Recently a new homeschooling mom posted to my support group list asking more experienced parents to share their thoughts on the “3 Rs.”
My homeschooling journey began 22 years ago, when my eldest daughter was 6 (my youngest is now 14), so I chimed in with a quick list of things that worked for our family:
— Reading regularly as a family, together, book after book after book, not just children’s books, but classics, too. We continued even after our kids were reading on their own.
— Regular trips to the library and letting kids choose their own reading material.
— We didn’t do any instruction or anything special to teach our kids to read. We never participated in any summer reading clubs or programs that rewarded our kids for reading.
— Reading, reading, reading. And patience. Some kids are better spellers than others. At age 12, one of my kids was still an atrocious speller. Within a couple of years she was a good speller. I believe that reading is huge for learning to spell and write.
— Scrabble. Both of my younger kids got into Scrabble with a passion at about age 11-13.
— For arithmetic, cooking, handling money, and other practical, everyday activities that involve numbers go a long way. We did use workbooks/textbooks, but not until age 10.
I hope this list was helpful to the original poster and other newbies who might have seen it. I know short, sweet, practical bullet points can be very useful. At times, they might be all that busy parents, saturated with books, blogs, curriculum websites, Facebook sites, and more Yahoo groups than they can count on one hand, can handle.
Here’s what my short, sweet bullet points don’t convey: every one of them is loaded with experiences, joys, and memories that continue to linger, resonate, and enrich our lives every day.
Lazy fall evenings peeling apples from the backyard tree with my son, listening to my husband read from Mary Stewart’s “The Crystal Cave.”
Cuddling up at night to hear the next installment of Louise Fitzhugh’s “Harriet the Spy,” then watching my daughter make her own observation notebook to keep tabs on the world around her.
Gathering with other homeschooling families on Saturday nights to read books, share food, and deepen friendships.
All year round, over and over again, remembering to bring the big canvas bags to the library to avoid having to carry out a way-too-high stack of books.
On cold winter days, sipping hot chocolate and playing Scrabble, Bananagrams, Cranium, Yahtzee, and other games at the kitchen table.
That list of examples could go on for pages. It’s a testament to the richness and abundance homeschooling has to offer. To me, it is the more important list. It’s what we have focused on in our homeschooling style – living life and learning from it, getting to know ourselves and others,
developing relationships, skills, and ideas.
The gifts from embracing that lifestyle, for us, have been, and continue to be great. Some might think that trusting that the “3 Rs” would take care of themselves was a gamble, but for us and for so many other families I know, it paid off. To me, that’s not surprising. When one really thinks about how children learn, it makes perfect sense.