This is part 2 of a 3 part series around questions posed to the Nomads as it pertains to education. Question 1 was Why We Homeschool. It was covered as part 1 of the 3 part series. Following on the heals of why, we come to the question of how: how we homeschool?
I am here to tell you that it was not a simple and easy transition. I was public schooled. Mama Nomad was public schooled as were our parents and their parents. It was all we knew. When we began to do our research, some information existed but it was sparse at best. There were boxed curricula available. But, it was essentially public school at home. And that was not conducive to multiple learning styles or time efficiency.
So, Mama Nomad did a lot of study, research and inquiry. Then she came back to me with arm loads of data and choices. From this, we picked what we believed to be the best and most optimal for our children and that is how we developed their first curriculum. As the boys progressed through, we definitely saw variances in learning styles and we adjusted what programs we used for which child to better suit their learning style.
Over the years we have used a combination of a multitude of methods. We have had math lessons in books, on DVD and on the computer. As the kids get older, some methods only went to a certain age and we had to transition to a new method. After 6 years or so, we have a pretty good handle on things as far as process and curriculum. We have instilled a want to learn in our boys. And, honestly, they are approaching us with questions of possibilities for learning. We are asked if they can watch certain documentaries, take online college classes and even purchase e-Books on biochemistry that are taught with a Japanese method.
So, in the home, we employ a combination of computer based lessons, reading classic and modern literature, educational field trips, e-Books and a few paper text books. We love our history curriculum and it is paperback based.
Also, when we venture out and about on daily activities, we take the time to educate when the opportunity arises. Recently the youngest Nomad and I went to the grocery store. He asked me which cheese to grab from the shelf out of the healthy, organic kinds that we will eat. I asked him which one was the best deal? He looked at me with a little confusion and chose the lowest cost. I pointed out that it was smaller than others with higher costs. And, so a math lesson on division of price by measurement of quantity ensued in the grocery store aisle. After the hard work of math, I then pointed out the little number on each price tag that said how many cents per ounce each was. Have to teach them how to do the process and then show them the easy way.
Another example is our recent trip to the Asheville Wildlife Nature Center. Mama Nomad is not fond of snakes. So, she stayed outside of the reptile house. While we were in there, I took the time to educate the boys about poisonous and non-poisonous snakes and how to visually tell the difference. We hike in wooded areas and along river banks a lot. I felt this was a required lesson. The next day, I remembered that Mama Nomad was not in there to hear the lesson and, low and behold, she was taught by our boys how to tell the difference. So, they listened, learned and already retaught. I was proud. Which, for those of you who want to know, poisonous snakes typically have a flatter and wider head while non-poisonous snakes have thinner, more cylindrical heads.
We also put practical application to work on a regular basis. Our eldest Nomad, at the age of 8, wanted to be a writer. I was partners in a web development and hosting company at the time so I created a website for him to contribute to. He started out with writing one paragraph. And then he progressed to 3: introduction, body and conclusion. His articles began to get longer and more complex. This continued until he was in double-digit years and actually was paid to write an article for a health site. The whole time Mama Nomad gave writing assignments and reading assignments to help him hone his craft. We do our best to identify and nurture the pathways that will help our boys achieve their passions. Side note, our eldest Nomad completed his first novel by the age of 16 and it is currently with a publisher in final editing.
Finally, Mama Nomad created carschooling. We spend so much time in Ebony that this seemed logical. We have flash cards (presidents, states, match, etc) in the car as well as audio books. We recently went through The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli as well as an Ayn Rand book called Anthem. Additionally, I had confirmation that the flash cards, do indeed, work. This is funny.
I was on the phone with a colleague relaying that our next stop was in a house that is on land granted to the relatives of John Tyler by the King of England. Mama Nomad, after the call, asked me what I said. I repeated myself. And she told me “No. It was Zachary Taylor.” Then she gave me a funny look about it that made me question my facts. I said, with a wavering voice “John Tyler was a president, right?” Then I promptly said, “Let’s consult the experts.” I went over to the boys and asked if John Tyler was an US President. Our youngest Nomad, without missing a beat, said, “Yes sir. He was the 10th President.” Confirmation that the flash cards work and pride over them learning filled me. Happy and proud at the same time.
Different families will have different learning styles and different requirements. The above is the compilation that worked for us. You will have to adjust according to your children and your preferred lifestyle. Next we will tackle the topic of Homeschooling and Socialization. Safe Travels.