Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Setting off on a new journey!

Welcome to my new blog! I'm hoping to document my journey in homeschooling with my daughter! We haven't "officially" started (M is not quite 3), but I plan to use this blog to keep track of ideas, track our progress, and see what work and what doesn't for us.

A little background information about me:

I have always been interested in learning. I loved school - math, science, English, I loved it all (well, maybe not history so much, but we'll tackle that later). I was very successful in school, and I believe I owe a lot of that to my parents. They had high expectations, but I never found them to be pushy about school. They both love to learn, and passed on that excitement to me, and I will be forever grateful for that.

After high school, I moved South and attended Clemson University. I started with a major in Biosystems Engineering. After completing two years and a summer internship, I decided that engineering just wasn't for me. I switched my major, and after a great internship in Washington, DC with the National Association of Conservation Districts, I graduated with a degree in Biological Sciences. After college, I worked as a Project Coordinator for a local nonprofit dedicated to conserving land and developing a nature park. Through this position I became more interested in environmental education, and after two years I left my job to pursue a teaching career. I received my teaching certification for secondary science, and just finished my 5th year teaching high school science. I can truly say that I have no regrets about my decision to teach - I learned so much about myself and about the educational system in the past five years. I also learned that I would prefer something completely different for my daughter!

Over the past five years, I have taught two engineering courses, biology, physical science, and freshman success. I have taught a wide variety of students - those who received college credit for passing challenging engineering classes, and those who could barely read and write. The hardest part of teaching was seeing how little interest students had in what they were learning. And who could blame them? Even when I spent hours (as I often did) attempting to plan exciting and engaging ways to present the material, I was still teaching material that the state decided I must teach, not material that the students wanted to learn. By the time they reached me, most of my students were bored with school. 

This is not the experience I want for my daughter. She is so curious, so interested in the world around her. I don't want her to lose that! I have complete faith that she will learn everything she needs to learn by exploring and discovering what interests her. As I continue to research, read books, and explore various blogs, I am drawn to the idea of unschooling or child-led / interest-based learning. Especially in this age of technology, I feel like it is so much more important to learn about the world and to foster the creativity and love of learning in my child, than it is to teach any specific content. I can learn almost anything I want online - either by reading, watching videos, or finding a mentor to help me. I can only imagine that my daughter will be able to do the same - and so much more- when she is older. Why not let her learn at her own pace? Learn what she wants when she is ready to learn it?

Over the next several months, I plan to try different activities and methods of "teaching" to see what works best for our family. I will follow my daughter's interests to choose topics and themes for our learning adventures. While our focus will be on playing and having fun, I will try to incorporate learning skills into many of our activities. Each week I will post a tentative plan for the week based on the chosen theme and categorize the activities by subject area (reading, math, world around us - science and social studies, art, music, and fitness). Throughout the week I will post updates based on what we actually did. 

I hope you'll join us on our journey!

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