Which Homeschooling Systems Are You Using?

FYI: This was originally posted on Cryptogon.

Homeschooling isn’t an issue for us yet (Owen is just 18 months old), but Becky and I are already on the lookout for worthwhile materials and anecdotes.

Are there any unschooling homeschoolers out there? We have been reading The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith and this makes a lot of sense. One of Owen’s favorite activities is Playcentre. Becky is going through Playcentre’s adult education courses and she’s noticing a lot of unschooling philosophy, which she likes.

Sidenote: I’m blown away by how outstanding Playcentre is. We’re extremely lucky to have that resource here in New Zealand. Owen squeals with joy and points at it, even if we’re just driving by. Sometimes, I take him to the school playground that’s located on the same property and he runs to the closed Playcentre and wants to go there instead of the boring playground. In short, Playcentre is great.

Are there any Waldorf homeschoolers out there?

How about Montessori homeschoolers?

Do you use any of the phonics materials?

One area I’m especially interested in hearing about is music. Becky and I are not musically inclined (this is an understatement), but Owen—how can I state this accurately? The music is just in him.

Owen likes to dance

He wants music all the time. When a CD finishes, he gives us the sign for more, says, “More,” and then the sign for please. He isn’t able to snap his fingers to the beat yet, so he clicks his tongue to it instead. Sometimes, he touches his thumb and pointer finger together in time to the music. He does little dances that are weirdly in sync with the music. The music area at Playcentre is one of his main interests, especially the little electronic keyboard/piano thing.

Anyway, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that we’re going to have to provide some sort of music lessons. How are homeschooling parents teaching music to their kids?

18 Responses to “Which Homeschooling Systems Are You Using?”

  1. Bridget says:

    We’re thinking along similar lines for the education of our 2 year old and baby due in Sept. Haven’t heard much on the grapevine about unschooling, I know a few people keen on the idea of homeschooling, no-one that is currently doing it though.
    Best of luck with your research, hope you get some helpful responses.

  2. Kevin says:

    There are some truly outstanding responses over on that Cryptogon thread.

    There are quite a few Farmlet readers who don’t read Cryptogon, though, so Bex suggested that I post it here as well.

  3. We’re using a public charter school, Ohio Virtual Academy, which is a school-at-home program.

    “The Ohio Virtual Academy uses curriculum and services provided by K¹². Learning can happen at home, on the road, or wherever an Internet connection can be found.”

    Samuel and Wolf got to go with me to Toledo this morning to pick up a pultruded fiberglass window sash and some Buddy Rhodes concrete mix for my ham radio desk. People ask if he’s in school, and I just tell them we home-school, which he’ll be doing this afternoon.


  4. Fiona says:

    Hi, we are Waldorf/Steiner homeschooling and also go to playcentre. A fabulous free resource is the yahoo group waldorfhomeeducators. In the files section there is a kindergarten homeschooling curriculum, crafts, songs etc and more. Great way to investigate Steiner homeschooling without purchasing a curriculum we love it. Steiner/waldorf homeschooling is more than just a form of education it is a great lifestyle!

  5. Annette says:

    We lucked out and found a great woman who teaches lessons. The best part is, she loves my kids despite that they don’t practice. Scales aren’t in them either. We are also very active in attending the Minnesota Orchestra’s student performances and other arts activities. They love it–and get what they want/need despite my lack of musical knowledge.

  6. ltcolonelnemo says:

    I think I asked this on another comment, but, baby-signing? Did you try it, and if so, what results?

  7. Kevin says:

    When I wrote, “he gives us the sign for…” and linked to the book, I thought I was making the point that we are using the baby signs.

    Anyway, we aren’t using that many signs, but a few of them have been helpful, especially as it relates to elimination issues. When we tell people that he almost never does a #2 in his nappie, it strikes some as pretty incredible. And since I usually get to deal with those #2 nappies when they do happen, believe me, it’s great that they’re very rare.

    Some of the frustration that babies experience is due to their lack of the ability to speak to communicate. Signing helps with this.

