Road Schooling - One month Update
I never thought I would be saying this, but we have completed our first month of road schooling!!! That is my first big surprise and the second is that it was a HUGE success. Read more to find out what worked and what didn't.
The differences and similarities between road schooling and home schooling have become clear and we are using resources from both schools of thought. I'll talk about that more in another post.
Before beginning our road schooling journey I was scared. So I am speaking to any parent out there that is interested in road/home schooling but doesn't know where to start and is worried about messing up their children forever. I am here to tell you that you won't mess them up anymore than normal, it is hard work, but it is the most rewarding work you could ever do. My other piece of advice is that you are not alone, so reach out to other moms and dads that are in your community and get your hands on as much information and resources out there.
How to figure out what will work?
First you have to realize that what works for us might not work for you and you shouldn't try to make anyone's school approach fit your children. Your school approach will actually end up being a bit different for each child in your house, because it is suppose to be for them and they are each individuals. I still don't have everything figured out and I am sure that I never will, but I did find a way that worked for me to monitor and evaluate what did work.
I have a simple spiral notebook where I write down the time and activity for each child and roughly how long it takes them to complete it. I have been writing this in chronological order, however you don't have to. It sounds simple, and it is!
Why it works? It lets me reflect everyday after school what worked, what didn't and how much time everything is taking. I have also been taking notes on how the kids do in each activity. For example a the first few days we did about an hour of math and I noticed that after this Lupita needed to go lay down. She specifically asked to go lay down. This is my child who hasn't napped since age 1. What that told me was that she was using her brain maybe more than she had been in school and second that maybe we should do that in two phases with a break in between.
I have moved our schedule around starting with story time, ending with story time, and mixed it up as much as I can to do a trial and error run of what works for us. I haven't bought into any set curriculum other than some workbooks, although I do plan on buying some that way I don't have to make all the worksheets by hand the night before, it has given me a good sense of what curriculums I don't want to buy. Sometimes knowing what you don't want is just as important as what you do.
Do we stick to a schedule?
Yes. It is important for all of us that we have a schedule. My right brained 6 yr old likes to know what we are doing almost every second of the day and doesn't let anybody fall behind. We get started around 8:30 every morning, which is great because it lets them sleep in a bit longer and it lets me get more done in the morning. We normally snack around 10:15, have lunch at 12:30 and then finish up shortly after lunch. We are sometimes done around 1:30 however the kids have been loving their art time so I leave that until the end of the day and they sometimes keep drawing, cutting, and glueing stuff well into 3 pm. Lupita (6) has a dance class 4 times a week for an hour and a half. This lets her interact with other children, and gets her out of the house so Abe can have full reign on his new legos.
Do the kids miss school?
What do we learn?
For age 6 - We are focusing right now on pledge of allegiance, sight words, Spanish, addition memorization, spelling, measuring, telling time, history, art, singing, pottery, construction of 3D designs, public speaking, and home education.
For age 3 - pledge of allegiance, numbers, letters, colors, (these in English and Spanish), patterns, crayon control, learning good habits (sitting still, waiting until snack time to eat, sharing, picking up after himself, and sitting still during story time). He is huge into the pottery, construction of 3D designs, public speaking, and home education.
How do we get this all done everyday? We don't. Some days we do a few subjects and other days we don't. I do make sure that we do some reading, writing, and math everyday. Those are the subjects we need to gain a more solid foundation. Because of how happy it makes my kids we also do art everyday!! They love it and can sit there and work their little hands for hours.
What does a 3 yr old do in school?
First I should say that we have recess in our school. We have time where they get to go to their room and play. The three yr old, Abe gets more of this than Lupita (6). I do have him participate in about two good hours of work. It is hard to get an active boy to sit that long and do anything. So he does it in spurts and with the reward of getting to create something with clay or get his building blocks out and make something. I noticed that when he knew something he liked was next that he did his work almost 5 times faster.....little stinker.
