A Homeschooling Montage by Hannah Robinson

September 29, 2010

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Today Hannah Robinson joins us for a wonderful post that gives clarity to three of the main homeschooling options available for homeschooling families. If you have any questions, or would like more information, please leave a comment and either Hannah, Heather or Bernadette will do their best to help gather answers.

Just as a forewarning…this is a super long post…so grab some ice cream and sit down for a nice long read!

My daughter is now old enough to “look” like she is old enough for school, and she most definitely communicates on a level that indicates she should be in school, so we often (read: nearly each time) meet with the question of where she will be going to school this fall as we are out and about. The responses I get to the same question again and again from the complete strangers that we meet fit neatly into three categories. The question is always the same. “Are you going to school this year?”. The answer from her (if she deems the stranger safe to talk to…she’s funny that way!) is always “Yes, I’m a homeschool girl”, and from me…”Yes, she’s homeschooled and will be starting kindergarten this year.”

The responses though…oh the responses!!! In the first category are the dear little scared souls who don’t know how to respond and utter a simple “Oh”, though their faces are communicating so much more confusion, judgment, and bewilderment than their verbal answer held. The second response is by far the easiest to hear…it’s the “Oh, my sister homeschools her children and they just love it”, or “Good for you, we homeschool as well”, or “Oh…my next door neighbors boss’s wife’s best friends homeschools…that’s great!”, or various other common-ground finding and reaffirming answers out there. The third is the trickiest. It is given by those who homeschool, those who might like to but haven’t taken the plunge, or those who simply like to learn about the many wonderful ways to live and learn. This third response is simply a string of questions…”how will you do it,” “what curriculum will you use”, “how will you socialize her?”, “so what will homeschooling look like for you?” …and so many many more questions.

The very scary thing is that I don’t know all the answers to all these questions that I find myself presented with on a very regular basis. For a long time this “scary thing” was a slightly paralyzing fear. The planning portion of my brain was struggling with the thought of proceeding down a path that I hadn’t completely figured out yet. It took several intense conversation with my (wonderfully handsome) sensible husband to come to the terms with the (wildly obvious to most…) fact that the journey of homeschooling is just that…a journey. That the beauty, wonder, and magic of this journey will be discovered and unveiled as we go. That the organization and logistics and (slightly boring) record keeping aspects can also be developed, refined, and perfected along the way. That a journey means breathing. Odd that we need to be reminded to do something as inherent as breathing.

For us, at this moment, homeschooling will look like many things. Our methods are not for purists. In fact a purist may balk at the framework I have established for our journey. Our homeschooling will look like Waldorf, it will look like Montessori, it will look like the International Baccalaureate Program, it will look like Classic Homeschooling, it will look like Christian Homeschooling…but most importantly, and most of all it will look like us. A combination of many many wonderful and inspired ideas and philosophies. If there was a phrase that defined my approach to homeschooling methods it would be “…if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” In this way we work to incorporate every good thing regardless of the origin.

Many of you are so far beyond me in comprehension and implementation of these wonderful educational philosophies. Perhaps some of you haven’t heard much of them. For those of the latter group, of which I was a part just two minutes ago (or so it seems!!!), here is a brief explanation of three of the main philosophies that make up our very own personalized Little Robinsons Homeschooling Method.

Waldorf

Most of our day is immersed in the Waldorf philosophies and they will of course play an enormous role in our homeschooling.

Waldorf education is based on the research and works of philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Waldorf ideals for education emphasize an awakened disciplined, creativity, wonder, reverence, and respect for nature and human existence. Waldorf methods have proven to offer a holistic educational model designed to provide the right stimulus at the right time and allow each child’s abilities to fully unfold. The aim of Waldorf schooling is to educate the whole child, head, heart, and hands, to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives.

The curriculum of a Waldorf school, and likewise our own homeschooling will be as broad as time will allow and balances academic subjects with artistic and practical activities. Rich with tied to the earth goodness and the rhythmic seasons and celebrations the magic and wonder that the Waldorf philosophy captures will fill our days and imaginations.

Some Waldorf sites I resource:

Live Education

Waldorf Homeschooling

Christopherus

Earth Schooling

Montessori

Maria Montessori’s inspired works were my first introduction to education beyond public or private religious schooling. Though I am not a Montessori purist, I find great value in her teachings and apply so many of her principles to my parenting and likewise the teaching of my children.

