Sunday, March 13, 2011

Start Here

Staring down the barrel of your child's education is a daunting task to say the least. I keep searching for the step by step guide that says, "Buy this" "Say that" *poof* you have a college grad. It doesn't work like that. Seriously what does? Much like anything else, it's all theory until you jump in an try it. So for my sake and those who need to hear it; this is the first step. The harmless way of getting your feet wet without committing yourself one we or another.

I'm not a huge fan of it. I think with a little creativity you can exhaust any subject without investing in cumbersome textbooks (I'm being green about it, yeah, that's it). But that being said, I'm not against workbooks and things you can find with just a modicum of digging (or in most cases Googling).

Identify a Subject
I'm not insulting your intelligence here, I'm honestly saying, 'Pick a topic any topic'
  • Language - a natural starting point and I think the easiest place to begin
  • Math - another obvious one, but explaining it is a lot harder than I thought
  • Science - content really depends on age, but look around nature and ask "why" or "how" and you've got the basis for science lesson...and of course there's the zoo!
  • Social Studies - the ultimate dumping ground of everything sociological. I recommend starting with Geography (your address, street, etc.) plus the Animaniacs have some awesome songs to learn the States and Capitals and Presidents (through Clinton)
  • Health - again, the age dictates the lessons, but nutrition, fitness and anatomy can be wrapped up in this
  • Philosophy - I want Lorelei to learn about the great philosophers and faiths not just her own so I'm holding off on this one until her frame of reference is a little broader
Teachers Shop at the Same Stores you Do
Long before I ever considered this Home Schooling thing, I went down to the Office Depot (a favorite haunt) and nosed around the teachers' supplies. Something about all of those flash cards and Cat in the Hat job chart and all of those gold stars just gets me giddy. I picked out two workbooks (Preschool and Kindergarten) and a new crayon box and in four months we did about six pages. Not that Lorelei wasn't interested, they just ended up in the drawer is all. But I love a good coloring book, so they made re-appearance every once in a while and went back to the drawer when they got too...wait for it...schooly.

Once I wrapped my head around Eclectic Home Schooling, I realized how many materials I already had in desk drawers, on book shelves and already loaded on the computer. We actually haven't purchased any new books yet!

My Foray into Online Education
Imagine dipping your picky toe into the Pacific. That's what we did when I entertained the idea of online education. We did buy the Nick Jr. Boost program online which I think has been a pretty good investment so far. It grows with her and the characters are familiar. I'm a little under-impressed with the creativity of it. Mainly, it's the same games as the free site but it tracks progress and rewards successes. All in all, I think I'll stick to renting CD programs from the library. At least I can do a little more research on the developers and software instead of trusting the glowing "testimonials" featured on the web pages.

They're Watching You
Of course, let's not forget all that big brother has to offer. 
  • USDA website offers free learning resources (print and online) for health and conservation lesson.
  • has resources for every subject (although I found the only useful ones to be American Studies, go figure) and breaks it up by grade section (K-5, and so on).
  • Federal Resources for Education Excellence (try saying that with a straight face) offers the same sorts of resources but doesn't differentiate by grade.
  • focuses on Government but it couldn't hurt I suppose.
Our tax dollars pay for this stuff so before you go and raid Staples or Amazon or the insanely expensive "private" home schools, take a look at what you have already purchased!

Try a little at a time at first to see what suits you and your family. It's all out there and home school or no you might as well take advantage of it.

Happy Sunday from Bat Country

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