The homeschooling community is full of labels. There are many bloggers who have broken down the variety of homeschool styles but AtoZHomeschooling has a really great outline here that I usually refer people to. A to Z is the first homeschooling website I think I checked out almost 8 years ago and one I continue to refer back to... the website has been around as along as "mainstream" internet.
So what label do we fall under? I wish I could say "all of the above" because that would be an easy answer to a complicated question, but really there is no answer to this question. However, I would say that the category that best fits us is "eclectic". Basically what that means for us is that although it isn't the most "convenient" method that we've tailored our days to best meet the individual needs of each child. One child is a very independent learner and works with very structured materials, and another we take a more hands-off approach as we navigate the waters to discover which way works best for him. The third seems to be a combination of the two. Her emotional needs require hand holding but she prefers the book work over hands on learning. We've gone through a variety of curricula over the years and what works one year might not be what we choose the following year based on what's happening in our family at the time and who needs what.
|The boys working together using Tieramid blocks.|
We began using Seton Home Study materials last year and this year we continue to include those in our curriculum with all three of our children along with other supplemental materials. I love how Catholicism is beautifully woven in through the materials. The books are jam packed with beautiful artwork and their traditional nature makes them pretty easy for both parent and student to teach or complete. In the elementary years although the lesson plans are somewhat useful to get started, it is not that difficult going without them. Last year we were fully enrolled with lesson plans, this year we are choosing to go without the lesson plans. This allows us more flexibility with our curriculum choices and gives us more time to explore other interests. I will discuss the individual materials we plan to use in later blog posts.
As a family we are doing the following activities together:
Geography Club: A friend and I (Martianne from Training Happy Hearts) are hosting a geography club in my home each month. We are so excited to get started on this and plan to study a different continent/world region each month.
Science Classes: Science is a weak area for me so the kids are signed up for a variety of science classes within our homeschool groups and local natural history museum. They love science and I love that we're able to provide this for them. After we take a class we take that information and explore the topics more deeply at home.
|Searching for micro-organisms during Nature Explorers science co-op|
DIY.org: We'll be earning badges with a local DIY.org club. This I am super excited about as we are not a scouting family.
Faith Formation - my kids are enrolled in Religious Ed through our local parish where I also am a catechist this year. There is only so much that can be covered one hour a week so we do a lot of supplementing at home. I use the Saints Daily Planner* by Tan publishing. Although I am not a fan of the horizontal weekly format I found that after an extensive search that I wanted to continue on with this planner. It has reminders for feast days, holy days, reminds me to abstain from meat on Fridays, and is a great conversation starter. We will be following the liturgical calendar closely and celebrating either at home or with our local homeschool group.
|Our family at the baptism of our youngest two. Although they were enrolled in religious education at our parish, a great deal of preparation went on in our home to prepare them for this special day. We were blessed to have my brother be able to baptize them.|
Lots of outdoor time: I firmly believe that children should be outside as much as they can, and if we can replace formal learning with outdoor time, we absolutely do! We do have some sensory issues here so are unable to get out as much as we'd like, but we try to find opportunities to explore whenever we can.
Trips! We always have time for a field trip. My husband also likes to
be included on these when he can because it really allows him to get his
hand in the homeschooling process. Last year we visited a fire station, a recycling plant, aquariums, museums, historical landmarks - the list goes on and on.
|B searching for crabs during a "Not Back To School Beach Day"|
|The kids checking out marine skeletons at the aquarium. It pays to go later in the day.|
In Part 2 of this series I'll be sharing what materials we are using with my 4th grader and my preliminary thoughts on them.
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