Dr. Maria Montessori’s methods center around her experimental observations of young children given freedom in an environment prepared with materials designed for their self-directed learning activity. It’s aim is to bring about, sustain, and support a child’s natural way of being, having an inner natural guidance for his or her own perfect self-directed development. The role of teacher (sometimes called director, directress, or guide) is to therefore watch over the environment to remove any obstacles that would interfere with this natural development, and to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children’s free use.

One of the points of Montessori’s teaching that I most align myself with is the concept of independence and self-directed learning facilitated by a prepared environment and subtle guidance rather than “teacher”-directed instruction and presentations.

A few Montessori sites to resource:

Montessori Foundation

Living Montessori Now

Montessori Mom

Beautiful Sun Montessori

International Baccalaureate Program

I stumbled across this program one day and was immediately impressed by the rigor and breadth of the academics. While the freedom, creativity, imagination, and self-discovery of the Waldorf and Montessori methods largely drive my personal educational philosophies I also desire my children to to acquire an extensive and “top of the line” academic education.

The International Baccalaureate Program mission statement:

The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end the organization works with schools, governments and international organizations to develop challenging programs of international education and rigorous assessment. These programs encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

The IB program includes a special program for children in the kindergarten to fifth grade years. This Primary Years Program is the framework for the IB curriculum and is driven by concept acquisition and is inquiry based. As most of the air space in our home is filled with “why?” questions all day everyday an inquiry based curriculum seems a perfect pitch. In the traditional PYP students explore mathematics, science and technology, languages, social studies, arts, and personal, social, and physical education. In working out the answers in these areas children build skills such as reading, reasoning, researching, and communicating. The program also promotes positive attitudes and good character emphasizing respect, tolerance, integrity, and confidence, encouraging children to reflect, choose wisely, and act responsibly in the home and community.

So how did we put this all together? Using the PYP program curriculum found here I chose the areas that I wanted to explore over the year. I chose not to use the language program they use at all but will instead use the Montessori reading methods. I sketched out what this curriculum will look like for the year creating a calendar and rough schedule on personalized documents. (I’ll share these tomorrow!) These documents will act as a framework for what I would like to cover for the year. Ah…but within that framework exists the true beauty and magic of self-directed learning, imagination, curiosity, exploration, and discovery. A framework for our months…and freedom within our days.

IB and PYP information for your reading pleasure!:

NYC’s Dwight School

PYP Curriculum Example

It will be a journey. An eclectic mix of the genius of many different philosophers which does not necessarily create a new genius…but rather something unique and just right for us. Which is the just the way homeschooling should be….just right for each little soul in the home.

Hannah Robinson is the mother of two very spirited children, and the wife of a very sensible man, living a very simple life in Western NY. She has a degree in art education and uses it daily as the artist in residence, creativity advocate, and personal tutor for her kidlings. She is the author of the popular blog A Handmade Childhood where she chronicles the adventures of a family life centered on the quest for homemade, creative, tied-to-the earth goodness.

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{ 15 comments }

Bernadette Noll September 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

Beautiful Hannah! This method of mixing ideas is our preferred homeschooling method as well. The beauty of homeschooling is that everyone can find the way that works for them – on any given day! Thanks for the thoughtful post. Through Slow Family Living I am offering a teleclass for those who are pondering the idea of homeschooling. Here’s the link…
http://slowfamilyliving.com/products-page/classes/homeschool-ponderings/

Cortney September 29, 2010 at 11:29 am

I am in that third group, while I would love to homeschool(I talk about it nearly everyday) it’s my husband who is unwilling(at the moment) to homeschool. I talk about all good points and bad points, I send him links to articles and resources and I sort of do the homeschooling thing at home anyway. I supply them with good books, art supplies and help them explore different things that they won’t get at school. I’m just waiting for the day my constant conversation on the topic wears him down and he sits down to actually entertain the idea. Thank you for the wonderful resources!!

Zella January 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

My husband wasn’t having anything to do with homeschooling either until we had a meeting with our sons 3rd grade teacher! I had wanted to homeschool him from the beginning, but dad wanted him to go to school. In 3rd grade I finally WON! He has a March birthday and was ahead in several subject, but the teachers wouldn’t give him harder work and he would endup disturbing the group.

In preschool when the kids were counting to 20, he could count to 150
In K when the kids were counting to 100, he could add and subtract
In first grade when his teacher had ALL 30 kids reading the SAME book at the same time in front of her, he would misbehave.
Being he had older siblings, he knew about this thing called a Dictionary… He knew there was a RIGHT way to spell a word and didn’t want to GUESS!

