and handwriting. Activities may be free writing, dictation, copying, and writing letters.

Math includes learning facts, measuring, area, counting, patterns, and sorting. I use a workbook, worksheets, dice and cards to drill facts. We made a number line and flashcards together. I write area problems and patterns for her to solve. Her favorite math activity is making tests for me and checking my work.

Science, social studies, music, and art are covered in our everyday life. We explore biology in the garden, chemistry in the kitchen, history via the news, music and art at the library, geography through our travels, etc. We are being more intentional about investigating things as Lil desires.

The surprising result of practicing homeschooling has been that our family loves it more than we imagined. Given a small amount of direction and practice, Lil's math, writing, and reading skills have improved dramatically. We keep some of her work in a portfolio to track progress. Lil is publishing about homeschooling on her blog.

We sent in our application to the Columbus Public School lottery. We live a block away from an informal alternative K-8 school that receives a large number of applications for about seventy full day kindergarten spots. We are still unsure whether we would accept a position if we are offered one.

I'm curious: What do you think about homeschooling? Do you want to read about our educational philosophy and activities on Hounds in the Kitchen?

Added to Simple Lives Thursday.