Wednesday, December 15, 2010

teachable moments: baby steps into homeschooling

(Go figure. I began thinking about and typing this blog post while the kids were napping on December 13 and of course Levi woke up from his nap about four seconds into typing. And he apparently is completely uninterested in entertaining himself sitting on the couch next to me. Avid sitter that he is, he can't seem to manage sitting on the couch for more than a few seconds before he tips over and threatens to roll onto the floor. So alas, this post will have to wait for now.)

Ok, let's try this again...

Aaron and I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling Camille, or at least giving it a shot to see how it goes. And as I was looking online at preschool curriculum I've read quite a bit of advice to completely skip preschool curriculum. After all, the best way little kids learn is through play and by watching and practicing themselves.

So as of late I've been very intentional about taking advantage of teachable moments with Camille. And I've discovered that there are literally hundreds of teachable moments in any given day.

I should start by saying that one thing that makes these teachable moments easier is that Camille's verbal communication is pretty advanced for her age. Since she was very small we've always talked to her and encouraged her to talk and to learn new words. We have always explained what words mean and pointed out descriptive words when we were talking about something.

Anyway, so I've been looking out for teachable moments and am finding that it comes so naturally to me. Many of these moments happen in the car, where she has no option but to sit still. Camille likes to point out things she sees as we're driving around. Because of this we've had conversations about emergency vehicles, the difference between sunrise and sunset, why it rains in the summer and snows in the winter, left and right, and why we saw a Christmas tree on someone's car, among many others.

When Camille is coloring we talk about shapes and how many sides they have. We count the shapes, we color them. When she is painting we talk about mixing colors.

When we have blocks out we count how many we can stack. Sometimes I make patterns for her on the floor and ask her to continue the pattern.

We sort mini pom-poms by color or size. She makes designs with small round pegs in a pegboard, which is great for small motor skills.

We sing songs about everything: Jesus, colors, the days of the week, ABC's and tons of others.

We play the letter sound game. Together we come up with as many words as we can that begin with the sound of any given letter. For example I tell her we're going to think of words that start with the ssss sound. Usually it's just me coming up with words, but occasionally she'll think of her own. Often she comes up with a words that begins with a different sound. And that's ok!

And one thing we do as much is possible is read books. She is one lucky little girl to be living in a house with four adults who are always wiling to read to her. Some days she could sit for hours upon hours listening to us read to her. Other days she's less interested. Many of her books are ones that were mine when I was young, and it is so much fun watching her enjoy them like I did.

So I think that this is our "preschool" plan. We will continue to take advantage of teachable moments, and we will continue to let her do what kids do best - play! Eventually we may add in some workbook time where she can practice writing letters and numbers, but not until she is interested in that.

It's an exciting concept - to think that we get to decide what and how our kids learn things; to think that they can learn at their own paces. I'm excited to give this a try. And I'm looking forward to watching my kids faces light up when they learn something new!

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susanlemons said...

This sounds like a very balanced plan! We also emphasized reading aloud and learning through real life/play while our children were young. My philosophy is based on the 4R's: Relationship, routine, readiness, and reading aloud.
I have lots of articles, book lists, and links about homeschooling/homepreschooling that might be an encouragement to you--you can find them at . I hope you'll visit me there!
God bless you in your homeschool journey!
Susan Lemons
Homeschooling mom of 4
Author, Homepreschool and Beyond