Friday, May 31, 2013

Philosophy on Education

For my friends and readers who are pondering the education of their children:

As our children are young I believe it is important for us as parents to discover our own philosophy on education.  As a licensed teacher I've had the opportunity to explore many different teaching philosophies and fine tune my own ideas through years of schooling, teaching in public schools, raising small children, teaching preschool and homeschooling.

I currently organize a group of moms who all believe in being intentional in their parenting.  The education of their children is a top priority.  I consider it my "homeschooling group" although many of the parents don't home school their children in the "formal" definition of homeschooling.  I do believe that ALL parents home school their children even if they attend a formal school.  All children are learning from the get go and continue learning even outside formal school hours.  As parents, we are the most important educator of our own children.

For the families that are thinking about education for their children it is never too early to start intentionally discovering what it is that you want for your children and more importantly HOW you intend to facilitate that.

As you consider what form of schooling you'll expose your child to it is important for you to know what you value in education. Also consider the style of education you'd like for your child.  What is it that you want them to come away with?  What do you want them to know or be able to do? It is not only what your child will do but how they will do it.  How does your child learn best?  What goals do you have for your child?  It is important to learn what choices are available to you.  Different schools offer different types of teaching style, content and learning opportunities.  Is it a school you want for your child or a way of life?  Is having a teacher that only fills the role of "teacher" at the "school" important or can the teacher be yourself or a good friend?  If homeschooling is on the horizon what types of support can you build for your family that support your beliefs and desires?

Keep in mind there is no "right" answer and your opinions will change over time as you're exposed to new experiences in life. No one cares more about your child's welfare than you do.  You know your child's personality, strengths and weaknesses.  You know the interests that light up your child's eyes.  You know the values that your family wants respected in education.

I'd encourage you to ponder these things in your heart and talk about your views with family and friends that will help you nail down what you value in education.

My two bits (aka: my philosophy on education)...
Feel free to read the "About Us" page to learn a bit more about my philosophy on education.

I am homeschooling my two boys.  Sometimes I feel funny saying that because my oldest is only 4.  How can I really be homeschooling?  Well, quite honestly I always answer that question with a question. Who decided that you don't start learning until you're 5 years old or older?

I have been homeschooling my boys since birth.  We play games and explore the world together.  I am an advocate of intentionally parenting and providing children with undivided attention and treasures of information along the way.

I started a play group that ran successfully for a few years before we outgrew it. I ran a play date that I called "Little Learners" that was an opportunity for families to come over and explore different experiences based on a theme that I'd developed a lesson plan for.  I provided all the tools and the instruction to facilitate the parents in teaching their children.  Little Learners was extremely well attended.  Parents started asking if I'd teach their children through the preschool years to prepare them for their school years ahead.  That's when Little Adventures Preschool started.  Our formal preschool classes are a stepping stone for families into the education world.  I'm developing curriculum that I'd be doing with my boys regardless but for these few years we'll do it together with friends.  This fall our 3-5 year old preschool class will also host the parents for the last 15 minutes of each class to give us the opportunity to teach our parents what we learned and how they can expand on that learning at home.  I'm so excited for this new technique to get parents involved in their child's education.

My educational philosophy follows these ideals:

  • Children are ready to learn different concepts at varying ages.  I will always teach students at the level they are at rather than a level that any formal test says they need to be at.
  • When they're ready, children can learn the basics of reading and math.
  • While young and learning about life, I follow a more traditional teaching style.  The teacher is the boss.  The teacher creates lesson plans and researches the next steps for each child according to their needs.
  • After a child has learned the basics of reading and math a more scaffolded approach to teaching will naturally occur.  This means that the child will take more and more responsibility for their own education.  Education will become more theme or topic based.  Themes and topics will be chosen by the children.  We use encyclopedias to pick through topics that we're interested in learning more about.
  • As children grow older we'll merge more into an informal eclectic/natural learning/unschooling approach to education.  We will treat the whole world as our classroom and learn through play, reading and interaction with family and community.  Textbooks will be regarded as reference materials for self directed study and classes/experiences in the community will round out our education.      

I believe that we can teach our children to be active learners.  We can discover together how they learn best and facilitate that style of learning. Education is about the student.  Consider who your student(s) is(are) and what you can do to create the best learning environment for them. Maybe homeschooling is for you, maybe it's not.  There is no right or wrong.

