Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Trying to follow standards certainly makes more sense in a classroom setting, but in a homeschool, really its all about the family. The family is kind of the whole point for us. I love when siblings and groups of mixed age kids get excited about some topic and go off on a self directed learning spree with it. My kids have loved the 39 Clues books, and have been led in a number of directions researching people and places in the world that weren't on the standards for either of their grades. They pulled out maps, books, got on the internet, and even made food inspired by what they read about. They were excited and motivated, they were having fun, and they remember what they learned. In my opinion, that constitutes a real education more than forcing facts in a textbook that has no current relevance to their real lives or interests.
Percy Jackson series led to a study of Greek mythology that neither of them was slated to learn for years, and The Alchemyst led them to reading about all sorts of different cultures and times. They never really thought about whether they were doing something for school or for life. They were just interested and learning- and to me, that is homeschooling at its' best.
The cashier at the bookstore sometimes looks at me sideways when using my educator discount card to buy a book she doesn't deem educational. "This is for use in the classroom?" Well, since the world is our classroom, I can honestly answer yes to that, but she still seems to be puzzled that there are no textbooks in my stack.
This year, since we chose to homeschool through a charter school, we're having another look at the standards. I know that the schools' funding and the families' freedom of curriculum is tied to the students doing well on the standards based tests, so we'll do our best to cover the material in a way that works for our family. There are actually a number of things that look interesting and a number of others that look pointless. There is quite a bit of repetition year after year, in some cases with the exact same wording listed multiple years in a row. The one thing we won't do is change our life learning style and try to force our kids into a one size fits all mold. We'll still follow our interests and learn together in real life ways, because for us, that's what it's all about. Worksheets will never take precedence over real life learning, no matter what the standards call for.
I'm always interested in hearing how other families make it work. What do you think about the standards? Do you use them at all? If so, how do you keep it fun?