Wednesday, September 7, 2016

What happens when you make the world your child's classroom?

In a few posts I've mentioned how I am homeschooling my son for [at least] his Kindergarten year of school. I know that this tends to be a little controversial, as many have their own opinions on how children should be taught. I'll level with you all. I was initially on the opposing side of home school. I didn't judge or criticize others who chose to home school, but I didn't foresee it as something my son and I would be considering, let alone partaking in. Things have obviously changed and I'm here to tell you what happens when you decide to home school your kids, from someone who didn't think it would be enriching enough for young minds. 

To clear up a few things, I'd like to mention now that my son is in a charter homeschooling program. This is a public school that offers a "full home school" option and a "home school mixed with classroom time" option. All of the curriculum and necessary tools come from the school's funding (which you get a voice on what is being used with your child while at home) within a reasonable limit. Meaning you can't go out and purchase 3,000 dollars worth of stuff for your kid's to play learn all day, but you get to choose amazing learning tools to help grow your child's knowledge. For example, we purchased a curriculum based book, a science kit with multiple types of science projects, and books specified for new readers. These are things we will use for him to learn his 5 core subjects in a setting that will provide him with advanced enrichment, at a pace that benefits him. 

We personally are opting out of classroom time for Fall and Winter, but will revisit the idea coming Spring time. The reason being that we are already out and about all day long, three days a week, providing plenty of learning opportunities for my son to learn the necessary standards that are required of Kindergartners. Yes I know the standards and yes I follow them to a delicate specification. I make sure to implement what is expected of him, through living our lives.
Many people may think that having your child learn through the community and daily lives, can be a little bit meaningless. You may think that there is no way they can possibly learn the requirements needed to pass onto the next grade. Well I'm here to tell you that you 100% can. 

To show you how easy it is to help your kids learn in their everyday life, let's pretend that you are going to the Zoo. The common core subjects for Kindergartners are Math, English, Social Studies, Physical Education, and Science. At the Zoo, you can complete a day's learning in all 5 subjects, with no problem. Social Studies: practice good manners, what would happen if they didn't do the respectful thing, how do their actions cause consequences (good and bad). Science: What are 3 different examples for each type of matter in the world? Water from the pond is liquid, the air we breath is gas, the tree is a solid. Physical Education: walking is their PE. Math: You have 4 bears and 2 are babies, so how many adult bears are there? English: How would you spell Bat? What about Cat? How about Hat? Zoo? Sing the Alphabet. Sound out all the words. 

That's one day. One day of a normal life and you've taught your child every single subject asked of them. The best part about homeschooling is the fact that you can give your child an individualized learning that caters to how they learn. You don't have to overwhelm them with every single subject, you can implement a little of each subject, you can bring around a notebook for them to practice their handwriting while you drive, you can play music and songs. The world is FILLED with learning opportunities. 

Today we had our second day of homeschooling. 

We woke up and decided to do math as the day's main subject. We took our day to Balboa Park and ventured into the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Here we were able to learn a little of every subject and add a few homemade worksheets, to add extra math. 

At the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, we learned about the different types of power (solar, wind, thermal, etc.), how to subtract using their "Kid City" grocery store, how important it is to do the right thing, how to properly do jumping jacks to create silly images in the fun mirrors, and how to sound paired letters (oo, th, sh, and more). We even bough a geode to take home and break apart, which taught him about crystallization inside hollow rocks. He absolutely LOVED it. 

I will admit that I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to challenge my son or give him the education he deserves. After we got home, I asked him a few questions and we did a few math worksheets that I made for him. I was shocked on how quickly he's gotten everything. With two days of self learning, my son can read simple words and books, do addition and subtraction, write him letters and all numbers, distinguish the difference between capital and lowercase (still perfecting this one), and he's able to do understand science with a huge increase in curiosity. 

This lifestyle may not be for everyone and perhaps it is beneficial for their kids to go to a traditional school, but personally I couldn't be happier. Especially with the program I am going through. They have "field days" for the families to meet at the park (and school officials), to help kids interact with each other. They have minimal classroom time (2 hours max, twice a week for Kindergarten) so the kids can still get the feel for a traditional school, but without desks. They also have field trips for students to go on - with a parent as well - to get out in the world, with other classmates. More field trips than an average school. 

Overall I've noticed that my son is living a happy, healthy, and knowledge filled life. He's learning as a speed that suits him, he has so many opportunities to make friends (they even have a program so the kids can join sports), and he's surrounded by love. There isn't a single moment where he isn't learning, even if he doesn't know it. 

It can be daunting, time consuming as parent, and frustrating to create a good plan to help teach our kids, but to be completely honest, it's so worth it. I think the most important thing is having a good support system. If you find a program that will help you and see's your child's potential as the number 1 priority, then I think you will find yourself with a very smart and happy child! That's not to say that traditional kids aren't smart - they totally freaking are - but I wouldn't knock homeschooling unless you've tried it! For us, it's the smartest move we've ever made. 

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