Making it a Lifestyle:
Thankfully, learning is not relegated to merely the children. Learning is not only for children, but for all of us. As we actively participate in the learning process our lives become characterized by a lifestyle of learning. It is truly a family affair!
While we are all wired to learn, young children’s brains are wired differently than an older child or adult brain. Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Rudolf Steiner, Raymond Moore in addition to countless modern developmental psychologists are all in agreement that how a child learns in the first 7 or so years is fundamentally different than for older children. They learn best primarily through play and in a more holistic, experience based way.
We live in a culture that is focused on producing ‘super-kids’ and there is incredible pressure to introduce formal academics in order to give your child an edge. Not only is there no research to back up this focus on formal academics in the early years, there is considerable evidence that it can indeed harm a child and crush their ability and interest in learning.
Each child is unique. What works for one child, might not work for another. Taking an individualistic approach to education can really go a long way to engaging them in the learning process and helping them to succeed!
“Without experiences, there are no concepts. Without concepts there is no attention. Without attention, they don’t know what you are talking about.”
~Jane Healy in Endangered Minds
Making learning hands-on helps in retaining information you are learning. Finding ways to get my children’s bodies involved, especially for my boys at this young age are vital. For some children (I was one of those) this hands on, whole-body approach is needed throughout their formal schooling years.
Philosophy and Science of Education
Finding Balance in a Hurried World A great article that asks some great questions as parents pursue what and how much formal academics to do with young children.
Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School An intriguing article put out by the Alliance for Childhood.
Reclaiming Kindergarten: Making Kindergarten Less Harmful to Boys Not a homeschooling article, but a fascinating look at the research involving early, formal, ‘at a desk’ academics and boys at this age. Well worth a read if you are the parent of young boys or one of those very active girls!
Teaching Academics in Preschool and Kindergarten? Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrician responds to the early push of academics.
Learning by Doing
Curriculum I Use
Here’s what a “typical” day looks like in our home.
Here’s our Curricula for this 2013-14
KONOS A fabulous multi-level, hands-on unit study curriculum for k-8th grade! It focuses on learning thru the 5 D’s – discovery, dramatization, doing, dialogue and finally drill. According to co-author Jessica Hulcy, KONOS makes “the whole idea of school and learning becomes blurred with play. Imagination just takes over.”
Spring 2013- Also using Apologia’s Astronomy alongside our KONOS unit.
For First and Third Grade:
Spell to Write and Read by Wanda Sanseri. This is a comprehensive, multi-sensory COMPLETE phonics program that teaches reading through spelling. I love how it fully equips the child to decode ANY word from the get-go. The English language is more than 95% phonetic and once you have the right tools, children can read just about anything. My time and money is limited. I love how it incorporates handwriting, spelling, reading and basic grammar instruction into one and it spans from kindergarten up through highschool! There is a learning curve to get started (for mom), but it is so easy once you get going. There is also a great yahoo group that provides so much support and information. Great review here. The only extra thing you need to order is either a primary learning log (k-2) or a black learning log (3grade+), plus an extra learning log for the parent.
Cursive First (Rationale from the book found here.)We made the switch to cursive this year and I couldn’t be more thrilled. This program is very developmentally appropriate and provides a multi-sensory approach to learning cursive first that utilizes gross-motor movements first before moving to the fine motor movement of utilizing a pencil and paper. The sandpaper letters that go with this set are phenomenal too! Excellent article by Sam Blumenfeld on why to teach cursive first.
For 3rd Grade:
McCall-Crabb Test Lessons in Reading – We do these three times a week!