Homeschooling Got You Down?
Are you frustrated trying to teach school in a traditional way at home? Do your students have difficulty focusing and sitting still? Do you dread school time? Very early on I also became frustrated with homeschooling. I wanted homeschooling to be fun. I wanted to enjoy it. I didn’t want it to be another thing like room-cleaning and teeth-brushing that I had to nag and force my child to do. This seemed wrong and antithetical to the whole idea of spending quality time together.
In addition, my son had some extra issues. He was not the type of 5-year-old who would sit at the table for 15 or 20 (or 5!) minutes at a time and print his abc’s or write his numbers or even color a picture. Nor did he have any interest (or ability) in learning to read any time soon. (He finally began reading at 8 and writing at 10 – it turns out he was/is highly dyslexic). And all the time in the background homeschool gurus insist that literacy is primary and absolutely essential in these early years – everything depends upon it, they say.
On top of it all I was convalescing from a ten-year illness and teaching art history to 60 students per week so I didn’t have a lot of time to spend preparing creative lesson plans. So I was faced with a choice. We could fight our way through the early years with traditional curriculum and hope for a modicum of success (and hope our relationship survived it) or I could throw it all out the window and try something new.
So with much enthusiasm and a startling dose of fear I asked myself two questions: What did my son enjoy? And what was easy and enjoyable for me? The answer was books. Real books, not the dry, unimaginative textbooks that come with sets of curriculum, but fun books from the library or bookstore that were written to engage, inspire and entertain children. Though he wouldn’t sit for workbooks, coloring books or sometimes even meals, my son would sit and listen to me read 5 or 6 books in a row. So this is where I began.
Over the next few years I scoured the library and Amazon for kids’ books that are both entertaining and educational, and what I found amazed me. I now have hundreds of fun books on science, history, literature, grammar and math (yes, math!). For the next four years (K-3rd) my son’s education consisted mainly of reading books. Every day we would pull a science, history, literature, grammar and math book off the shelf and go sit down and I would read them to him. It felt like cheating. It felt wrong, but ultimately it felt great. We totally enjoyed it and we both looked forward to it. (Yes, we did occasionally do some math and attempted reading, but it was sporadic. It was the exception, not the rule.)
The big question is, of course, did it work? And with a heavy sigh of relief I can say yes, it did. Today he is in 9th grade at Julian and fits in just fine. He even gets high test scores and straight A’s in his classes. I don’t say this to brag, but to let you know that homeschooling can be done a differently. It can be enjoyable and academic and easy.
I have compiled a list of books (about 50 pages worth!) that I used and that I highly recommend and that I would like to share with you. I will explain more in depth about what I did in K-3rd and 4th-8th grade, introduce a plethora of books and answer any questions you might have. I look forward to seeing you there.
“Homeschooling with Real Books”
February 5, 2013
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Julian Charter School
San Diego Learning Center
6112 Lorca Drive
San Diego, CA 92115