When people ask casually about homeschooling and how it works for us, I tend to keep it simple and somewhat vague. "We utilize a wide variety of resources," or, "We can tailor learning opportunities for each child's ability and interests," or even, "It's going great! It works well for us." I don't launch into ideas about radical unschooling or talk specifically about how differently our days are structured compared to schooled children. Usually, I'll mention something interesting that we've done recently whether it's a field trip with a homeschooling group or a current interest of one of my children. "Camille enjoys playing the saxophone and is learning a computer programming language. I love being able to support her interests," or, "Sylvia loves learning about dinosaurs and really enjoys science experiments."
Some things we do look 'educational' and some things might look like 'just fun', but it's not a distinction that's very useful to our days. A day of sledding and rolling down hills in the snow can prompt lots of discussion about friction and velocity and momentum and the physics of an inclined plane. Which of our three sleds is the fastest? Why (shape, surface texture, etc.)? Do you go faster on your own or if you ride together with your sister? What about if I ride with both of you? How does our weight (mass) affect our speed? What about the texture of the snow (powdery, compacted, wet, iced over)? We don't talk about these things because it's our science lesson of the day or a 'teachable moment', but because they're natural questions that come up when we're having fun with the sun on our faces and the cold wind on our cheeks.
I jotted down some of the activities that came up in the natural course of my kids' days over the last week. Here's some of those things: a trip to the library for picture books, Little House on the Prairie, Choose Your own Adventure books, audio books (Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, and Sisters Grimm series), and DVDs (ranging from several Bill Nye, the Science Guy episodes to Hip Hop Cardio Workouts), thrift store shopping, sprouting wheatgrass, drawing/coloring/painting/cutting/gluing, knitting and finger knitting, playing saxophone, playing dress-up/makeover/fashion show, sledding, snowy hikes and a very cold picnic, baking bread from scratch (wholegrain fry bread, dark rye with caraway seeds, and gluten-free), rehearsing songs for a variety show, attending a Girl Scout meeting and sledding with friends, watching TV episodes and documentaries on Netflix, playing computer and Wii games, doing yoga, taking a science quiz for fun, playing on BrainPOP, reading aloud, cooking and watching cooking shows, sprouting chickpeas and planting some in a pot to see how they'll grow, making rubberband bracelets, solving the puzzles in Puzzle Buzz and Mathmania magazines, bringing food and water to the chickens, gathering eggs and firewood, helping with some of the cooking, cleaning, and dishes, browsing seed catalogs, garden planning/dreaming, snuggling, wrestling, weaving on a small loom, making and playing with playdough, solving math problems in Life of Fred book, watching dragonfly tv episodes, riding scooters, skateboards, and rollerskates in the living room, dancing, some light squabbling, fort building and mess making, and creating letters with their bodies.
This blog post has been brought to you by the letters B, F, and S for best friend sisters.
It may not look much like what people envision when they picture homeschooling, but because I can see the learning, the joy, and the relationships flourish, I can confidently say it works well for us.