What We Really Do In Our Homeschool: 7 Quick Takes

Home Ec.
Homeschooling makes room for many unexpected things to happen. For example, my teenage son (who formerly wouldn't boil himself a hotdog) is now exploring the great big world of culinary adventure. This was not an assignment I gave but the result of watching The Food Network at the relatives house once to many times. I thought about pouring a little cold water on the fire but I figured this is one life lesson that won't go to waste.

This is a photo of last week's meal complete with a bottle of sparkling grape juice he found in the basement. It was a spicy roast on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes... and for lunch, no less. I'm thinking I like this academic tangent...

Yesterday he made beef sausage after requesting fennel seed from the store. I didn't even know what fennel seed was. Now I do. Delicious.

RC History.
I've spent over a decade trying to find a history program that I love. Not only have I found it but the kids love it... and that makes all the difference. More on this another time because I just can't do my enthusiasm justice here in a Quick Takes.

RC History rocks. We have made it the core of school day.


Listening to Books.
One of the kids' favorite things to do. We have a small collection of literature on CD and I far prefer this activity to DVD watching. Much better for the developing young mind. They particularly enjoy the productions by Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre with the Chronicles of Narnia set taking the top spot.

Wrong Answers.
One of the single most important concepts that I have picked up as a home educator is something I found in the writings of John Holt. I'm going to paraphrase since I don't own the particular book yet:

Wrong answers are often more important to learning than right answers. 

If you haven't read How Children Fail by John Holt, you should. I don't ascribe to everything he wrote but this one book changed the way I thought about my children, my homeschool, and my own education. Do you have an intelligent child who freezes like a deer in the headlights when you ask her a simple academic question? Read the book.

Our American institutional school culture is so fixated on right answers that it shames children who get anything wrong. But a wrong answer is a critical part of the learning process. For example, let's look at a basic math test:  Any parent would like to see all right answers on our child's page but it is the wrong answer which tells us the concepts the child has not yet learned. We tend to look at that wrong answer as a problem when in fact, it is a blessing. It's not a tragedy when the kid bombs a test but an opportunity to make sure he knows the material. I don't know any parent who is all about let's just push the kid through regardless of whether he grasps the material. So embrace the wrong answers, eh?

Children can become so afraid of that wrong answer that they will do anything to avoid it. They will learn to "get by" by focusing on the outcome rather than the process. This is one reason cheating is rampant and cramming is the preferred method of study.

I started out our homeschooling adventures by inadvertently teaching my children to fear wrong answers. Now I am trying to turn that around by teaching them to love the process of learning. One approach has been far more productive than the other. Guess which one?

Pass the Baby.
Yes, this is a very important part of our homeschool. We're growing little people here. We're developing relationships and learning to love well. The kids learn to give of themselves and sacrifice for the sake of another. There is no school subject that is more important than people...

College Transcripts.
We revisited the college application process and noted that at least one school Professor is interested in requests a comprehensive book list. They want to know every book that the boy has read in his high school career. This would be far easier if they wanted to know what books he hasn't read. I had him set aside an hour to work on this project yesterday and he laughed. How am I supposed to do that? Because he literally reads at least a book a day and usually multiple at a time. Somewhere along the line he must have picked up speed reading techniques. I have accused him of skimming in the past only to have to  apologize when he proves that he has retained what he has read. 

Has anyone gone through this process and is it really okay to list hundreds and hundreds of books? I'm tempted to list authors and just write underneath: Entire collection of works.

Truth be told, we're running a bit of a loose schedule. Two to four times a week we have work being done sometime during the day on our kitchen. School books are set aside and the kids end up learning a great deal about electrical work, plumbing, measuring, etc. It's just really hard to study through the sound of a sawzall.

The great thing about homeschooling is that more gets done in less time. So these interruptions are not only cool in and of themselves, but we're still getting our work done.

*Bonus Quick Take*
My kids are supposed to be doing their work. Somehow, I don't recall assigning them the task of gathering upstairs and carrying on like a bunch of wild indians. It sounds like they're having fun though. My guess is that it's a chess game run amok. They do play chess with each other when I'm not looking. Should I be upset? 

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes

Posted on September 27, 2013 and filed under "7 quick takes".