Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stuck in the Theory Jungle!

OOPS! I just noticed that Nina pressed some keys this morning as I was going to post the following and deleted parts of it on me. So, if you read it before, you might want to read it again. It will make more sense now that I have caught the error and fixed it...

(To the left:  Mike tries to save the kids from the jungle last May...)

Okay, so I have over 10 years of formal work experience in child care and education and my eldest just turned four. So, you’d think I would have a solid grasp on how I want to approach homeschooling him and his siblings. Well, I thought I had finally settled on a sort of relaxed homeschooling, but, I have more recently come to the conclusion that I want something a little more structured. Now that Luke is four, Nina is 2.5 and there is a baby on the way, I know that I will never get to the “school” part in homeschooling each day if I don’t focus us all a bit more. But, alas, I find myself stuck in a place I never ventured into during my professional career – the theory jungle!

Yes, since deciding to homeschool, I have periodically immersed myself in something that mattered little to me when I was in the working world: Educational Theory! During my professional career, somehow I managed to successfully develop, implement, evaluate and adapt varied curriculums for both private and public organizations, in the United States and abroad, with nary a care for educational theory. Sure, over the years, I had to go to a workshop on a particular theory here or read a book on another there, but I looked at these as silly requirements. Practice was far more important to me than theory. Intuition and creativity were everything. Studying educational dogma seemed rather impractical. There was real work to be done!

But now? As a parent-educator with far more responsibility -- and even less time -- than I ever had in my professional life, I somehow find myself addicted to educational theory. Effective teaching practice, which once seemed to spring from just common sense and creativity, has suddenly grown roots in my mind now that it is attached to my parenting efforts. Oddly enough, many of those roots grow from seeds planted by “institutionalized” learning philosophies, such as Montessori and Reggio Emilia. While others grow from the seeds established by home educators such as Charlotte Mason and folks that have developed the Classical model of education for home learners... And, it seems, these roots are running all over my home. My bookshelves bow under the weight of stacks of library books on such theories. My mind is cluttered with their overgrowth. And, worse? Now, I – a person who always created her own curriculums, rarely taking more than requisite notice of those provided by the organizations I taught for – find myself attracted to other folks’ curriculums. What has happened to me?

I don’t know. But, I do know that if I ever want to navigate the jungle of theory and curriculum I have traversed so deeply into, I must get myself “unstuck” from theory inertia and back onto a path of fulfilling practice. To do so, I know I need to start cutting a clear path and heading in a distinct direction of interest. Thus, today, I begin a focused study of the Creative Curriculum® for Preschool.

The Creative Curriculum® is a program I meandered into by way of the bibliographies in some Reggio Emilia books I was perusing. It kept my interest, not only for its developmentally sound suggestions for planning, implementing, evaluating and reflecting upon early childhood curriculum, but also for the practical ideas it offers for tackling my main personal goal for 2010 – Order in the Home! Indeed, through studying the Creative Curriculum®, I have landed upon an outline for how I might more successfully create engaging learning spaces in my home, while eliminating the need to dedicate an entire room as a play and learning space. (With the new baby on the way, we’ll need what is now our play-and-learning room for a bedroom again, I think.) And besides, I seek to have a home that folks walk into and think, “Ahh, a comfortable child-and-adult friendly space,” not, “Oh my! Am I in a home, a classroom or a storage unit?!” This is a big goal, I realize, especially since, right now, much of my home resembles the aforementioned unorganized storage unit more than anything else. But, as the old saying goes, a great journey begins with but a single step.

Thus, I have decided to take a step towards breaking away from the theory inertia I have been stuck in, while at the same time moving towards Order in the Home, by using the Creative Curriculum® as a source of inspiration. As I journey forward then, re-creating our learning spaces and reorganizing our home, I invite you to come along. Please, share your comments and ideas. Tell me stories of your own successes and challenges in preparing an effective (beautiful, inspiring, organized) environment for your children and a welcoming atmosphere in your home. By all means, chat with me as I journey along. Interesting conversations have always been one of my favorite parts of traveling! Company along the way -- even just virtual company -- will make my journey more successful.

Please, leave a comment.

1 comment:

momentsbyjoy said...

I have been in the same boat you are in. I was a teacher for 8 years prior to becoming a mother. I excelled in my field, and taught other teachers how to mold their classroom skills.

Now, my oldest begins Kindergarten in the fall. For two years I have researched on how I was going to homeschool. At first, I wanted a lot of structure, because I am a very organized person. Then I realized that strong structure was not going to work for my family. It seemed, that no matter what structure I chose, life always interfered. That would always ruin my mood because I like predictability; as a mother of a 5, 3, and 2 year old, predictability is out of the question.

Then I went with the relaxed approach. No lesson plans, no activities; no real plans at all. It was spur of the moment learning.

Now, I did learn that this was GREAT for my kids. I saw their creativity just explode. However, it was horrid for me. Even though it was 'relaxed' schooling, I could never relax, not to mention I was bored out of my mind.

I have yet to settle on a set approach, but have learned that it is going to compromise of both scheduling and relaxed. I plan only a few activities during the week; whether that is going to the park, looking for certain bugs or flowers, painting a mural, playing go fish, etc. I plan about 3-5 of these per week. I still have some tweeking to do, but at least I have a goal. Something that allows me to feel accomplished as a teacher, but also gives my children the opportunity to explore their own minds.

It's very nice to read about other homeschool parents who feel exactly as I do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your life!


Related Posts with Thumbnails