Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Way We School

It's week two of the Not Back To School Blog Hop for 2017!

Have you all been and read the posts from the first week of our not back to school blog hop? If you haven't done that yet please go and check them out. You will find the links to them here at the bottom of this post.

This week our theme is

The Way We School

Like most homeschooling families, this has changed many times over, during the past eleven years for us. I try my hardest to be fluid, to meet the kids where they are at and to find ways that work for all of us. Simply doing what works, as opposed to what everyone else is doing, has been my mantra for quite some time now.

For now what has been working for us is a 4 pronged approach to homeschool. Those 4 prongs are made up of co-operative peer group learning, morning basket family group learning, independent rotation learning and doing one more thing.

I'll give you all a quick overview of each of those prongs and how we roll with them.

Co-operative Peer Group Learning

This is an area that has grown exponentially for us over the past couple of years and for my teen especially has become an imperative part of his education. I am a strong believer that we all need a peer group and even more so as our children age. That's not say that I agree with sending off them for 6 - 8  hours a day 5 days a week to spend all of that time with their peers. No way! But we do need peers, they help us see the world through their eyes, to learn from, to grow with, to bounce ideas and thoughts around. To be there for us celebrate to good times and hug us in the not so great times. Our peers help us navigate the world around us, they assist us in learning how to deal with others both in good times and bad. If we forego those experiences as a youngster then how will we ever learn to navigate the world that is full of strangers out there.

However, co-operative learning for us needs to be quality, it needs to be able to mark off a true day of school. Yes we are absolutely having fun, but we are also learning and learning at a deeper level, not just gathering with others for socialising and calling it educational.

So we currently partake in 2 co-operative learning days a week, during school terms. One runs for 6 weeks and the other for 8 weeks. One is very small with only 4 families involved, but it allows for a real closeness to grow. The small size also gives us the opportunity to really dig deeper in what we are studying and truly spend time on the things we need or want. For example our teens in that little group have spent the last 2 years working solidly through Australian History and a Creative Writing Program. We have time to take our time, we don't need to limit what we are doing to a short 8 week block.

Our other co-op is larger, with around 35 children across a wide group of ages in attendance. This co-op is a bustling hive of activity and all of us enjoy our co-op days immensely.

Morning Basket, Family Group Learning

I've mentioned our morning basket time a bit here on the blog, simply it is a way for us to gather together as a family. To bring all the various ages, abilities and interests of my kids together. A time to begin the day, to bond and to grow together.

As the kids have grown they have needed to branch out and work more independently, morning basket has been our way of keeping at least part of our day for us to all be together.

Independent Rotations

This part of our day is exactly as it sounds. Independent Rotations follows straight after our Morning Basket time. Basically each of the children complete independent work and then I rotate through seeing each of them.

Each child heads off to their own area to work independently. For my 8 year old this means still having me very close by, but slowly he is becoming more and more independent in his work.  As soon as he and I are done, he has some free time.

I then move on to my middle child to go over her work and to complete anything we have that we do together. We also use this time to do more reading aloud, when it's just us and she can choose a book she really wants to read.

Then she joins her little brother for a spot of free time and I head over to see what my eldest is up to. We don't meet every single day, but at least twice a week he and I will sit down together to chat about what he's up to and where he is headed.

By that time it is well and truly lunch and we are all ready for a break.

Doing One More Thing

Now this is one area that I am really not very good at. We always start the year out well but I do tend to let this slip by the wayside. So once again my plan is to be more intentional with our 'doing one more thing'.

All this simply means is that after lunch we do something else. It doesn't mean that it is an afternoon spent tied to the books. So basically it could be an art project, some history reading, a documentary to watch, a science experiment to complete etc etc.

In my head I see us rotating through topics and subjects for this part of our day and I have begun writing out some plans for this, but in reality it is more likely to be, let's just see where it takes us.

And that then brings us to the end of the day, or the more structured, formal learning part of our days anyway. It's been working well for us and it is a routine we will continue to put into place until it longer works.

How about you? Do you have a routine like structure to your day? Please share it the comments so others may be inspired. Or if you blog, why not join us in our blog hopping fun.

Be sure to read the other bloggers posts on 'how they school' by visiting the links below.

Happy Homeschooling,

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Anonymous said...

Our day runs very similar.
We start with a read aloud from our current novel.
Then the boys work through their English and Maths based work fairly independently. They are only 8 and 7(ASD) so they need me close but I am working on building their independence.
We have a short break and start back with more read alouds. Two days a week will be SOTW and the other two days will be based on our current theme work (currently Australian History).
After that we break for lunch. After lunch it's our One More Thing time too. Art, Science experiment, baking, Nature walk, etc.

Sabrina said...

This is pretty similar to our Homeschool approach but I like your "one more thing" idea! We do coop, circle time and independent time then we have one day a week for "extras" so I guess I put our "one more thing" into that day.

Christy B. said...

Two things:

I love the idea of "Do one more thing." That's brilliant! I imagine you get a lot of learning in doing "just one thing."

Also, doing what works for YOUR family is so important! Comparing to others, curriculum hunting, sticking to a schedule that has seen its day--none of those work. Homeschools are living, breathing beings that need to change as the family changes.

Thank you for sharing your homeschool with us.

Annette said...

this year we've managed to find a routine that is working for us. :) a good thing it is indeed.

Erin said...

I love your catch phrase 'four pronged' may well borrow it ;-)
Co-ops are wonderful and I completely agree with all your experiences. And now laughing at myself, we do have co-ops here but I didn't even mention them in my posts as we haven't yet started back!
Your learning time sound rather similar to ours.
As for 'One More Thing' sounds like our SQUIRT (Quiet reading time in new genres) this year, I didn't even mention as we haven't even got out the starting gate with :-(

Thanks for hosting

Amy said...

I love how you have organised your approach into these 4 categories. It gives a great framework while allowing for flexibility.

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