Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to Learning

Not really, these guys learn everyday.  
But we are back to my planning and keeping a journal of our days.  The state of Vermont requires either a portfolio with a parent report for each subject, a certified by the state teacher evaluation, or testing.    It really bothers me how "schoolish" I have to be when this is exactly why our family has chosen to make learning just a part of our daily life. 

We have never been radical unschoolers as I was never able to feel completely comfortable with that, or perhaps because we have seven children, I simply don't have the time to support each child's interests as fully as I would need/want to.     I can't just not make lunch, ignore a 1 year old that needs her diaper changed, leave the spilled milk on the floor... my time is limited and that is probably the only regret I have about having a large family; that I am unable to give each of them as much of myself as I would like.

So each year I consider each child's needs, strengths, weaknesses, and gifts and work to formulate some sort of plan.   Our oldest son was academic oriented from the time he was one - pointing out letters on license plates at 18 months. We were terrible parents back then and let him watch PBS (we got rid of the TV about 7 years later) and he has an amazing brain for memorization which is now a bonus as an actor.   As he progressed through his teen years, he was pretty sure he wanted to go to college so I helped him by planning his courses accordingly.  

We have two children, Isaac (age 15) and Sarah (age 9) that really dislike any kind of formal "school work".  As I have worked to incorporate a waldorf inspired home and education, any kind of traditional learning doesn't even begin until almost age 7.   Sarah learned to read fluently during her 8th year.  Isaac right around the same time.  They both resisted any kind of sit-down phonics work.  So as I work to meet each of their needs, my challenge is to identify their interests and nurture them but I also have to meet the state's needs and if I am really honest, allay some of my own fears by weaving in the main subject areas, such as math, literature, writing, science and social studies.    What I do appreciate about being beholden to the state is that I am paying attention more than I might have.

Isaac is our tech guy.  He actually works on our town library's computers and fixes them when a glitch occurs.   He is also interested in how things work - almost anything and he has a mind that doesn't stop (which can be very had for him at times).    Just on our way today to the library he asked me if a dog had on earphones and only played sound on one side, would it run around in circles?    He satisfies much of his personal learning interests by downloading youtube videos when we go to the library, generally on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.  We have purposefully kept our home wi-fi free and still only have dial-up.  This hasn't stopped Isaac from being able to rattle off nearly every feature of most tech devices and giving his opinion of their worth.  

Here are some of his favorites for any of you with techie children - 


  1. Thanks! I love getting a glimpse in to others homeschooling lives. We are expecting our 5th this winter and I do feel the 'time' thing as well.

  2. one of my biggest regrets is that we did not homeschool. Twenty years ago it was seen as a hippie kind of thing and very difficult to find help on the subject, so off to school my little ones went. We did alot of home school type learning at our house but still I felt they needed more one on one than I could give them. So happy to see that so many families are choosing to homeschool!

  3. A very interesting post, thanks for sharing. The traditional school system is frustrating due to the fact that everyone is treated the same and expected to learn the same things in the same way and if they don't then there is something wrong with them. As you say, all children are different with different interests, needs and ways of learning. You can't teach a fish to fly, but in the water no bird could beat him. Very little homeschooling done in Norway which would leave a child very isolated, sadly. Keep up the good work. Pam

  4. I too, struggle sometimes with satisfying the school district and state, and also teaching to our own desires. We do a lot of sit-down book work, but like you, it helps me keep on the right track. But also like you, I struggle with incorporating a more "hands on" experience and not being so rigid. It is really hard when the school and state are breathing down your neck to make sure that you aren't overlooking anything; yet our homeschooled kids are scoring higher on their state tests than most of the public schooled children... *sigh* I feel your frustration at times.

  5. It's always nice to see how other families are homeschooling, thanks for sharing.

    Also, tell Issac that I'm deaf in my left ear, and it feels like I'm always chasing the sound! We had a hilarious game of Marco Polo at the lake this week, where I looked exactly like the dog running in circles!

    1. Hi Liz,
      I am deaf in my left ear too:) I have otoscelrosis (spelling?) and have only had an operation on my right ear so far.
      Thanks for visiting.