  8. ltcolonelnemo says:

    Whoops, I didn’t catch that reference.

    So, the baby-signing minimizes dirty diapers. That’s awesome, and is itself, alone, worth the price of the book and the time invested to teach the skill.

    Your son looks to be very strong for his age, not that I know anything about such matters; he also has a very self-aware look in his eye, like he’s already sizing things up.

    I recall from another post you said he likes music; have you tried giving him a keyboard synth to play with?

  9. ltcolonelnemo says:

    Double whoops; the post I referred to is actually this post.

    You might find this anecdote instructive.

    I learned to play several instruments from ages 8-10 and stuck with them through college, although I never mastered any of them. Unfortunately, my education came primarily through playing with various school bands. This is good for learning how to be part of a team, but in order to really master an instrument, one has to spend a lot of time alone with it, playing around, practicing, doing drills, experimenting, researching. This process is highly individualized; there is no one right way up the mountain so to speak.

    My friend, who I consider a far superior musician to myself, never was in any institutionalized bands during his formative years. He took private lessons and learned the basics. He took lessons from a teacher that taught the basics in an order where the lessons built on each other. His instrument was guitar. First, he learned to play individual chords, then he learned transition between chords, then to transition without looking, and then to transition effortlessly without much thought.

    I suppose the best programs are those that gradually build on each other, that allow the student to progress quickly without getting frustrated by the perceived difficulty of the next lesson.

    However, the student must be encouraged to invest the time to learn the instrument. I read that it takes 10,000 hours of work to master anything, including a musical instrument. This shouldn’t be viewed as “work” per se, but a gradual investment that will eventually reap dividends.

    I can also add from my weight-training experience, that the purpose of doing easy exercises is to put yourself in a position to do exercises of a medium difficulty, whose purpose is to put yourself in a position of doing difficult exercises, ultimately which will make you capable of performing extraordinary feats.

    Well, that’s my two cents.

  10. Anonymous NZer says:

    I second ltcolonelnemo, i.e.:

    “…in order to really master an instrument, one has to spend a lot of time alone with it”

    Some of my (10 homeschooled) children have shown some interest in playing a musical instrument.
    However, none of them has been as I was as a youth, i.e. pretty much obsessed – a lot of time alone with it, subscribing to magazines about it, spending hours building one, and so on.

    On the other hand, some of the children have settled into some other activity with great dedication.

    As a parent and homeschooler I am very inclined to give a child all the help I can when I see a real, strong interest developing.
    I can’t always provide a child with help out of my personal knowledge and experience. Luckily, this handicap of mine doesn’t seem to matter. If I can’t show children how to draw I can at least give them pencils and paper.

    Seems to me that if you recognise and respect your child’s interests and talents – especially when they differ from your own interests – you are already giving the child much more than many parents give.

    Also, you have to watch out for wrongly altering a child’s perspective about an interest they have.
    For example, you wouldn’t want your child to end up saying “I used to love music, until my parents showed me it was mainly an opportunity for long hours of study and excerises that I had no interest in…”

  11. Lissie says:

    Hi, I just stumbled upon the blog today & am thrilled to hear you’re looking at homeschooling. We’re unschoolers, our kids are now 16 & 17. Unschooling is an excellent choice if you are already awed at how much a child learns without adult intervention. If you are giddy when your son shows initiative or ‘gets’ something on his own, you are already enjoying unschooling!

    Here’s an excellent site on raising whole children/unschooling. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from it: http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/

    I wish you great joy on this journey, we parents have the chance to make serious changes for the good in this world by the way we raise our kids!

  12. Eden says:

    Hi, The Putumayo Children CDs are excellent. They have radio online you can play to see is Owen likes it. The African Playground one is good. Each CD has great liner notes that you can use to teach about the culture it comes from and the musical style.
    They have really neat learning kits too.

