My firstborn graduated from a high school course of study accepted by the state of Alaska and is now attending college (paid for by the state because of good test numbers!). Thirteen years of homeschooling now and I feel properly disposed to present some great ideas. In no particular order they are:
1. One hour a day “alone with your thoughts.” Not a nap. Never call it a nap. This sounds a little fruity, I know, but the real reason is for me to get reacquainted with my thoughts, changing this . . .
into this . . .
2. Family newspaper. Two or three times a year, we hunker down and assign articles to every child for the Howelling Herald, printed on that longer-sized paper. We do recurring features such as Outdoor Odysseys (excursions around), Family Accomplishments (from black belts to potty training), History page (reprinted assigned paragraphs), and Classifieds (from lost cufflinks to cheap plastic crap for sale). Smaller people just color stuff, which I scan and add right in, along with witty commentary.
3. Cheap ziplocs, tape, bandaids, and paper clips as toys. Dump onto the floor and watch them get all MacGyver on you. Amazing creations.
4. A time line made of 3×5 cards stuck to the top of the wall where a wallpaper border would be. Helps to consecutively organize discombobulated reading selections and also helps to place into perspective things like an 8 year old’s obsessesion with ancient Greece and an 11 year old’s love of Scottish fairy tales. I point to the section of the wall where it fits; they draw another 3×5 card with a minotaur or a fairy ring ~ bingo! School.
5. Lots of reading and lots of legos makes an excellent curriculum. Corresponds nicely with:
6. Pair up older children with a younger sibling for a half hour blessing (I call it a spiritual word because it guilts the big kids.). This means that young teens can play forts and legos without embarrassment and little kids get to hang out with cool teens.
7. If there are male children, you can create an entire curriculum around battles. Choose 6-ish important battles to read about. Read all about the country/ies and the reasons (social studies). Recognize and dig into a relatable science topic. Then write about it, play-act it, draw pictures of it (language arts). An easy example is Gettysburg. It’s fun to recreate the battlefield in your yard or living room with small soldiers. There are strategy books for older kids and picture story books for younger kids. Watch it , if they are old enough. Science is battlefield medicine, which is pretty gruesome, which means they’ll love it. Actually, my daughter did, too.
8. An IV in a kid’s arm that needs to be flushed and run through with antibiotics is great science. If you don’t have someone with cystic fibrosis in your family, sorry.
9. Pet care = science. But only if you make the children do the care and then draw pictures of things like the creepy rash on the dog’s belly. Extra points if they mix up tea tree oil and warm water and bathe it. If you make them write about it all, you’ve got language arts; if you make them do graphs of information like weight and amount of food and exercise, you’ve got math.
10. Boxed curricula works just fine and may be exactly right for whatever season you’re in. So does unschooling.
11. Elizabeth Foss’ book. Enough said.
12. My shelf. The red basket squares hold, from left to right, science equipment, math manipulatives, and art supplies, with books on the bottom corresponding orderly. I love my shelf.
And my 13th great idea ~
13. We stuck with it. With all the stress and wondering and trouble and comparisons, we did it; for there is also fun and learning and companionship and education.