Hooligan Zoo

Two Zookeepers… many Hooligans… It's always feeding time at this zoo!


on May 14, 2009

It’s funny how when I started thinking about home educating our hooligans, that it was such a daunting task.  I would have to be so ORGANIZED, and I would need CURRICULUM, and we would be SCHEDULED.  When Zi was just 3 or so, I started hard core…  Sat her and Ephraim down at the table, they would do math, darn it, and they would like it!


That didn’t work out so well.  You know when they started really moving forward and picking up things?  When I backed way off and just let them BE.

We baked cookies, we played in the dirt.  We read books, soooo many books…  we built things with blocks, we planted things in the garden.  We LIVED.

Fast forward to this fall… we’ll say around September.  Ja and I were in pretty rough shape what with the litany of things that had happened to us.  Homeschool was on the back burner and survival was the theme of the day.

There was a six month period where we didn’t do any formal schooling.  At least not in the traditional sense.  In that time where there were no phonics lessons, no sitting down with the workbooks, no spelling drills, nothing like that, Keyzia learned to read.  And she learned to read WELL.

I already can’t keep her in chapter books.  She started out by loving to read Beatrix Potter by herself.  Then she moved onto Junie B. Jones.  We bought her her own “real words” bible for her birthday, and she reads it all the time on her own.

It’s a good lesson for me, I think, that when things were so emotionally turbulent, when I felt the most out of control, THAT is when she learned this integral skill.  It didn’t take hours of drilling “a says a, a says a!”  it was as simple as us reading to her.

I’m just now feeling like I’m getting into the groove with home educating the hooligans.  A good friend of mine directed me to a free curriculum called Ambleside Online, a curriculum based on Charlotte Mason and the way she taught her schools.

I can’t say enough good things about Ambleside Online or Charlotte Mason!  Someone once told me that you should choose a curriculum that YOU love, because YOU are the one teaching it.  That if you love to teach it, then it’s easier to follow through with it.  As soon as I started researching and learning about Charlotte Mason, I absolutely knew that God had put it there just for us.

Just a wee bit about what we do.  This is a literature based curriculum, which means there is a LOT of reading.  I was originally very interested in Sonlight curriculum, but the sheer cost of it was going to make it not possible for our family.  Ambleside Online is free.  You can find most of the books that they suggest you use either printed free online or at your local library.  That being said, because we love books so much, we did purchase the majority for Zi for her Year 1 study.

It’s about children being people.  Being smart, talented and interesting people.  It’s about not dumbing things down for them, about allowing them to experience rather than just read about.  It’s about spending as much time outside as possible.  About giving them as many different subjects as they can handle.  It’s about God, literature, music, history, geography, you name it.  We learn all of these things through stories and through experience.

We’ve read Shakespeare.  We read poetry every day.  We read books about birds, and then we look for birds… or, we may see a new bird, and the kids tear into the house to look it up in the bird book.  We do math with manipulatives, we draw what we see.  We go on nature walks.  And still?  We bake, we garden, we play with play dough, we build things.

I truly believe that our children quite often live up to what we expect of them.  If we expect them to fail, they will fail.  If we expect them to succeed, to read well, to understand, then they will.

The one huge thing that I have learned over the past few months in regard to home education is that doing school at home is not going to work for us.  If I wanted them to have that format, we might as well enroll them in the local public school tomorrow.

In all of the trials and tribulations that the Lord has put in our path as a family, this is the one thing that I’m sure of.  Teaching the hooligans at home is the ONE right thing that we are doing.  At least the one right thing that I’m sure about.

Stay tuned for a little bit more about Charlotte Mason and her teaching techniques.  I’ve also been reading a bit by John Holt, which is absolutely fascinating.


One response to “Edumacation

  1. Hi! Coming here from the new message board–I just pmed you there about my own “hooligans.” I hope AO is a great fit for you and your daughter this year!

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