Wednesday, January 28, 2009

School at Home!!??!!

In November we decided to homeschool our oldest child, who is almost nine and in third grade. It has been quite a process, but well worth it! We are really having a great time educating our child together. Our youngest is in her last year of preschool. She still attends private preschool three days each week. On the days she is home, she has the option of independent play or attending class with us. She also does science experiments when it's Daddy's turn to teach!

The first step was deciding what curriculum to use. We had (have) so many options!
In order to be a legitimate home school, you must have a curriculum which teaches reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, and you must pursue that curriculum in a bona fide (not a sham) manner.
In the end, we decided to purchase a math curriculum that I was familiar with from my public school days. The other content areas would be covered using various sources and activities. We are also touching on Spanish, handwriting (cursive!), science and social studies, and fine arts. I am following the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) as a guideline for what my kiddo should know/learn by the end of third grade. It requires a lot of brain work and creativity on my part, but I have having a great time! I feel like I am using my brain more than I have for a long time! And, I'm getting to use the degree that I worked so hard for!

The next step was setting up a classroom or teaching space. A lot of people use their kitchen table. That is not an option for us, particularly since I like to have things organized and set up...and not in my kitchen! Our "formal" living area is our blank slate, and originally that was our classroom area. But it is at the front of the house, open to the rest of the world, and we needed more seclusion. It is hard to focus when your five year old sister is running around playing. And I kept having to pack things up if we had company over so that little kids weren't messing around with our stuff. We decided to transform our office into an official classroom. Everybody has their own space, and we can hang things on the wall and really feel like we're in a classroom environment. If we have company coming over, we shut the doors and nobody goes in.

So far, my favorite part of homeschooling is the flexibility. When my husband is home, we can take a day off. Sometimes we have school on Saturday to make up for those days. It is just really nice. We are serious about homeschooling. I know she is learning and growing. But we are also together, we are focusing on her needs and interests, and enjoying each other.