  13. Eden says:

    One more thing…

    I’m 27 years old. I went to Waldorf till grade 2. I loved it! Or so I’m told. Then because my family moved my Mom switched to ‘Life Learning’ as she calls it. This worked well for me, but if you do go for this I think it’s important to get involved in a good homeschool group. We had a theme day every week (India, Africa etc) and had special times where our parents would get people in to teach us certain skills (creative writing, watercolors, plant identification etc). The other thing for me was that for 11 and 12 I went structured. I took correspondence courses from a government run program. Plus this way I could do bio and chem labs in a school and I could take my provincial exams (Canada). This helped me to get into the schools I would want. I know other people that took testing after they home schooled grade 12 so they could get into university, it seemed harder then the route I took. I have noticed this is getting easier as more people homeschool. I have had success in post-secondary and have heard other home schooled kids say the same thing. We are better equipped to do actual homework after our classes. The only trouble a lot of us have and we catch on quick is taking lecture notes. I now sell my notes to my school for extra cash. And yes I am still in school.
    My Partner and I don’t have kids yet, but we talk about Montessori being one of our top options.

  14. Lauren says:

    We’re moving to Whangaroa/Kaeo surrounds in the next couple of months (after I have baby #4) for lifestyle reasons (definitely not for the $!).

    Our oldest is four years old, so we’re just starting out on our schooling journey. After a lot of reading, we’ve definitely decided to homeschool — although I’ve noticed that Kiwis call it home-educating.

    We’re leaning towards unschooling though I have amassed a HUGE library of children’s books for the girls to learn from.

    I really recommend John Holt’s books for analyses of how children learn and how institutions have appropriated the “patents” on teaching so as a Western society we no longer expect people to be “educated” apart from an institution!
    I don’t know what the libraries are like near you, but perhaps you can request John Holt’s books through an inter-library loan.

    And I would love to meet you when we get there in the new year!

  15. clare says:

    Hi Kevin and Rebecca,
    It’s Clare here from Honeymoon Valley. I met you guys at Pc. Well I stumbled across your site as I was looking at Steiner resources. Neat to see what you are doing at home and with your lovely boy. We are homeschooling now and as you know I am a trained teacher too. I am having to unschool myself as I go and am loving educating my children in the home environment. I belong to the Far North Homeschoolers group if you would like more info. Many have preschoolers too. I am also very interested in finding out more about unschooling and steiner education. I have a friend here that is a trained steiner teacher, and one in auckland with children at the steiner school.
    Another thing I am thinking of doing is approaching a friend who is a music teacher to take a special class for my children, and maybe more preschoolers. Lessons normally start at age 7.
    Feel free to give me a call. Susan and si have my number or email me back
    Keep up the great and inspiring mahi 🙂
    Arohanui, Clare

  16. wendy says:

    i have been homeschooling my b/g twins for 6 months now and its the best choice i have ever made.they were very prem so are considered behind. but there full term cousin who is 2 weeks older than them and goes to school and has 4 older siblings(from which to learn from)is way behind.beause of the one on one i can over my kids they know there alphabet there letter sounds, word families like AT fat, cat,rat AN pan, can,ran,most of the dolch words up to grade 3.all you need to start with is an alphabet and number chart.use them like bingo cards.once they learn the alphabet words seem to come quite easily.TEACH A TOT is really good and can be used in so many ways.my kids have both dislexia and dyspraxia and are coming along so well. if they were in school stuff in a class with over 20 other kids they wouldnt know anything.everything i have tought my kids is the basics. Alphabet, colours, opposites, shapes, word families, just the simple basic stuff they need to know.

  17. M S says:

    I know it’s years later, but your son is still young, and you have a new baby (congratulations!).

    If you speak a language fluently (and I’m assuming you do speak English as well as writing it), then you probably have much of what you need to help your sons with music.

    1. Sing with them. It’s OK if you’re not in tune all the time; being in tune will happen more and more, the more you sing. If they see you singing, and enjoying it, they’ll learn to.

    2. Play percussion instruments while you sing, on your own and with the kids.

    3. If you know anyone who genuinely enjoys your sons’ company and who plays an instrument at all, ask them if they’d be willing to do some lessons. Ukulele is a great kids’ instrument for five-year-olds and over, and all one really needs to get started is a chord chart and a uke.