Friday, November 27, 2009

Lapbooking & You

So I have seen these great project books called lapbooks used by many homeschoolers. Simply put, here is a definition of a lapbook taken from Time4Writing:

"Lapbooking is one of the most popular trends in the homeschool community. Many families include lapbooks in their learning to help their children master material and build solid writing skills through easy, creative and fun mini-books. After your children have created a collection of mini-books, they pull them together in a perfect lap sized folded file folder."

But one thing I don't see a lot of are writing projects of any length included in these lapbooks. They seem to be more of an arts and crafts project with flash cards, wheels and reveal folded papers. Missing are the essays or paragraphs of prose written by the student on the lapbook subject matter. One problem is that a lapbook doesn't lend itself to long prose like a 3 ring binder. So I thought I would share with you a free downloadable lapbook pocket that is perfect to hold a writing assignment of almost any length (that is 10 pages or less). 

You can learn more about homeschool lapbooking and even see a video complete with finished projects in them at To watch the video, click the photo of the finished lapbook on this page.

I think lapbooks are a great way to focus a student's attention on a single subject collecting an assortment of related lessons in a reusable format. Besides, who can resist it when Johnny totes out his latest masterpiece and starts reciting all of the things he has learned in the process of creating it. Makes me what to replace my lap dog with a lapbook.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Unschooling the homeschooled

Here's another great approach to homeschooling but again the name will throw you for a loop: Unschooling! Now I'm all for unschooling and unlearning bad habits or inaccurate information but I'm not sure I want to throw the baby out with the bath water. For an explanation of what unschooling is, I refer to the Time4Learning overview:

" You may be wondering what unschooling "looks like." It is probably as different as each family is. But in one unschooled house, you might see kids building with Legos, examining a preying mantis in a jar, or watching the Clash of the Titans and discussing the ancient Greek gods. In another house, you might see a young man or woman spending his whole day programming a video game that he or she has envisioned. Another unschooling family may spend their day volunteering at an animal shelter and picking up trash near the highway. What you probably won't see, however, in an unschooled scenario is anything resembling a classroom experience, with specific schedules for learning and the days activities broken into "subject areas".

This explanation doesn't sound anything like its name unschooling. It sounds more like fun schooling to me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Eclectic Homeschooling?

I think homeschooling in and of itself is eclectic but I had no idea that there was an approach called eclectic that is a subset of the whole homeschooling movement. So I started doing research on the topic and this is what Time4Learning provides as an overview of eclectic homeschooling:

"One of the challenges of homeschool education is selecting a curriculum that meets the needs of each child. Many families find that what fits one child, may not fit another, or that what worked well one semester, may not work the next. Or in some cases, what works for one child in one subject, does not work for the same child in another subject.

Eclectic homeschooling is the result of parents’ endeavors to provide a highly specialized education plan for their children, based on the children’s strengths, learning style, and interests. Eclectic homeschoolers see value in a variety of different educational methods. While actual statistics are hard to come by, we believe most homeschooling families use an eclectic approach to their children’s education."

I think maybe a better description of the eclectic homeschooling approach would be common sense with dedicated parents willing to do what it takes to find the best match of learning styles for each of their children and teaching methods.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Homeschooling for Fun and Profit?

Homeschooling seems so out of context for the lay-person especially those of us who graduated from public schools and seem to be doing okay in spite of it. It seems that I never hear or meet someone that was homeschooled unless they are rich and famous, like actors or athletes. But I think the real reason why more families don't go back to the roots of homeschooling (that's where it all started remember) is the opportunity cost of one of the parents leaving the workforce. It is a well-known phenomenon that it now takes 2 just to make ends meet in today's economy. So how does someone justify taking themselves out of the job market so the family can live on half as much money plus pay for homeschooling supplies.

It is no wonder that our schools have become somewhat of a holding tank or prepaid baby sitter for our kids as we no longer have the luxury of choice - public school or homeschool. You notice I left out the private school option just because it is so out of reach for most families. It is good to know that there are plenty of options and homeschooling resources out there that at least make it doable for the average person. And if unemployment continues to rise or school closures continue to escalate, who knows, more of us may end up as temporary homeschoolers.