A Different Approach To The New School Year
It’s the first week of September.
Moms are taking pictures of their freshly combed children in the morning, holding up cute signs with their grade levels.
School buses are buzzing around the neighborhood again.
And homeschool bloggers everywhere, are sharing their curriculum picks for the new school year.
I’m like an addict with these posts. I want to see all the things that everyone is doing with their 2nd graders, 5th graders and high-schoolers.
I read all the lists of all the new programs and curriculums.
I spend way too much money on this book and that book, when I see something that might work well for my sons.
It’s just part of back to school, when you are a homeschooling mom (and honestly, a fun part at that!).
Since publishing Special Education at Home, many of you have asked that I share more specifics about how we actually do learning at home. (Incidentally, I am LOVING sharing the details of our schooling. It is so much more enjoyable to discuss a fun approach to history, than it is to talk about my son’s meltdowns and my heart hurting all the time. A balance between the two types of posts is working really well – thank you for encouraging me to share more!)
A Different Approach To The New School Year
I can’t really write a standard curriculum post. I think it would be laborious – “We are using this program with our ten-year-old, but only the parts on pages 11-14 with the hands on activities. And we are using this book for science, but only as a reference when we are completing lab work.”
My out-of-the-box boys require me to think out-of-the-box in our school work – all the time, and especially in choosing curriculum.
It occurs to me that as they are getting older, and their needs become more diverse, our school year looks very, very different from it has in the past.
Here’s what is new for us this time around –
My children both LOVE science. In the past, I have tried to incorporate standard science labs and curriculum into our days, along with their already passionate pursuits of all things science.
This year, I am giving myself a break.
Why spend time and energy trying to do science that “counts” on a curriculum planner, when I am blessed to have boys that will pursue it on their own?
For my oldest, this means a project based approach to computer builds and functionality. For my youngest, it means taking advantage of his current interest in gemstones and crystals (with a unit study that makes me smile every time we pull out any resources).
And this brings me to the next item…
I have always considered TV shows and You Tube programs part of how we learn. However, I have also always looked at it as something extra, not part of our “real” learning plan. This year, that is changing.
For example, part of the gemstone unit I mentioned above, includes watching the Dirty Jobs episode where Mike Rowe goes to Coober Pedy, Australia to mine opals.
Including media resources as part of our learning plan ties the learning together, instead of designating media as an extra.
That, and it requires less of all of us, without losing any learning. (Win-Win!)
One Class A Piece
Say a prayer with me on this one.
I have asked both of my children to choose one class they would like to attend at a local homeschool co-op this year.
Not surprisingly, they both chose science classes.
On Tuesday afternoons, my 13-year-old will be taking a physical science class with nine other homeschooling middle-schoolers.
On Fridays, my youngest is taking a robotics class.
I am requiring one class for each child this year for two reasons.
#1 – I need a small break from each of them.
#2 – I want to see how well they function in a group environment.
Whether or not they really learn anything in these classes is of little consequence to me this year (although I imagine they will). These classes are more about social skills, working in a team environment, and allowing my boys interact with new authority figures. It feels like the right next step.
(Update: My youngest was not able to pull this one off right now. He has so much going on psychologically, and the class has been causing more anxiety than he already struggles with on a daily basis. Plans are really more like suggestions or hopes in our life right now. We withdrew him from the class and agreed to work on snap-circuits at home for now. Maybe next year…)
As always, every single plan we make for the school year is subject to change, as my children’s needs expand and change. Consider this post written in pencil.
Life will happen.
And no matter how this year plays out, I am confident that learning will happen too.
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Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.
Being a mother of several special needs kids, I get it. We have changed plans many times over the years and each year looks a little different as kids mature or the family dynamics change. Your plans sound great.
Thanks Dawn! I hope your year is off to great start. 🙂
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