Today was a quiet day. Seven of the children were gone in various directions, leaving me with just a 5yo, a toddler and a 6 week old baby.
I decided to spend some extra time on school with 5yo Rachael, in between chores. She’s nearly 6 and we have spent very little time on formal schooling. That’s not to say she hasn’t started school, but it’s mostly in small informal sessions. We hover between relaxed homeschooling and unschooling, generally doing our own lackadaisical version of Sonlight or the Charlotte Mason approach.
My plan was to work together on cleaning for a few minutes, then break for some fun school, repeating this throughout the day. I was heady with the thought of all our together-time.
At our first school break, I asked her if she knew all the letters and their sounds. “No,” she replied. “I get them mixed up a lot.”
On the outside:
Slight pause. “Hmm,” said Mom, smiling brightly. “Let’s work on that today!”
On the inside:
What? What?! She’s almost 6 and doesn’t even know her ABC’s? How did that happen? How did I not know? This stupid unschooling thing has failed us. No, who am I kidding? I’m the one who failed. I failed Rachael. My poor, ignorant child. I’m a bad mother and a bad homeschooler. That’s it. I need curriculum. REAL curriculum. She’s waiting for me to say something. Gulp. Come on, smile. “Let’s work on that today!”
We work together to make a set of alphabet flashcards, then do a trial run. On the first time through, she knows the names and sounds of 23 letters missing only J, V, and Z. She gets them right the next time. Silly girl. She knows this stuff. Silly mom.
Rachael learned the letters and sounds in many ways, most initiated by her, most bearing little or no resemblance to formal schooling. She learned them by:
- writing her own name and those of her siblings
- dictating and copying very simple thank you letters
- creating birthday cards for family members
- playing store and writing real or pretend shopping lists
- playing restaurant and taking down our orders
- playing school with her siblings
- having books read to her
- watching The Letter Factory while her older sisters did their math
So what did we do? We did the dishes, and then we made and used ABC flashcards, paying special attention to J, V, and Z. We did some laundry, then worked on counting to 20 – I learned that she always forgets 15. We straightened the dining room and living room, then worked on counting by 10’s. We swept and read the Bible, followed by Green Eggs and Ham.
We did a hundred other things too. And what did 2yo Bethany do all day? She tagged along, of course, and joined in. And soon enough, I expect to find that she already knows all her letters and sounds even though I won’t remember working with her on them.
I love homeschooling.
This post is part of the Homeschooling Carnival. Be sure to check out the other entries!
4 Moms is starting up again on August 5 – join us for an Open House to see how big families make it fit!