We home educate/home school our children. Okay, so Dino Girl is only 2.5, but I include her in this because for us, home schooling is part of our family life, it is as much a lifestyle choice as anything.
(I intend to do a ‘Why’ post at some point, just because people always seem interested, but for the moment, this is mainly a ‘How’ post)
In Switzerland, all 26 cantons have differing education laws. Home education is included in this. In some cantons it is illegal, in some you have to be a qualified teacher, but in our canton, which is probably the most liberal of the lot, we are free to home educate as we wish, just having to have a yearly inspection. We had our first one in November, and passed, no problem. (She talked to us about our approach, and asked Lego Boy to show her some work. She was only really interested in the few workbooks he’d done, rather than the more interesting (to us and him) projects, which to us gave us a good indication of the departments attitude to home ed.)
A friend once explained our approach as eclectic. I think this is a good description. We don’t follow a curriculum. We aren’t very structured, but we aren’t completely unstructured either. We don’t unschool, although I think if we lived somewhere, like the UK, where there are no inspections, then we would explore unschooling more.
Since moving house we have a dedicated room to work in. The benefits of this are that everything is contained in one space, and I don’t have to constantly clear the dining table to eat every day. Of course we are not restricted to this room; we read in bed, craft normally happens in the warmer months in the conservatory or outside (easier to clean up) and we are often out and about.
Lego Boy seems to prefer structure in terms of knowing when we are going to start every day (normally 9am, but sometimes earlier if we are ready) but we have no fixed timetable for when we do things. Normally the night before I will write a list of things we are going to do on top of the chest of drawers and each drawer contains the items needed for that task (books, paper, etc).
How do I decide what we are going to do? I consider what we did that day, what projects are ongoing, if Lego Boy has shown an interest in something new recently, and then we also have the basics too. We live in the French speaking part of Switzerland, so although we don’t teach in French, it is important that Lego Boy is able to converse and work in French particularly if he decides to go to school at any time. The inspector is only really interested in French, Maths and German for the swiss and people here long term. He doesn’t have to start learning German until next year (and we’re lucky that The Hub is fluent in German and works in the German speaking part of Switzerland), and Lego Boy seems to take after both his parents when it comes to Maths, even though he doesn’t believe he is any good at it (no idea where that came from). So its just the French. He has a French teacher for an hour a week, and she focusses mainly on grammar and pronunciation. With me, he does reading, spelling and all other general French stuff (French teaching (for native speakers) seems to be very ‘old school’ here, with lots of focus on grammar, hand writing and copywork).
As an example, this is what we have planned for today.
French spelling, English spelling (using Montessori reading word lists), reading aloud his French book Pit Le Pingouin, Life of Fred (a series of Maths story books based on Maths in life), making a cuneiform tablet, reading a chapter of The Story of the World history book, working on his Pets project for a presentation to our homeschool group, and continuing to read The Hobbit, which he is really enjoying and we will probably do a project about when he has finished it.
This will be done in about 2 hours, and then he is free to play and do as he chooses.
He also goes to a yoga class, has theatre group, goes iceskating with friends, is part of an English homeschool group, goes on trips with a youth group, goes skiing with The Hub at weekends, and has regular playdates with friends and neighbours. He has a social life that I am envious of!
And now, as it is past 9am (and I have already lost a draft of this blog post) we need to get to it. We can’t have him slacking now, can we? 😉