SO in the 3rd grade I pulled him out and he homeschooled him for 5 years and when I put him back in the 8th grade, he did fine!

Lacey September 29, 2010 at 11:40 am

such a similar story! so glad we’re not the only unpurists, with a completely different list! but we have learned that embracing and sharing our homeschooling decision often ends with the response of ‘I wish I could’, or ‘have you thought about homeschooling other kids?’ (that one took me by surprise!) I think the world is a much less judgmental place with regards to those of us who homeschool now–thanks to all who paved the way!

Melissa Luxmoore September 29, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Loved this post….would love some help if you’re up for it?

My 5yo daughter has been involved with Steiner/Waldorf playgroups since birth and we have recently moved interstate where the schooling choices (I think) are abominable! I wanted to explore the world of homeschooling but I have one VERY big challenge!…..My daughter has a genetic brain condition and this has caused considerable delay in ALL of her abilities…..don’t suppose you know of any blogs or sites where I can go for information on creating the perfect education for kids like mine? With all of the searches I have done, I keep coming up empty-handed.

Susan October 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Melissa, I have a daughter that is developmentally delayed. Even though this is my first year homeschooling, I have a way I go about my daughter that might help you. I don’t hold anything back from her. I let her get involved no matter what. I know that it might open up a interest for her. I don’t set limits for her, I just let her be available just as the rest of my children. Knowing that she was exposed is enough for me. Even if she doesnt grasp it, it was available. Each day has new challenges, but don’t get down about it. You will find your niche! I am so glad I came across these blogs today! Its so nice to know these women are taking time out of their BUSY day to help out someone else. And, that is what its all about. It makes the world go ’round. Good luck to you!

Christina October 2, 2010 at 11:11 am

Wonderful post! I will be checking into the links. We are just officially beginning our homeschooling journey, and the questions, oh the questions! I am finding a bit of a struggle in how I want to go about our homeschooling days, I go back and forth between structure, no structure, some structure. So in these early days we are just sort of winging it, and on days were it seems we haven’t accomplished much I get frustrated because I’ve put the pressure on myself thinking I am supposed to be teaching “x,y,z”. Even though I know ultimately it’s Okay to not do sit down work every day. But it’s still a battle in my head the way I want it to be, the way it is and the way I am feeling pressured to do it ( not by anyone in particular just pressure in general, I’ve put on myself, the back and forth pressure of what I want to do and what we should do because it works for us. I hope this made some sense ;) I feel better knowing I am not the only one who just feel the pull to homeschool in one particular way, so thank you!

Susan October 4, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Wow, I just happened to stumble upon this website and your post in my quest for homeschooling information and I just had to tell you how informative I found your post to be. I myself have an early childhood teaching degree and have decided to stay home with my girls and have been dabbling in these philosophies to see what they most respond to. I’m a big believer in learning styles and doing a hybrid approach like you. I will definintely be checking out these links and will be referring back to your post for inspiration! Thank you!

Rai October 6, 2010 at 8:05 am

Thank you so much for sharing this. We’re just trying to gather up the courage to remove our daughter from JK, and jump into the homeschooling journey. Needless to say, I’m both exhilerated + terrified, and hearing others tell their story is comforting + encouraging. Like-minded families do exist out there somewhere!

Wanted to share another resource that might be interesting for you: http://thewaldorfconnection.com/

Just in case you haven’t stumbled across it yet.

Best of luck in your adventure!

Rai

. tiny twist creative . October 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

This is so great. Thank you so much for all the resources. I personally love the waldorf philosophies. I’ve read a little on montessori and know nothing about IB. Sounds like you’ve created what is just perfect for your sweet family. What a great mama you are.

julie October 12, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I appreciate the summary of different educational methods and it sounds like you and your daughter are off on an amazing journey. What thoughtful care you have put into this!

I think there may be a hugely important omission though — one which a lot of progressive parents have been getting excited about of late: Radical Unschooling.

It sounds like a lot of how you’re thinking about things could lead you toward radical unschooling. This is not something I think I’ll be able to do because of our economic circumstances, but the more I read about it, the more I feel like it’s absolutely amazing.

