Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Hippie Method (aka-how we home school)

Have I mentioned that Meres seems finally to be over her hunger strike? She is eating oatmeal in the morning, a snack of some sort in the afternoons, and then some of our dinner each day. She is even eating applesauce the past few days-which she had flat out refused many times before. She is great at the whole gag-shudder thing. She will nurse for nourishment in the morning, but the rest of the time it seems like she is nursing out of habit or for comfort. She drinks from a cup. And I am feeling relieved.
Well, Tuesday I started a two part series about how I conversationally sell myself short. You can find part one here. This is the exciting, much anticipated "home school" version.=)
Here is how this conversation typically goes...
Other person (op): "So, you home school? How is it going this year?"
Me: "Great. We are having an awesome year."
OP: "That's good. What curriculum do you use?"
(here is where it all goes downhill)
Me: "Well, we use BJU. Well, actually, we use BJU for some things. But not reading. I think it is ridiculous to pay for a reading program when there are so many other books out there. And, we don't use it for science or history or geography either. I am just doing my own thing for history. And I got a science experiment book for B&N. I guess we only do BJU for math, grammar and spelling. And handwriting for K-2. Btw, did I mention we only do school four days a week?"

The poor person I am talking to probably feels ready to call the truant officer on me by the time I get to this point. All I've done is point out what I don't do, not what we DO. And no matter how much back tracking I do from this point in the conversation, it just comes off as excuses and a slapped together system. It sounds like I am too cheap to pay for books, and my kid's education is suffering as a result.
In actuality, it's anything BUT slapped together.

Have you heard of the Charlotte Mason Method? I have. I don't know what it is, but I've heard there is one.=)
Well, for homeschooling, I have the Hippie Method. It is based on my years of being home schooled, my years home schooling sibs and my own children, and my own interests. It works for me, it has been a work in progress, and my kids are actually getting schooled. No matter how I present it.=) Here are some of my schooling philosophies.
-For kindergarten I emphasize learning to read. I use workbooks (Kumon mostly) from the bookstores. We start with the alphabet, and learning to write letters, then move on to simple word families. After Christmas we start reading through Dick and Jane, and old reading texts. These stories are simple, and give the kids confidence that they CAN read. This method has worked well for both my boys, who have very different learning styles. Next year it is LC's turn. We also learn numbers-through writing and dot to dots, and we then begin simple addition and subtraction. I have found that when I start the formal curriculum in First grade, my kids are right on track. We also do lots of motor skill development-cutting, pasting, coloring, and puzzles.
-I emphasize reading. If someone can read, there isn't anything they can't learn. We do this by having BMV read to the others for half an hour every morning. They are working through classics, as well as old bios and history books. Each boy then reads later in the day for an additional half hour. On top of this, we visit the library each week and get other books. Freckles has been checking out and reading books on the Special Forces. BMV has been getting books on the Olympics. Also they both do Bible study lessons, where they read sizable passages of Scripture, and have to answer questions. This improves reading comprehension.
-We do "book" school four days a week, and focus on electives on Friday. We do five days of work in four. It has worked well for us. The electives are more exciting, giving the school week a fun finish.
-The boys have daily writing projects. They write letters, subject reports and book reports, and journal entries. I am going to incorporate more poetry next year. BMV had a blog for over a year. He is taking a break, but one of these days it will get revived.
-We do science experiments. At this younger age, I've found hands on is more appropriate. We are working through a book I picked up at B&N. We do our experiments, and then they each have to write what we used, what we did, what happened, and what we learned. As they get to jr. and sr. high, I will incorporate more science text book learning.
-I use a handwriting curriculum with them through the learning of cursive. Then they are required to write their work neatly in cursive. Or I make them write even more.
-I will always use formal math books. It is just easier to work through, and then you know they are learning what they need to.
-I have tried teaching piano and art. We also sing and learn new songs together. Next year I am thinking about signing BMV up for piano lessons. He is doing well enough, but formal lessons would spur us both on. Freckles has a good sense of timing, but he doesn't want to practice. I want him to get the basics. After that, if he still isn't overly interested, we'll let it go. Mr. Hippie is great at art. We are working at getting him more involved in this. I did paint with the kids a few times this year, and we did sculpture. But, I need to learn as much, if not more, than them.
-I try to link studies with current events. Each fall GR has an Art festival/competition. We visit the exhibits several times each year. Last fall I also organized a home school art day to tie in with the festival. It allowed the kids to experience some of the skills the artists used to create their entries. Also, this year is the olympics, so we have been doing some research into the history, etc. of that. It is also an election year. We have been studying the presidents, making a time line, and in the fall we will study the election process. For our president studies we have a book with all of the presidents listed. We also get other books from the library to fill in the gaps. We are visiting DC this summer, which will tie in great with our presidential studies.
-Geography is another more "loosey-goosey" subject that really isn't. We have old Highlight's Magazine books that we are working through for each country. Then we check out more books to learn the history. We draw a timeline. We make an ethnic dinner. We write to missionaries in the country. We are compiling a notebook of each country we are studying. Again, it isn't a formal curriculum, but we are still learning a lot. And we will be able to follow this study track for a long time.
-My first love is history. It always has been. I have expanded on this before. It's my "connecting the dots" philosophy of teaching. I am in the middle of planning out our history syllabus for the next 8 or so years. My vision is to do unit studies. I am looking at spending a year each on the 1700s-(US emphasis), the Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Ancient world-including Egypt, Greek/Roman-up to 500 AD, the Dark Ages, and the Tudor Period. I want to look at things on the world stage, and focus in on particulars. I want to study mythology, art, and people of these periods. I want to read literature about, and from, these periods. I want to make timelines. Mr. Hippie and I are brainstorming together, and I think it is going to be great. I realize that it is going to require a lot of work and discipline, but it is how I love to learn and teach. And I am very excited about it. I also realize that most people have no desire to make up their own curriculum, but I am weird. I know.=)

Anyway, this is the Hippie Method. =) It works for the Hippie household. And, writing it down like this makes it seem more concrete. Less of a "hope to" and more of a "this is what we are doing." If you are one of those people that I have shared all my "nots" with, I hope you are encouraged that my kids aren't actually going to grow up completely uneducated. I am not unstructured or fly by night. I am a planner. A goal setter. Maybe I'll do another blog installment of our History unit studies, once I get it more fleshed out.
I am not trying to give the impression that this is what everyone should do. Each family needs to figure out what works for them. This is what we do.
And, now you know that-if you didn't already.=)