Homeschooling Series: Resources

March 18, 2010

It is so great to be back for the second series with our homeschooling/unschooling families

I know that for so many of us who home school, or are considering homeschooling/unschooling, we really want to understand what the resources are that are available to us, and can help us navigate our way through this process.

Here are the questions that our families answered for this week

1. What resources do you consider to be most important in homeschooling your child?
2. What materials do you rely on most?
3. What do you consider to be the most important part of your homeschooling day?

Please feel free to leave any questions or thoughts that you may have in the comment section, and we will make sure to answer them here, or use them in the upcoming series.

Photograph by Andy

Andy

~ I am going to put tons of money on the fact that this will be popular answer number one… the most important resource – nature. Then – the outside world. living. family. The unschedule of everyday life.
The library! The big box “flagship” Whole Foods that just opened near us. The nearby CSA… The 50+ community in which my parents reside. Our homeschool co-op!

~ I rely first, on the weather… I am not a great cold-weather unschooler. I try so hard to get my three bundled up and out for the day, but it is so incredibly difficult. I am doing much better now that spring is in the air! Otherwise, the library is our first resource… then the internet to find out more of the day’s interest (for the past 6+ months it has been all about the Titanic). Lots of art supplies: paint, material, high quality markers, clay (although, we just got modeling beeswax).

~ This is a hard one. I’d love to think that I have some kind of rhythm down where we have a nice routine, but we don’t. Every day brings different challenges. Right now, if my 1.5 year old does not nap, it is very difficult to focus my attention on a serious art project because he (the youngest) is into everything… and it frustrates my other two – he seems to just pull, rip, yank, destroy whatever they may be working on… When he does nap, this is probably the most important part of our day – the regular, at home nap (instead of the on-the-go and sleep-in-the-car-nap) – this is when I can really focus on my, ugh – soon to be 6 year old, oldest son and daughter… We are “traveling” through the states and painting outlines of each state right now. We integrate bodies of water, the capitol, three major cities, interstates within each state… We also look up on line the states’ “firsts.” While we do this, my 3.5 year old daughter enjoys painting, cutting, gluing… she loves to listen to what we are doing as well. She is a very content young girl – she can sit for a good hour sipping tea and painting.

Emily

~ One of the best resources I use is my local homeschool group. We have meetings once a month, and the kids can play while the adults plan. We take field trips, hold workshops for the kids, and have a parent’s night out once a month. It is also really great to hear what other families are doing, and get ideas we may use… or not.
The Library is a HUGE resource for us. We go there weekly and the kids can take out anything that interests them. I also can find out different local ‘happenings’ that we may want to go to.
The internet is another big resource we rely on. If the kids want to know something, I can look up the subject on the internet. Up pops websites for it, books to read further, I can hold the books at my library’s website, find out if there are crafts, recipes, hikes, etc. I can also look at different websites geared for homeschoolers and get ideas for things to do with the kids. It is pretty fabulous!
I honestly don’t think I could homeschool without these resources.

~ I don’t really rely on any materials… I guess reading blogs of other homeschoolers is mine, to get ideas, and to know that there are other unschool families out there.

The materials that my kids gravitate towards are their craft supplies (crayons and watercolor tubes right now), legos (I LOVE the things they create with them!), and books (usborne books are our faves right now).

Natalie

~ There are so many resources out there for homeschooling it can sometimes be overwhelming, especially to those new to homeschooling. Some of our resources have changed, been dropped, or new ones found as our children have changed and gotten older. Our most valued resources that always seem to be there and used are definitely the local library and Internet. No matter what we do or what our interests are there is always a need for books to read and place to find quick info.

~ Similar to my first answer, it seems that as our children and interests evolve, our resources and materials evolve as well. But I do have a few materials that are always there and used. First, our religious texts. Second, my Charlotte Mason Companion. It’s pulled out at least once a year and read to re-inspire me like an old friend. Third, books, books, books. Plenty of books always lying around to read. And I’d have to say for sure that plenty of paper, pencils and art supplies are always, always, always relied on!

~ I can’t say that I have an “official” part of the day that’s most important to me. I have important moments. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut or get stuck doing the same thing day in and day out. We wake up, we eat, we get dressed, we do chores, we read, we play, etc. . . . It can become a routine that gets taken for granted. But it’s the moments that are most important to me. When my child reads his first word and I get to be there along side him and see his face light up. When my child looks so proud because she cooked an entire meal by herself and I get to share that. When my child is so happy because she finally “gets” something after working so hard at it. When I get to snuggle with my children on the couch and get lost in a good book. It’s those moments that happen throughout my homeschooling days that are most important to me.

Kimberly

~ As much as I love the internet for connecting me to so much information and inspiration, I would have to say that our local library system is my number one resource. We recently tapped into our county system and it has opened the library to us in a new way, bringing us many more books than are available at our city library. It also has a more advanced search engine and the ability to hold and transfer books from an entire regional library network, and we can keep the books longer. I have been able to find many out-of-print and obscure titles this way, and I can keep my voracious fantasy genre reader satisfied and find all of the science books his inventor-in-the-making brother needs. As a plus I have been able to peruse many knitting books!

