Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Homeschooling Works - We Have Proof!

We didn't start our parenting journey with a plan to homeschool. Honestly, I don't even really remember when it became our plan. In many ways, it kind of just happened. When our oldest was five, it just seemed that no one in our family was ready for the leap into schooling as we typically know it. By then, our family had pretty much become a happy, well functioning, unit of daily enjoyment, learning and living.

Enjoying the company of my young boys, I wasn't ready to give up the routines we'd established together. I didn't think my two year old was ready to give up the entertainment and mentoring provided by his older brother and most importantly, the older brother himself really didn't seem quite ready for an extended block of time away from us. So we entered into a homeschooling lifestyle - one year at a time. And so, as they say, the rest is history. And yes, the years go by fast, kindergarten became high school in the blink of an eye, much sooner then we as young parents could imagine. And we are still homeschooling - one year at a time.

So this spring, for the first time, our oldest participated in an official graduation ceremony. His experience attending classes at an institution of higher learning has been a positive and very successful one. Earning an associates degree and graduating with high honors is quite an accomplishment for someone who first entered a classroom as a college student. As a homeschooling mom, I have to admit, I'm just a tad bit proud and honestly, greatly relieved!

Seems like yesterday...
An official graduation ceremony!

Joyful sibling relationships have been
a homeschooling side benefit for our family.

There were occasional days of panic on my part, wondering if we were missing something or if we were covering enough academics, but mostly we all just continued to enjoy learning together. We have many stories, ideas, insights and resources to share from all of those homeschool years, but this post is mostly, simply to say - it worked! This spring, we are celebrating the wonderful results of learning and living those years the way we did!

No risks, no rewards.
Definitely no regrets!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Wonderful Resources

Local Museums Top the List

Despite having attended art school myself and despite living near a big city with fabulous art museums, I never felt I did enough art education or art history education with my young homeschooling children. A recent experience visiting the Art Institute of Chicago with my teen children highlighted what a wonderful shared experience it can be.

Any preparation ahead of the visit can make it more interesting and fun.

A few of my suggestions for making the actual visit to an art museum with students of any age more enjoyable are:

  • Have a short (very short) list of pieces to find and mention them to your students ahead of time. View them in advance in books or online. Think picture books, stories, etc.
  • To keep every ones attention, keep your visit length within a reasonable amount of time.  An hour really can be enough time to get a taste of several pieces of art that can be discussed later or even visited again. 
  • Allow some time for spontaneous exploration. While I never plan to visit the displays of armor in the medieval section, the boys are always fascinated by what was worn by the knights and I learn some things, too.

Many museums offer hands on workshops that are engaging for children and adults. You can even try your own, at home workshops, before or after a visit. Copy a technique, or use the colors of a favorite painting in your own drawing or painting. Any activity that relates back to something you've seen can increase appreciation of an artist's work.

We also recently visited the wonderful, National Museum of Mexican Art in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. They consistently offer excellent hands on workshops that look like great fun. I share a bit of our visit in a blog post here.  Any hands on, or other familiarization of the art, or of the process of creating it will enhance a museum visit and increase the likelihood of those exciting 'aha' moments.

The resources from Enrichment Studies add to any exploration of viewing or making art.
Erica Johns has been offering excellent resources for the study of art and music for quite awhile. Her materials are lovely, useful and inspiring. Definitely worth checking out.
This package is great for Father's Day.

Free for May:  A Father's Love Fine Art Pages