19 December 2011

What Really Matters

I mentioned at the end of my post about friends that beyond being excited about learning and treating other kindly, there's not a whole lot I think my children need to grasp right now. (Granted, they are currently 5, 3, and 1.)

And don't get me wrong, we do "study" things in our home kindergarten and even have an "agenda" that we follow, sort of. But it's mostly for fun and because Agent E enjoys it, not because I think if she doesn't know how to do certain things by a certain age she will be woefully behind. 
Mmm . . . DVD
But still, I can't help but think about what I "should" be doing with her in the future. I guess the big looming question when it comes to our homeschooling going forward would be: What do my kids need to know? 

I'm trying to think big picture here . . . that whole "begin with the end in mind" thing. As we wrap up our first semester and plan our next, I'm looking ahead to one, five, ten years down the road. What would I like to see my "graduates" doing?

(I should probably note here I am intentionally leaving life skills studies off this list . . . a separate post coming soon.)

As a writer and lover of books, this is at the top of the list for Momma. When you know how to read, you can research anything you want on your own. Without getting too philosophicrazy, it truly does open doors to new worlds and new experiences. I would include here comprehension skills, a good working vocabulary, and the ability to think critically about what is read/researched. For writing, I want them to be able to use written language well, including but not limited to crafting a persuasive or creative written work, understanding and using grammar/punctuation correctly, and knowing how to spell. (Oh, and I also expect good handwriting skills and yes, I will teach them cursive writing.)

Beyond foundational math skills, I'm really not so sure on this one. A working knowledge of the basics, simple algebra, practical geometry, and how numbers lie statistics is important. However, I think I would allow their own interests in the subject to determine how much we delve into higher math. (Do you remember being totally stressed out in high school calculus class? Do you ever use it? Was it worth it?)

Here again, I think it's important to have a broad knowledge of the basics, and we will include introductions to biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, earth science, geology, etc. etc. etc. However, as with mathematics, I will let their interests guide what we choose to pursue further and what receives the most attention.

I list these together because I think their connection is so important. I also feel this is where the educational system failed me. Knowing the history/government of your own country, as well as having a solid grasp on world history and geography, is critical for being able to think globally and truly be a "world" citizen. When I first considered homeschooling I listed this as one of the primary educational and life goals for the Agents.

We will introduce foreign languages from the get-go. This year we did Italian, only because we live here and not because it's a particularly useful language to know in the grand scheme of things. Next year we plan to do Spanish, and after that maybe French. While I hope that someday each of the Agents will decide on their own to pursue more in depth knowledge of a specific language or languages, for now our studies are pretty general and mostly about fun vocabulary, a few useful verbs, and conversational pleasantries (which is about where my Italian skills end).

So these are some things I keep in mind as I plan for our 2012 "school" year. As with everything else in this process, it is subject to change. :-) Question for you now, dear reader: What would you add? What would you delete? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Photo break while unwrapping presents

1 comment:

  1. Music!! It is so good for developing brains, creativity, movement, enhancing maths... seriously, you have to get over any hang-ups you have about your own abilities in this area and sing with them, dance with them, get them making sounds other than talking.

    Here are a few resources for you...

    This is a blog post aimed at childcare workers with large groups, but there are plenty of tips:

    Facebook page to help you- Alec is delightful and can probably give you some ideas:

    Another blog post with some songs as well as tips on keeping lively kids engaged in some sit-down time:

    Whatever you do, don't forget to laugh with them. It's the best single aid to memory I know.