Monday, June 2, 2008

Little Girls Learning at Home

Although Willow does attend a fabulous and too-expensive Montessori during the school year, at heart we're a homeschooling family. We believe in the foundational tenets of homeschooling--that education should be fun, engaging, and its own reward; that children should be permitted to follow their own interests to their own ends; that children should spend little time on crowd control, testing, and busywork and more time on creativity, deep concentration, and relevant learning--and put this into practice daily, regardless of whether or not Willow attends an official school that day.

With kiddos this young, we're obviously not reading Greek algebraic textbooks or building our own computers; what I do, instead, is keep a checklist in my head and make sure that every day, the girls create art, play actively, read at least a dozen books, are exposed to music, visit nature, and do some math/science enrichment play. For art, for instance, the girls fingerpaint, paint with brushes, paint with acrylics, color with crayons and markers and pencils, collage, stamp, cut paper, photograph, and I help them with more elaborate projects like creating puzzles, greeting cards, quilts, beaded necklaces, illustrated books, etc.:

Today, for instance, the girls fingerpainted this morning while I hung laundry on the line in the backyard, colored with chalk on the front sidewalk, Sydney painted with a travel set while Willow attended dance class, and Willow colored a letter to a friend while Matt and Syd cooked dinner.

Math/science is usually a trip to the Wonderlab, cooking, block play, counting, a computer game, playing with coins, gardening, or reading. The girls are absolutely in love with the Smithsonian Handbook series. Here are the ones we constantly have checked out from the library:

  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America -- Eastern Region (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Trees (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Butterflies & Moths (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Insects (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Smithsonian Handbooks: Mammals (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Cats (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Horses (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Dogs (Smithsonian Handbooks)

  • Okay, jeez, that's kind of a lot. Today, let's see, the girls played with water toys at the Bryan Park pool, read about a billion books about animals, Willow and I played "silly counting" in the car, and Dinosaur Bingo while Sydney napped. Wednesdays are when we visit the Wonderlab:

    Active play and nature are certainly not a problem, either. Today the girls played outside while I did yardwork, then we walked to the Bryan Park pool (Willow rode her trainer scooter, and the lesson was again reinforced that the path is uphill all the way to the pool and downhill all the way home), walked home, played outside, napped, went to dance class, went to the YMCA, came home and gardened, ate and they fell into bed. Tomorrow will be about the same, with the library in the morning and the pool in the afternoon, and a little dinosaur bathtowel recycling project I'm going to get Willow to help me with.

    Whew, how was your day?

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