Friday, August 28, 2009

Our Slow Schooling Plans For This Year...

Like many homeschoolers I suppose, my dining room table is where it all starts. Books are stacked, planners lay open, and notebooks are at the ready. But the real learning happens on the family room floor, in the hammock outside, or on the computer in the bedroom. It can't be contained to one room or one building or even one town, it happens in many different places. I have found learning can't be done with just one person either- a mom running herself ragged trying to do it all, but by many folks offering up their expertise. Finally, it can't be done using just one set of materials- textbooks, calculators, or posters of facts to study on the wall. Instead, I feel that deeper connections to knowledge is found using a variety of places, people and things.

We will travel many places this year as we make our way around the city discovering different museums and places of interest. Each week we plan on visiting a different New York City site as we learn about history and art in an experiential way. Look under the category of Slow Schooling on my side bar and click on the embedded link to see the places we plan on visiting this year.
Over the years we have been homeschooling, Ryan has taken an interest in independent bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants and local shops. He enjoys the uniqueness each of these places hold and the shop owners we meet there. I think it is because he finds these people to be free spirited and creative. This year as in the last three, we will be sure to pop into as many of these places of business as possible.
Of course, the one place that most homeschoolers frequent and could not do without is the library. Not only can we find great books to read, but educational DVD's, music CD's great programming, a place to study, and all at a great price.
Ryan will come in contact with many different people as he works on learning to play the guitar, designing video games, rock climbing, studying environmental science and nature. He will be taking a video design class through the local community college and attending a rock climbing class with other kids his age at a local climbing wall. He will learn about sustainable living at a local farm based in the Hudson Valley and study nature at a wilderness school in Connecticut. All of these different people will bring a perspective to their areas of expertise that is infectious and it is wonderful to learn from those who love what they do.
When we lived in the Chicago area, we enjoyed the support and friendship we received from the homeschooling groups we were a part of and look forward to making those same sorts of connections here. We have joined four different homeschooling support organizations in this area and look forward to participating with them throughout the year.
Contact is not just made face to face. The Internet brings the whole world to your doorstep and this year Ryan discovered that he wants to write a 50,000 word novel during National Novel Writing Month. While kids are able to set their own word goal, at age 13 kids can sign up for the adult challenge and Ryan wants to work toward that. The site has many great novel writing resources for kids such as how to develop characters and plot.
I am amazed at all of the resources and things that are available to those who choose to homeschool their children. One book I found really helpful when trying to figure out how to homeschool teens is Homeschooling the Teen Years: Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13-18 Year Old by Cafi Cohen. The book is filled with lots of great suggestions no matter what your homeschooling philosophy may be.
Because my homeschool philosophy is closely aligned with Waldorf methods, I have found the Oak Meadow curriculum to be especially pertinent to my way of thinking. Waldorf methods believe in teaching to the whole child, allowing for free thinking and creativity. We will be using their History, Life Science, and Math curriculums this year.
Because Ryan is more of a visual thinker, I will be also be using the book Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra for math this year. This book makes the typical left-brained subject of algebra more appealing to those who are right-brained. So far, Ryan is enjoying learning algebra using the methods in this book.
After discovering that one of his good friends is learning Spanish, Ryan decided he wants to learn Spanish this year and after much research, I found a great CD that includes a text, workbook and audio lessons at the middle school level. Ryan does each lesson on the computer and has also switched his video games over so that they are in Spanish.
Finally, the best thing about slow schooling, is that Ryan has lots of control over his education. He has selected much of what he will be studying this year, and because he has chosen and is interested in his subjects, he is more invested in the process. The end result is a deeper connection to knowledge and in essence to life.
For those of you also slow schooling, enjoy the ride!

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