~ We are uniquely “Waldorf unschoolers”; I have an unschooling mindset but we do a limited amount of focused lesson work using a variety of holistic curricula such as Live Education, Christopherus, Enki, and A Little Garden Flower. I use black boards, painting boards, and several types of lesson books from Paper Scissors Stone. Stockmar crayons and Lyra colored pencils have served us for years now. Quality art supplies and good drawing paper are used multiple times daily.

Oh, and games! Game playing is possibly all you need until age 8 or so in terms of “academics”; it is amazing how much children learn naturally by playing games.

~ For me, it is the rhythm that sustains the day rather than any single part of the day; the things that are the same from day to day, week to week, month to month. I find that a child that lives in rhythm is less stressed and is able to focus and sink into activities, whether that is playing house or practicing math equations. I believe that rhythm is one of the great pillars of homeschooling and of life in general, along with environment and community

Photograph by Adrie

Julie

~ We glean a significant amount of ideas for other homeschoolers and the internet. The library is also a major resource for us as well as nature

~ Books and magazines. These are scoured daily and where my children get their ideas as to what direction our schooling takes.

~ The morning! It sets the tone for the entire day. As much as I would love to say that we roll with the punches, we don’t, at least not very well, but we are working on this.

Hannah

~ Hands down are favorite resource is the library. I’m not sure if that even counts as it actually is just a haven of limitless resources. We visit the library very frequently and discover so much each time. I try to select books (fiction, nonfiction, biographical, etc) that introduce us to new paths of discovery. My daughter also constantly surprises me with what she is drawn to there. We have always been able to find wonderful books and resources to support our current interests. It’s marvelous. If your library is limited see if they cooperate in an interlibrary loan program. Most do…which increases your resources infinitely!

~ Our homeschooling is based on Waldorf and Montessori philosophies. I make many of our materials and try to include my children in as much of their construction as I can. So much learning occurs as we make and discuss the materials. In that way I really think that the materials we rely on most are our art materials…mainly crayons and paper. We place no limits on paper use and enjoy huge production of art. Many of our lessons occur on huge paper rolled out on our table. There is something truly magical about a wide blank white surface and a bin full of bits of waxy color! We face the same challenge as many of you regarding how best to include two children of much different ages in learning activities. With literally the entire table a drawing surface I can (usually!) easily include my little man cub (18 mos) and my daughter (4) at the same time! Which is magical!

~ Strangely enough I think the “making dinner” hour is the most important part of our homeschooling day. I say “strangely” because I have recounted in my blog the high intensity of that hour as all of us are in one space working with potentially (and sometime actually) messy materials on a deadline. But the routine and sense of peace that comes from making a meal to enjoy together as a family is very important to our family’s rhythm. It also proves to be a wonderful time to discuss our day. What we have experienced on our adventures that day. The sifting, sorting, and connecting that occurs among the ingredients we are baking with are matched by the sifting, sorting, and connecting that is happening in little minds regarding their day. It is also a wonderful time to have one little one helping to bake and another working independently with an activity beside us.

Renee

~ (Question #1) I would say that the philosophies of Waldorf education/Rudolph Steiner are the most important resources for our family. I completely trust in this wisdom. The fairy tales, the fables… to be bringing these stories to my child at the right time, I am so thankful for this guidance! These days life can be very busy, (we are almost always at home but working at home…), there is not always a lot of sit down at a table school time, but I know that we have created an appropriate environment for our children, they are surrounded by beauty and creativity both indoors and out, and they are always learning. I may not be able to do all that I wish I could, (I may sometimes long for a local Waldorf school), but at least we are all here together in a good place!

Roxy

~ As we are working at the ‘preschool’ level, we rely mostly on Little Acorn Learning for a more structured set of materials, but mostly, we read, read, and read books, do handwork, go on walks, bake, draw, go on trips, . . . . the list goes on and on. Most of the materials we use, I would say, are just part of life.

~ (Question #3) Right now, the most important part is when we are all doing something
together . . . and we are so into whatever we are doing, that time, the world, everything just flies by. And we’re sharing stories and laughing and sharing the activity at hand. I think that’s when life and learning happen simultaneously, and that’s when I think we’re successful.

Photograph by Adrie

Adrie

~ I think I would probably list nature as my number one resource. My daughter is still very young (2 1/2), and my first intention with her is mostly to experience the world hands-on, to cultivate a sense of wonder and connection. As she grows older, the natural world will continue to be a huge source for us. Nearly everything can be found there – math, art, music, learning to nurture other creatures.
I would say the public libraries are our second most cherished resource.

~ Since my daughter is still so young, we don’t use any materials yet in the way that we may, someday. For general ideas, I love Teach Your Own by John Holt, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, and Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer.

