Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life is Learning

        I just got Paul and Gena Saurez' new book, Homeschooling Methods, in the mail to review. I've only had time to scan the titles of the chapters that cover different methods of homeschooling, but I'm really looking forward to delving in. My children are not yet "school" age but I'm already giving a lot of thought to how I want to teach them and what sort of style we as a family may have. From observing other homeschooling families and the reading I've done so far I feel like I'm drawn to what seem to be two different ends of the spectrum- the Classical Approach and Unschooling. Maybe that shows that I'm a bit wacky at heart, but I'm really hoping that we can blend the two into something that works. I want to give my children a love of learning and the tools they'll need and then let them explore the things they're interested in. Of course I realize there are things they'll have to learn whether or not they're interested, and that they will have unique learning styles but I hope that we can keep it fresh and exciting. In Gena's book Unschooling is alternately called Delight Directed Studies. I like that!
        Peregrine loves to cook with me and this morning we made an omelette for breakfast. He knows his letters really well but has been having a hard time recognizing numbers so I took a marker and wrote numbers one through six on the eggs. Then I would ask him to get out the egg with a specific number on it and he would then get to crack it for me. He loved it and was learning at the same time. It's easy at his age - three - to keep learning simple and incorporate it into the things we're doing. I know it will get more challenging but I hope we can always infuse our activities and play with learning. (Or at least infuse our learning with activities and play.)
        There's even a chapter in Gena's book called Carschooling! Given mine and Erik's love for traveling I think we may have to throw this one in our mix as well. I'm thinking something like a year on the road traveling all over the country, visiting friends and national parks and strange little towns and historical sights along the way. I have great memories of traveling with my family- Mom and Dad and the five of us all piled into the brown station wagon with all our luggage wrapped up in a blue tarp on top. (By luggage I mean Italian luggage. Also known as cardboard boxes.) We would drive out to B.C to visit friends, then down to California and Mexico to see my Dad's family. Of course there was plenty of sibling rivalry (to put it nicely), but we had a lot of fun stopping to see things, playing games and reading aloud along the way. (Then there are the not-so-great memories, like my brother tormenting me for endless miles and all having to sleep in the back of the station wagon when we ran out of gas in the middle of an Indian Reservation one cold spring night.) After we've seen America, maybe we'll coin a new homeschooling method called Airschooling and travel the world together. That would really make our history and geography lessons come alive. (This will have to be after we become independently wealthy of course, from all the cottage industries that I will be so successful at. Ha!)
        So maybe I'll really be what they call an Eclectic Homeschooler. Then again, Charlotte Mason just sounds like such a gentle and peaceful name and who wouldn't want their child to be a Whole-Hearted Learner? Unit Studies always sound like fun when I hear people talking about them. Of course I don't know exactly what any of these methods are because I haven't read the book. Yet. But I'm sure it will inspire me and get me thinking and dreaming even more.
        We may never really settle on a particular method but I have no doubts that my kids will learn, and that they'll even have some fun along the way. Someday they'll have stories to tell about what a crazy family they grew up in, all the places their parents dragged them to and the embarrassing things they did. They'll learn reading, writing and arithmetic, and if they're lucky they may even find themselves sleeping in the back of the van in the middle of Arizona some cold spring night.

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