We are still home schooling with no plans to change that at this point. Our year has gone pretty well although it's been in fits and starts. I don't really mind that too much for kids this young. Eric and I have both endlessly researched various approaches to home education and we feel drawn pretty strongly towards a classical approach in terms of what the kids will study. But we also find that a lot of what "unschoolers" say really resonates with us--especially for young children. Five and six-year-olds, it turns out, will pretty readily gobble up whatever they can get their hands on in a pretty self-motivated way and so much learning is going on just through living a rich life on a daily basis. While we definitely have set math and reading work we do for Joseph, I tend not to fret too much if he spends several days in a row absorbed in various books and doesn't crack open his math.
We gave a lot of thought to "grade level" at the start of this year. In lots of states Joseph would be in kindergarten this year and in other states he would be in first grade. We decided to err on the side of not rushing things so we've called him a kindergartner this year though he is definitely doing first or second grade work in some areas. The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can do different grade levels for different subjects. Joseph's abilities don't tend to match his desires, however. He is not eager about formal schooling even though he can easily complete his work when I make him do it. That's another reason I opted to err on the young side with regard to grade level. He likes to be really confident with a skill before diving in and I thought it best for him to feel good about his reading and writing ability before starting in on a classical first grade program.
Margaret has always come along for the ride with regard to school and this year I got her a preschool workbook so she'd have something fun to do while I worked with Joseph. She also demanded reading lessons. I was hesitant to start because Joseph got really frustrated as a four-year old with reading. But Margaret took to it pretty quickly and is blasting through the curriculum. She also outgrew her preschool workbook and the kindergarten one I got her as a sequel is also much too easy for her. Her mind isn't quite the information sponge Joseph's seems to be but she has a lot of initiative and is doing well with reading and writing. I think we'll end up calling Margaret a kindergartner next year and the two kids will do a lot of the more "humanities" type work together as they progress through their education.
We've had a really fun addition to our home education recently. My friend Robyn who lives in Brooklyn decided to pull her kindergartner out of school and finish up the year at home just before Christmas. We've been getting together once a week ever since to do short activities together--mostly science-type stuff, although I tried out some music with the kids last week--and for some playtime for the kids (and, honestly, for Robyn and I!). Joseph and Andrew have always been great friends and it's fun for Joseph to have a friend over every week. William is a huge fan of Robyn's younger son, Isaac (they both share a deep passion for trains) and Margaret is a huge fan of Robyn herself. So it's a great part of the week for everyone and I secretly hope that Robyn home schools her kids for the next twelve years so we can continue the play dates ;)
The pictures in today's post are courtesy of Robyn. I think Gregory is one week old--Robyn has a real thing for capturing crying babies. Enjoy!