Monday, September 3, 2012

Why I Love Homeschooling

My homeschooling "chalkboard"
I "officially" started homeschooling last Monday, as that's when the school year started around here, the year that my oldest son, Lee, is legally required to be "schooled".
I've considered myself a homeschooler even before this week, as I've never sent my kids out regularly, even though the public school system starts here at age 3, and most opt to send their kids out already from a very young age- some by 3 months old, but nearly everyone I know sends out by a year and a half.
I've opted out of sending my kids to school at all for many reasons, at this point in time, and probably also in the future as well, but as I've been saying all along, we'll make our decisions about schooling one year at a time.

Today, something happened that pretty much demonstrated to me what exactly I love so much about homeschooling, and I wanted to share it with you.

I was busy washing dishes, and Lee and Ike were playing together. Anneliese was napping.

Lee and Ike asked for a treat, so I gave them some homemade marshmallows to eat.

Lee, really enjoying the marshmallow, tells me "Mommy, you should make these marshmallows again and sell them. That way you'd have a lot of money."

Over the running water, and while soaping the dishes, dishes, I start talking to Lee about how money making works, how you can't just make money out of thin air, that there are all sorts of factors that come into play when you want to make money.

"Lee, making these marshmallows isn't so cheap. The ingredients are expensive. If I sold them cheaply or even at the regular price, I wouldn't have much money left over after what I spent on the ingredients."
"So just charge sixty five hundred million dollars for those marshmallows, Mommy."
"Would you pay sixty five hundred million dollars for marshmallows, Lee?"
"I don't have that much money."
"But if you did, would you spend that much on marshmallows?"
"So why do you think someone else would?"
"Oh yea..."

I decided it was time to let the dishes slide, and instead, give Lee an "official" lesson on basic economics, with my attention fully on him.
I sat down next to Lee, and decided to start with the basics.
Income, expenses, and profit.

Instead of doing something vague like potential profit from selling marshmallows, I decided to stick with something he knew more about- my foraging classes.
On the notebook, I wrote down the names of my expenses entailed in teaching the classes, and had him sound out the simple words, like BUS. Next to each of the expenses, I wrote down how much each of those expenses were, and then taught him the technique of addition involving carrying. (Up until that point, he was only able to add numbers 1-15 or so, all in his head, with a little help from his finger.) We added up the total expenses involved in my classes, and Lee was flabbergasted.
"Why teach the class if you have to spend so much money to have the class? Isn't the point to make money?"

I then explained to him the other side of the equation- the income I make from the class. I showed him how much I'd make from the class if 1 person came, versus 5 people, versus twenty, again practicing the technique of addition with carrying.

Then, I explained to him what profit was, how you take the total income, and then subtract the expenses, and you end up with total profit, which is the money you actually are making. We did subtraction with carrying to figure this out... and then all of a sudden, it hit Lee-
"You said we're going to learn about money- instead, you're teaching me math! You're silly, Mommy!"
I laughed, and said "Not just money and math, I also taught you some reading."

And that is exactly why I love homeschooling. I love that lessons aren't broken down into different subjects, that there isn't first a math lesson, then a reading lesson, then an economics lesson, but rather, that we learn everything together, everything integrated into each other. That seems like a much more natural way to learn, and a better way to remember things, because you see the value of the tools and techniques you're learning, and therefore are more inclined to remember it.
I love that when there is a topic I want to teach about, our writing and math and crafts and stories are all thematic, and overlapping.
And I love that learning happens spontaneously, following my son's lead. I find this engages him so much more, because he actually wants to know the subject that I'm teaching him- after all, it was his questions that led to the topic being delved into.

But I think one of the sweetest things of all, is that 5 year old Lee sits down 3 year old Ike, and starts teaching him the alphabet. And Ike actually is learning. Lee feels good about sharing what he learns, and Ike loves learning from his older brother that he adores. And Lee actually is a good teacher!

Anyhow, I just really love homeschooling. I know no learning method is perfect, and some people would hate to homeschool, but its things like this that reinforce just why I love homeschooling. Because learning comes naturally, as it should.

If you're a homeschooling mom, what is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
If you're not a homeschooling parent, I'm wondering, does your child learn thematically in school, or is it divided, with math being taught separately from reading, which is taught separately from writing, which is separate from social studies, etc...

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