Friday, April 23, 2010

Hands On Learning

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about homeschooling. There are so many different methods that it can be overwhelming. If you factor in some second guessing, it can leave you paralyzed. Fortunately, I am fairly self-confident and have a network of terrific homeschooling families.

We are do-ers or unschoolers, although I dislike that term because it sounds like we don't do anything. My kids love hands-on learning and exploring. I sometimes supplement with worksheets because Maeve enjoys filling things out (just like me) and I like to give Finn the chance to practice writing and holding a pencil. I follow my kids' lead. We have books everywhere, I show them interesting things and we do organized learning when the kids seem to need more structure.

We could have spent Earth Day just talking about the planet, recycling, etc., but instead went outside and collected trash. The kids had fun wearing rubber gloves and finding trash. We talked about the importance of keeping our neighborhood clean and putting trash where it belongs. We already have a compost bin and recycle as much as we can.

We learn about plants by planting a garden. The kids are part of the process from the very beginning when we order seeds and figure out what we want to plant. They help start the seedlings, water the plants, pull the weeds and plant the garden. We talk about cool weather plants and plants that enjoy the warmth of summer. We found a toad in the garden while planting, looked stuff up about toads and then decided to make a toad village in an attempt to attract more toads to our garden.

My kids can solve simple story problems and often quiz each other. Maeve decided two nights ago that she wanted to learn how to use the oven, stove and microwave so today she made muffins. I explained how to turn on the oven and what buttons to push on the microwave. We talked about the importance of adding the right amount of flour and why lard is better than vegetable oil. Finn added some ingredients and we all got to taste the final product.

Learning happens everywhere. It's our way of life. If I don't know the answer to something, I look it up and we figure it out together. Yesterday Finn asked if Secret Bear (one of the Care Bears) is a girl or a boy. I said I thought a boy and Finn said "Let me go check the computer." Maeve also consulted her "computer" to find the answer. I love it. I love that they don't take my word for it and figure it out themselves.

I am excited to be on this journey.

I love learning with the kids and experiencing the excitement of life with them.

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