Saturday, September 22, 2012

Life of a homeschooler, What are we learning?

In my post A Week in the Life of Homeschooler, I described how we've been running around to all these different classes and such. But what are my kids really learning? I thought I'd elaborate a bit in case you were wondering what we do besides driving! (Which is a great time to pop in an educational CD, discuss things together, or for the kids to look at some books, such as the collection of Native American Indian books I threw in the car this week!)

Learning is our lifestyle. We don't have a start and stop time and there's no division between learning and fun or a set time for learning vs not learning. When we're out and about running errands, such as grocery shopping, we are learning! When picking out fruit and vegetables, we talk about colors, textures, count how many we need, where they grow, the kids weigh them and can figure out the weight and cost. When we are actually home there's still lots of learning going on. When my son has a question, we look it up in a book or online. I try to let him figure out things rather than just answering. We play games and do fun activities in every subject and my kids don't realize they are learning. We are just having fun! We use what we have around the house as well as tons of books, music, games, and videos from libraries and resource centers in whatever subject the kids are interested in and I incorporate all the academics into that subject.

My son also plays online games in all subjects. It's been especially great for his reading! The other day he played his reading game for a while and then we read some BOB type early learning books. He read a whole book to me! I am SO proud! He wanted to keep reading, well he wanted me to read after that, so I read until we had gone through the entire set of early learners! I love that we have the freedom to continue as long as we want or stop when the kids are ready to stop in any subject.

We incorporate math into everything, board games, cooking, dividing up snacks, how many buttons are on that jacket, anything and everything! We go about our lives same as anyone else, but I think we discuss more and look at the details. In everything we do, we see it as a learning opportunity and take time to count, find letters and words, measure, talk about the physics of a leaf falling, changes in seasons and weather, etc. The other day we talked about geometry, balance, larger vs smaller when just stacking up boxes for fun! They are learning all the subjects they would in school, but instead of books and paperwork, I try to provide fun, creative ways of hands on learning. Yesterday my son and I made vanilla pudding, (numbers, measuring, reading and following directions), with green food coloring (mixing colors), and then got to dump some onto a tray and trace letters and then just play with it and eat it! So fun and yummy!

Of course sometimes my kids are not in the mood and I don't pester them to think about every detail, but just let them play. But they're being raised to think, analyze, question, engage in, examine their world, and to talk about it, so they are usually more than happy to do so! And they have not learned to separate fun and learning like I think happens with school kids. I know it happened to me and took me years to love learning again!

We also have much more time together as a family. Time to play and get creative, learn what we really love and what inspires us. Learn to cooperate with and appreciate all ages and stages of people in our lives, around us, and all over the world! Learn to work together to have a peaceful home and respect each person for who they are. Have the time to volunteer at nursing homes, enjoy a beautiful day outside, be spontaneous, really live and enjoy life! There are so many things we would otherwise not have time for. Even to just get bored! That's when I really see creativity come out!

I should include that we don't try to get every subject in every day. We have so much time together, we learn all day, all year, weekends, too, not just during school hours, so we can take our time. Some weeks we are very into history, some, we can't get enough science experiments, others, we are all into reading books or art, sometimes we can't stay indoors and away from the woods or beach! Some days we just don't feel like it at all, so we can be mellow and watch too much tv. There are so many days without tv, that I'm not so worried about it. And we normally only watch educational shows, so tv has been a good learning tool.

We go on tons of field trips! Some with just our family or a friend or two. Most with a huge group of other homeschoolers. The field trips we plan are so varied, there are unlimited things my kids can learn. As well as myself! We learn together as a family and each take something different from each place we go and the people we meet. I've posted about some great local field trips before and I will post more when I have time. I think it's wonderful they are learning in real life about how our world works, innumerable careers out there, relating to many types of people and situations, and so much more!

My son has some classes, such as Karate, where he obviously learns karate, but as I mentioned before, they also have great talks about safety, respect, confidence, etc. In Art and Science class he's been painting and learning about natural science by closely observing insects and leaves and incorporating those things into his art. Next month he starts a nature program called Fox Tracks, (you can read all about what he'll be learning here: Actually we'll all be learning as I'll be there to help and will have my daughter there with us as well. He'll also be starting a class a few hours a week at a teacher's home where they'll do some more traditional school stuff like writing letters and numbers, story and share time, some geography, history, and science. We could do these things at home, but he'll have regular time with the same friends each week, and I'll have some special time with my daughter!

We've been taking a Family Spanish class together and have been speaking, playing games online, listening to music, and watching cartoons on YouTube in Spanish. We were going to start an Ancient History class next month, but I think it will be too much after his "school" class on Tuesdays. Though we have the book, so will read it at home and do some fun activities to bring it to life on our own or with friends.

As you know, I've been teaching art classes and my kids sometimes participate, sometimes not. This week I talked about the significance of masks in history throughout native cultures all over the world and showed some examples. My kids listened and then went off to play. They didn't feel like making a mask, which I was happy with as I could focus on my students! Instead, they built forts with some fun construction type blocks and scarves, and a tunnel. Same as last Tuesday, they designed the fort, trying different ways to see what worked best as well as worked together as a team, helped the younger kids, listened to each others suggestions, etc.

They took out other learning games and materials such as small wooden blocks, alphabet letter cards, puzzles, strategy games, math games, a lever and pulley system they rigged up on a shelf... there are endless things to play with/learn there! The kids that stayed for afternoon classes, ate lunch together out of their lunchboxes at a picnic table. Then played some more before Family Spanish Class began. I love when they can just play, uninterrupted, and are figuring things out on their own. They are learning so much without even knowing it! Wow, this got really long! I had better go see what my kids are learning right now! ;) Please leave comments, suggestions, or inspiring thoughts!!


  1. Very enjoyable post, Leah, and I don't even have kids! I think this type of learning, utilizing kids' natural curiosity and creativity in a cooperative rather than competitive way benefits society, now and in the future.

    1. I'm glad you found it enjoyable and I couldn't agree more! Thank you for commenting.

  2. I enjoyed reading it too. An interesting account of what homeschooling looks like. Early childhood providers in Australia strive to teach this way but obviously it becomes more challenging to engage many children the way you an engage just a few.


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