Monday, September 29, 2014

What Works For Us - Part 3

All weekend long I have been wondering what I would share regarding how we homeschool our 7 year old.  Well, to be honest, it is still a constantly evolving process with him. He has a very unique learning style and every day I learn something new about what works and what doesn't.  So rather than bore you with a long list of what we have tried that doesn't work, instead I'll use a photo journal to show what DOES work for him. 

Computers - True to most children his age, he is fascinated by anything electronic.  Computers are used often in our home to enhance the learning process, whether it be through you tube videos, Minecraft or various educational games.
Exploring with interactive "life-sized" touch screens at New England Aquarium.

Legos - We use legos any other building toys to demonstrate educational concepts. B has always been a builder and he really soaks up information when he is able to get hands-on with the lesson.
Exploring landforms and bodies of waters using legos during our Geography Club.

A great discussion on engineering was the result of this tower build at Legoland. 

Lots of hands-on exploration: Building on usage of manipulatives such as legos, we also try to incorporate hands on whenever we can.  Sensory bins are a great way to stimulate the senses and offer opportunities to explore an endless variety of topics.
 Mining for Gemstones. 
Exploring our fall sensory bin.
Imaginative Play: All of our children spend as much time outside playing as possible. I will admit that in our home (and many others I'm sure) we struggle finding a balance between outdoor time/free play and screen-time.  I think its extra important for my 7 year to get outside and away from the screens as he does have trouble at time sticking to limits. 

 After a visit to Fort Ticonderoga he was ready to play Revolutionary War soldier. 

Field Trips: My children love field trips - especially B. We have to balance carefully how much time we actually spend on field trips and try to limit to one or two or month in addition to their regular activities.  Its very easy for us to lose track of our educational goals if we're not at home to work on them. We try to always ask ourselves "will this help meet a goal?" before embarking on a trip.  Too often we've spent so much time outside the house that when we get home we have difficulty getting back on track.  

Visiting the local landfill.

Although clearly we are just goofing here, there were so many educational opportunities during our Disney trip last fall and we took advantage as many as we could.

Book Learning: In case you were curious as to whether we do any book learning, yes we do. I do not believe book learning is necessary for children during the younger years if they are not developmentally ready. That said, I am a huge advocate of teaching children to read as soon as they are able so that they have that extra tool to help themselves learn. Some of my children are ready sooner than others. We've tried a number of different programs to help get him going but for now have settled on Seton phonics along with McGuffey, BOB Books, Faith and Freedom Readers, etc. We also use downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers and other websites to spice things up in our homeschool. Of course we always prefer free, however I know a lot of work goes into making these materials and I don't mind paying for materials when I know its something that we will use again. We really enjoy downloads from The Moffat Girls on TPT, especially their reading program. It really compliments what we are doing already and gives us plenty of hands-on activities. We read aloud in our home using living books as well as the classics, but we don't restrict "twaddle" either.

Using McGuffey's Primer along with videos Easy-Peasy All-In-One.
For math, we use Seton math as our spine and do lots of extra enrichment for him using Hands on Standards materials purchased from Learning Resources.  It was an investment we made years ago for my now 4th grader during his preschool years and these books and manipulatives have already paid for themselves over the course of the years. We started with the preschool aged books and manipulatives and have just added in when we needed to as my oldest progressed through them.

The list of all we do for any of our children is a mile long, but this is generally what is working for us now.  Given how B is constantly keeping us on our toes it wouldn't surprise me if this list was completely different in 6 months. 

So, what works for your unique learner? 

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