~ At this age, I would say the times we spend reading books (morning, noon, and night – my babe is a bookworm like her parents), the time we spend outdoors, and the time we spend together in the kitchen.

Emile

~ The internet. At first I said this tongue in cheek, but it’s true. Having an endless source of information online, makes it easy for me to go with the flow, when the flow takes us beyond what I had prepared for. I may not know the life cycle of hummingbirds, but when my kids ask and are interested, we’re just a few clicks away from satisfying their curiosity.

~ Basic art supplies: LOTS of paper, markers, crayons, paint, scissors, and tape
Books, we spend a lot of time at the library
Music. We use music to help reinforce what we’re learning, and as a tool for transition times

~ For us it’s transitions. The transitions between activities, between sleep and wakefulness, give the opportunity to set the mood for what’s ahead. This is where there is a lot of energy that will either be chaotically unleashed, or constructively channeled.This is where my kids either get bored, or get more excited for what’s ahead.

Thank you so much to all the families who shared here today, and please remember that this is an open group, and all are welcome to join us at any time. Simply email me at heather@shivayanaturals.com to be added to the email list.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Lacey March 18, 2010 at 1:15 pm

what great information!

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Tonya March 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Hi Heather,
I am printing these out because even though I am a veteran home learning Mom it is always refreshing and helpful to read about others' recommendations and experiences.
Many thanks for doing this and for everyone that contributed.
Warm wishes and joy.

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Gina March 18, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Thank you so much for posting this series. It is great to hear what everyone else relies on

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Stephanie March 18, 2010 at 9:18 pm

Thanks for posting this series Heather, this information is very helpful.

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Jennifer March 19, 2010 at 12:45 am

So thankful for all of this homeschooling information. We'll be switching from public to homeschooling this fall and I'm excited and anxious and nervous and worried and happy all at once. This is all wonderful and fantastic knowledge you're sharing. Thank you for that!

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Polly March 19, 2010 at 1:30 am

Great info!

Do you ever feel like your kids get too much parent time? Is that possible?

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nicola March 19, 2010 at 4:07 am

i can't thank you enough for this post/discussion!
nicola
Which Name?

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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:16 am

Thank you Nicola :). It has been great for me as well, and I have learned a ton just from these two series too. Have a great beginning to your weekend

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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:33 am

Thanks Imene :). This has been such a fun series to put together, and I am really glad that it is helping to bring some info on homeschooling. Hope you have a great beginning to your weekend

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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:36 am

That is an awesome question. I actually do feel like some days my kids need a real break from me. This coming year, especially, as Jacob enters in 1st grade, I think that we are going to be looking at some other ways for him to be involved in his community, and a little bit less always having to have mom tag along :)
BTW, I called you last weekend (or the weekend before, I can't remember :). I want to catch-up before you have your little one.
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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:38 am

Oh I am so glad Jennifer. I know that the switch will have it's challenges, but what a great journey to have with your family. I will be anxious to hear how it goes :) Let me know if there is ever anything that you have questions about, I know that everyone is always happy to help
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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:40 am

Thanks Stephanie. I am so glad that you are enjoying it.

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Shivayamama March 19, 2010 at 6:47 am

Thank you Gina, so glad that it is useful :)

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Imene March 19, 2010 at 2:19 am

I am loving these series. They are such a great introduction to homeschooling.
Thank you Heather

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erika March 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm

oops, sorry I missed answering this week. we welcomed our fourth little one saturday, and well, i've been just a little busy. ;)

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angi March 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Thanks for this series, it brings a flood of memories back to me of when I only had small children. My children are now 15, 13, 12, 10, 8 and 10 months. When my older ones were little we were pretty unstructured, our days filled with alot of free, explore your world time. Now that they are teenagers, we've had to get a little more diligent and "inside the box" for high school. Don't get me wrong, they still get to follow their own interests, its just in addition to things like Algebra 2. My younger children are still unstructured. I feel like I'm living in 2 different world, I guess if you add in the baby, it would be 3 different worlds :-).

So, enjoy this time just having little ones. The days are long, but the years are so short.

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Adrie March 19, 2010 at 11:26 pm

So fun to see everyone here. I have to ask (and hope) if you'll join in answering the questions Heather – I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be interested in your answers!

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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:20 am

Um, I can't believe that I have forgotten to share my own story here, twice.
What is wrong with me. I promise to add it in tomorrow
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Shivayamama March 20, 2010 at 2:28 am

Oh my goodness Erika!!!! Congratulations. I am so incredibly happy for you. Enjoy your babymoon
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andy March 22, 2010 at 4:07 am

Heather,
I just read some of the comments and saw that you wrote that your jacob will be entering the first grade… does this mean that your homeschooling will end? Is he entering school? If this is the case, I'm wondering why you decided to go in this direction…
Maybe I read it incorrectly?

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Shivayamama March 22, 2010 at 4:11 am

Oh no, he is staying at home :). I guess that I am just so used to hearing people say it that way, that it just came out in the same way. Nope, my little ones will be with me for a long time to come :)

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