To me, teaching and learning are exhilarating.  I never feel more energized than after a class that has gone well or when a teachable moment was seized and we've learned something new or explored a path that was previously not taken.  Isn't that love of learning something we want to pass on to our children?

Please swing by and vote for Little Adventures Preschool, we're holding spot #6 right now and I'd love your support.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Top Ten! - A Year in Review

We finished up a fantastic school year last week.  Right after our end of year celebrations I took the boys and headed to Utah for Memorial Day weekend.  That's where my family all lives and it was great to get away for a few days.  Thinking back on the school year I wanted to to a TOP TEN post of my favorite blog posts.  Did you have a favorite day or post?  Let me know.  Here our my top ten favorite blog posts:

Animal Friends - Tot School Thursday (9.20.2013)  Remember way back in September when we were outside every day?  I loved this Animal Friends Tot Pack and we had a blast dressing up like animals, playing with animal toys and even painting and making egg carton ants to learn the letter A.

Bubbles - Tot School Tuesday (10.9.12)  What's better than learning the letter B by popping bubbles, painting bubbles, and making bubbles all day long?  We had so much fun exploring the different bubbles and playing with the Bubbles Tot Pack.

Scarecrows - Preschool (11.14.12) We were on a roll in November learning new letters all of the time and beginning to read.  It is so fun to go back and flip through the year to see the progression of learning.  We made fun art projects, read with the scarecrow, and were starting to learn to categorize objects in Preschool A.  Preschool B was learning their first set of 25 sight words and picking up the idea of reading quickly with Bob Books. Be sure to check out the awesome Tot School Scarecrows day as well.

Polar Express - Tot School Tuesday (12.11.12)  Who doesn't love coming to school in their pajamas?  We LOVED Polar Express day, playing with trains and bells and listening to the story. We were talking a little bit about graphing in our Polar Express Tot Pack (an introductory and very hands-on for the adult type lesson).

Dancing Dinosaurs - Tot School Thursday (1.31.13) Playing with the dinosaurs in the grits and cornmeal sensory bin was a great way to start the day.  We had so much fun playing with the Dancing Dinosaurs tot pack, the dinosaur skeletons and the hand puppets.  We also played with the letter D on on the SmartBoard. The kids were all growing and learning and so happy to be exploring their world around them.

Valentines Day - Preschool B (2.13.2013) It just keeps amazing me at how much toddlers and preschoolers learn in such a small amount of time.  Preschool B kids came in August with a need to review and learn a few letters of the alphabet.  Then by February they are reading books and working on learning more advanced phonics such as digraphs (th, sh, etc.).  They're still kids who love art and playing in the sensory bins and taking on challenges like tic-tac-toe.  Awe, man.  I love these kids :)

Wheels - Tot School Tuesday (2.19.13) I feel silly every time I say "Today was one of my favorite days ever!" because that happens ALL.THE.TIME.  No joke.  Wheels day was awesome.  We played with everything that had wheels - including construction trucks and a bucket of soil.  We explored the Wheels Tot Pack and even gave our cars a bath in shaving cream.  I really enjoy doing these types of activities because quite often parents don't want to let their home get extremely messy (and I don't blame them) but giving kids the opportunity to explore their world sometimes gets messy and I love to give them that chance.

St. Patrick's Day - Preschool A (3.13.13)  For St. Patrick's Day we got to play a more advanced version of Hop Along the Path.  Each child got a die, rolled it, then jumped that many spaces.  We were really working on our one-to-one correspondence with that game.  We had a blast with art, practicing our reading and music skills on the piano as well as exploring 3D shapes.  Can you believe how much these preschoolers had learned?

Rain, Rainbows, Mud and Worms - Preschool (4.29.13) - Tuesday Tot School (5.14.13) - Thursday Tot School (5.16.13)  I love Mud and Worms day.  It's a great experience to hold worms and squish in the mud.  Most of the kids love it as well.  I was so sad this year that we had to keep postponing it.  I'm glad we finally got it in!

Z is for Zoo - Tot School Thursday (4.25.13) It's nice when we can finally go outside again in the spring time.  Learning about letter Z outside with all the zoo animal games and activities was so much fun.  Toddlers are at the age where they are beginning to get into dramatic play and acting like animals.  They're exploring books and scissors and love painting.

These kids make me smile every day and looking back on all these fun times makes me smile and miss them all so much.  I hope everyone is having a great summer.  Be sure to check out the blog in a few days for the post about the summer tot packs and preschool packs I'll be using with my boys.