3 Things I’ve Learned About Homeschooling in 2013

things ive learned about homeschooling

One of my favourite things about homeschooling is the never-ending learning opportunities it offers me. Not only do I get to facilitate and witness my children’s learning, but every year I get to learn how to be a better homeschooler.

Since love of learning is  – according to the Authentic Happiness Centre’s VIA Signature Strengths Questionnaire – my greatest strength, this means I get to live a pretty charmed life!

Here, in no particular order, are three of the many things I’ve learned about homeschooling this year.

1. You don’t need a curriculum to learn maths

I have friends for whose families maths curricula work wonderfully, and I’m delighted for them. But although everyone in our family likes maths, we’ve never got on with a maths curriculum. Back in April we gave up trying to find one, and began a living maths experiment.

We love being able to choose which maths topic we learn about when, and what resources to use. I am more in tune with my children’s needs and abilities than any curriculum could be, so as well as being more enjoyable, learning maths this way makes much more efficient use of our time.

C(10) and J(8) benefit from one-to-one attention learning maths this way. With any curriculum there is the temptation to leave a child to get on with the set number of pages while you get on with something else. My long-term goal is for my kids to be independent learners, but the best way for that to happen is for me to be by their side now, enjoying puzzles and stories, asking good questions and modelling creative problem-solving strategies.

ive learned homeschooling

A few of our maths playtime activities

We’ve recently looked at some of the maths test papers English schoolchildren sit in Year 6 (Grade 5). Sitting comfortably at my side, my kids approach the test questions as fun puzzles. Even if they haven’t come across a topic before, they don’t panic – they try to figure out a way round. (And I make a note to explore the topic together another time.) Homeschoolers don’t have to take these tests, but I find it reassuring that C(10) and J(8) would have no problem passing if they did – no curriculum required.

2. My children learn a lot from videos

When my kids want to find out how to do something, the first place they go is YouTube.

In the last few weeks, C(10) has prepared illustrated essays on fossils and the history of skateboarding using YouTube as one of her primary research sources. She also teaches herself drawing, sewing and cooking techniques, and guitar chords from videos.

Things ive learned homeschooling

Recent projects C(10) has chosen to do

At the moment, J(8) mostly uses YouTube to solve specific problems in his computer games, but that doesn’t make the critical thinking and writing skills he’s acquiring during the course of his research any less valuable.

For some reason it took me a while to catch onto this trend and use videos in the learning we do together. I guess it’s another layer of my deschooling (“learning must come from books”), combined with having grown up in a different technological era.

I can’t skim videos the way I can books or web pages, so it can take a bit longer to pull together strewing material. But as more of us use video in our homeschools, the more links to good quality material are being shared, which makes the task easier. (I love the way Hwee, for example, includes videos in most of her blog posts.)

Next year I intend to use video much more in our homeschool. {Perhaps my children will give me some tips on where to look.}

3. You can do less than you think in a year, and more than you think in three years

Sometimes when I look back on a school year, it feels like we haven’t accomplished much. Yet when I look back on the three and a half years since we began homeschooling, it’s obvious my children have learned heaps.

Similarly to the way they get taller when we’re not looking, children seem to learn in spurts rather than in one continuous steady flow. Or perhaps learning is more like the movement of waves in the ocean – always happening, but only visible at certain points in the cycle.

The more of these learning cycles I witness, the easier I find to stay relaxed during periods when not much seems to be happening.

J(8), for instance, does a little copywork or handwriting practice most days, but until recently had never written more than a few comic strips of original writing. Then last month he sat down at the computer and wrote a 1,500 story for NaNoWriMo. A story filled with the rich vocabulary he had apparently acquired over the previous two thousand hours he’d spent lounging around wearing headphones listening to audiobooks.

Talking of audiobooks, I used to wonder how J(8) would ever learn to spell, without seeing actual words in books. Then suddenly, about a month ago, he began inundating me with “How do you spell…?” questions. These come at all sorts of odd times, like when we’re out walking or he’s in the bath, rather than while he’s writing. Meanwhile I’ve started receiving perfectly spelled emails and text messages from him.

things ive learned homeschooling

J(8) writing his first “novel”

To the untrained eye it might appear that J(8) did nothing for several years and then learned to write and spell in a month. But really, like a wave steadily moving towards the shore, he was of course learning all the time.

And so am I.

things ive learned homeschooling

To find out what the other Homeschool Help ladies want to remember about 2013, head over to:

Every Bed of Roses – Our Year in Review 2013

Highhill Education – Looking Forward – Best College Degrees

Barefoot Hippie Girl – Looking Back: Our 2013 School Year

One Magnificent Obsession – The Days are Long and the Years are Short

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Hip Homeschool Hop

Anything Goes #4

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Weekly Wrap-Up

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