Do the kids like our new road school?
FYI...I would tell you if they hated it. But they don't! They LOVE IT!!! I can't tell you how excited they are to go to our school at our kitchen table and participate in activities together. Every morning they get to the table with no complaints....well maybe the 3 yr old isn't always an eager beaver, but after explaining why we have school, he sits down and cooperates.
I have been called their "favorite teacher" many times. I can't tell you how awesome that is. I love it. They like the games and don't seem to miss much. They have each other and some days Lupita will get off her chair and help Abe with his triangles. He will respond with a "thank you", and she says "your welcome", and my heart melts. I feel so blessed to be able to witness this part of their life. They even ask to have school on Saturdays and I have to tell them taking a couple days off is okay. That is more Lupita than Abe.
What hasn't worked?
A couple of days I let the kids watch a t.v. show before school and it was a disaster. We now have a strict no t.v. rule on school days.
I have also noticed that when Abe has iPad time (a color or letter activity), that Lupita gets distracted. So I still haven't figured exactly how to have him on his activity and keep her from being distracted. I could maybe get him headphones, but since he is three the ear buds we currently have just fall out.
My market days throw us off. I have to go to the market a couple days a week and the whole thing throw us all off course. I think it is mainly because of the heat here. We come home sweating and dripping. After walking 30 blocks there and back with bags of groceries, and pushing your way through a crowded market we all want to take a nap. I have to remind myself that the whole Mexico market experience is a lesson in itself. I do have the kids talk and pay all of the vendors. They must say hello, thank you, and ask how much we owe them. It helps them with their self-confidence in speaking in a foreign language. They also have to walk the entire way and each have a bag that they fill and carry. Sometimes I end up carrying someone's bag, but they do a good job. I need to figure out why none of us want to do anything after returning from our little adventure. We did take a taxi home the other day and that seemed to help a bit...but still on the lookout for why it burns us out.
What has worked?
Implementing snack time and recess time is very important to all of us. I love it when they have recess time and so do they. Giving children time to have free play is so important. I don't care what they do for 15 minutes but they go and do something that isn't on an electronical device, or planned.
Organized snack time - my kids tend to think I only live to cook and clean their dishes. So we eat at breakfast time, snack time, and lunch time. No other eating allowed. The first few days it seemed that they were hungry every 10 minutes and well that just didn't allow for solid learning time. Now that they know when they can and cannot eat everyone is happier.
Designated notebooks- They each have their own notebook for writing. Abe's doubles has his writing and math book, because he does less. Lupita has a writing and a math notebook. We chose spiral notebooks because that way nothing falls out and it is very easy for them and us to see what exactly they have been working on. I am also hoping that has they progress it will also be very easy for us to see their progression in the notebook.
We are also experimenting with technology. We are reading both paper and ebooks. We are taking classes in person and using some of Googles new programs - Google Connected Classrooms and Google Helpouts. They are fantastic programs that are free to use. Some others that we are entertaining using are Readingegg.com, Khan Academy, and International Connections Academy.
I am also experimenting with tablet writing and traditional paper and pen writing. We don't have a stylus yet, so I can't make a direct comparison, however this is something that I hope to get in the next couple of months.
Having to be more mobile and on a budget has made us think outside of the box as far as resources go. Although at times I feel inundated with information it is amazing how much education is changing. The resources out there for learning are amazing. There is nothing that you can't learn.
The best part is that we are all enjoying the learning process together, I get to witness their learning, and be apart of it. Watching their little arms and hands move and work quietly has been so amazing. The kids are loving it and although every second isn't a joy, it is well worth the time and sacrifices. Zeek will walk through in between conference calls and their little brains and bodies learning brings a smile to his face. We both feel that this was the right decision for our family.
Remember you kids are unique and what works for one family might not work for another. Embrace your differences and go with them. It will help your children realize who they are and what they enjoy.