Best!
Julie

Marlis October 18, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I attended a Waldorf School from 3rd through 8th grade. While this is, in my opinion, a wonderful way to educate young children I feel that is it simply not at par with more traditional schools in the science subjects after a certain point. I was crossed over out of necessity into a non-Waldorf school after 8th grade and it was a nightmare which affected the rest of my academic as well as professional life. That being said, I am homeschooling my son in somewhat of a Waldorf like way. He is 5 years old. My daughter is educated in a more traditional way with a touch of Waldorf thrown in here and there. She is 10. Your article was well written and should anyone ever ask me about Waldorf I’ll be sure to send them the link to your article.

Rebecca January 6, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Even before I had children I knew I wanted to homeschool. I never finished college, nor was I satisfied with the schooling I had received. (Has anyone escaped middle school without some serious emotional scarring?)But I did feel, deep in my inner being, that I wanted something better for my children. In my prayerful searching over the years (my eldest is just six) I have been led from one method/book/philosophy to another taking from each experience what was good and leaving what didn’t work for our family. And so we evolved until one day, meeting a friend of a friend, I was introduced to the Thomas Jefferson Education method (TJed). This rang true for me! This is what I had been searching for. I felt that my journey had been leading me here all the time.
My point is never give up. Taste and choose — there’s a wonderful buffet of opportunity out there! Trust your instincts. Because like a portrait, even within the same philosophy or method, each family will operate a little differently.

Ginger February 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Hi Hannah,
I have been enjoying reading through some of your blog this evening during my unwind time. I discovered your 12th article of faith in this article on homeschooling. Are you LDS? I am. Anyways, I am a mother of two kids (ages 6 and 4). I want to start homeschooling my child for first grade. She now attends school in puplic school kindergarten. I feel very overwhelmed as to which cirriculum choice to make. Knowing me, I am likely to spend too much time thinking about his and researching it. Therefore, I am seeking some wisdome from those that know more about homeschooling than me. I should tell you that I don’t know how long I will be able to homeschool. This will be a year by year decision. I don’t want to put a lot of money into cirriculum. I will gladly spend a few 100 dollars, but don’t know if there is a way to keep it under 300 bucks. I think I want some type of cirriculum for the core, basic, necessities. By that, I mean Language Arts, reading, math type stuff. I can do science, social studies, physical education, art, so forth on my own. I don’t know wether or not I want unit study or just hard core plain academics, so forth and so on. I need the pages to be a big colorful or interesting to hold my daughters attention. I am up for doing activities and not just worksheets. But, I would like to be quick to get it done fast for busy days. I like the idea of just kind of getting it done and over with. This way, I can bake bread with her, cook with her, do hands on science and art projects, ride bikes, go to exracirricular activities, do supplemental cool hands on creative learning ideas that I find on websites, so forth. But, on the flip side, another part of me wants this creative, great, interesting waldorf or montesorri type cirriculum (or anything great that I am not aware of). I am guessing my child is a visual learner, but I am not sure. She LOVES books. I like the idea of just being able to study whatever she is intersted in at the moment or just what I know she likes in general, but then I hear all this great stuff about unit studies. That may not allow me flexibility but at the same time it seems appealing. I think I might lean towards loving Waldorf, but I am not highly knowledgeable. I just do a lot of blog surfing over past years. I haven’t truly studied philosophies. I’m just an “earthy wanna be type.” I would like a strong academic base b/c my daughter may have to go back to public school. This all depends on my sanity while homeshooling, if I can manage working 2 to 3 days a week (when I do go back to work) plus homeschooling at the same time. Maybe I should just keep it cheap and simple during my first year of testing this out. Doing things like “Math U can See” and things like this? Do you have any advice or cirriculum guidance for me? My email is: gingercarraher@yahoo.com
I plan to surf your blog some more. Looks great.
Thanks, Ginger

Ginger February 16, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Hannah,
Sorry, me again. Here are some recommendations I have been given in the past. If you have any advice for me based on my other email I sent you.
I don’t know how familiar you are with any of these. I know you just have this great blog and that doesn’t necessarily make you a cirriculum consultant.
Anyways, here it goes:
Phonics Pathways
Sing, Spell, Read, and Write
Math U See
Abeka
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
Konos (unit study)
Five in a Row
Horizons (math)
Well Trained Mind
They did mention some history type stuff as well, but I am likely not to get that unless it is cheap.
Sonlight is good for those that like to read, but I hear it is pricey and too much material.

I guess I should just go to one of those conferences where I can look at all this first hand. I still like people’s input, if they have any.
Thanks,
Ginger

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