Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Not Back to School

On this, the traditional first day of school for lots of kids and moms in our country, here at Wonderwood Academy we began our fourth week of not-going-to-public-school-again-this 2005-06 year. Let me first say a hearty “We truly DON’T believe homeschooling is right for all families.” And let me assure any and all friends or family who are as excited about their kids’ public-school experiences as we are about ours at home that we still love you forever. ;o)

We choose to homeschool pretty much on a year-round schedule. We LOVE the flexibility that allows us to take breaks when WE need them. It’s mighty nice to be able to take vacations during the peaceful (and yes, usually much less crowded) “OFF” season. And yes, we manage to provide “socialization” opportunities for the Woodyettes even with our crowd-avoiding preferences. We homeschool for lots of reasons, and we made the choice to do so even before Jelly Woodyette was born. I’ll leave that for another blog.

Today, though, was a near-perfect example of WHY homeschooling is right for us. We didn’t go on a spectacular field trip, we didn’t discover that one of the Woodyettes is a child prodigy, but we DID have a marvelous time learning TOGETHER.

I LOVE unit studies!

When we began our homeschool adventure during Jelly’s preschool years, my tendency as a “retired” public school teacher was to do “school at home.” I think most parents would agree that they “homeschool” beginning the day their first child is born, so counting that way, we’ve been homeschooling now for over eight years. The state of California only gives us credit beginning with 1st grade. (A bit ironic with all the hoop-la about Universal Preschool, but that is definitely for another blog!) Anyway, MY accounting says that since Jelly is beginning 3rd grade, and we did both Pre-K 3 and 4 before Kindergarten, we are now beginning our sixth year of “official” homeschooling. All that to say that my thoughts about HOW to do it has changed at LEAST twice a year, and if you do the math (aw, go ahead!) that makes 12 times – an even dozen! I’m sure we’ll continue to make changes as the girls grow and gain more ability to take charge of their learning, but I’m also sure that some form of unit studies will always be part of our adventures.

For social studies this year, we are focusing on the history and geography of our own country. The afternoon train departed for the first official state – Delaware. After a notebooking experience documenting our research of basic facts (location, state capital, state tree, state flower, state bird, state song, state motto, state… well, you get the idea), we took a side trip to practice counting and learning the word for apple in Spanish as we did a dot-to-dot of, naturally, an apple (a product of Delaware) and then another side trip to the Air Mobile Command (in Delaware). The AMC is a really awesome outdoor museum where you can see aircraft of all kinds. We, of course, did our tour virtually. The hands-on part was making, decorating (with a red, white, and blue patriotic theme) and then test-flying a paper airplane! We had the coolest discussion about pilots and what they need to know, what they have to be able to do, and even that they sometimes name their planes after their favorite girl! The test flights were a great success. The girls’ planes weren’t great for distance, but wonderful for acrobatics! As far as I was concerned, that was the end of school for today, but the Woodyettes were not finished. “Mama, be the band! We’re gonna do a parade!” So I oompahed a variation on Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever as they marched, danced, and tumbled around with their airplanes. It didn’t take long for a “float” to be constructed so that the parade would keep the watcher cheering!

My oompah gave out long before they did!

If I’d been thinking, I’d have gotten out a CD of marches and the parade would probably still be passing me by! ;o)


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