Attitude of Play

Considering Homeschooling? Part V - Philosophies

In the spirit of keeping it simple, here is a link to a previous post with details about a variety of well-known homeschool philosophies.

Our philosophy is keeping an attitude of play.


It works well for me because I lean toward the serious, organized, wet blanket style of learning.  Focusing on play keeps my family balanced. 

It works like this:

Playing is learning.  Playing is important to kids.  When we give them time to spend as they wish, we are respecting their natural ability to grow and use their instincts.

In our home, I am responsible to the State of Missouri and since I need documentation to prove to myself that my children are gaining skills, I set aside specific time every weekday for written work. Roughly 20% of that time is spent on what I call "straight up math."  It is textbook and workbook driven.  The other 80%  is based in relevant seasonal activities or real-life events.

I keep a list of the top 5 skills I'd like to check on for each of my kids.  The list comes from the public school standards for our district.  Knowing that my middle son needs practice in paragraph structure and identifying the topic sentence, I will look for a place to fit that in naturally with something he loves.

I could never have anticipated how much all three of my kids have enjoyed Little House on the Prairie and On the Banks of Plum Creek.  My middle child, in particular has a strong sense of justice and is in the phase of his life where he is solidifying his ideas of right and wrong.  This was the perfect opportunity to have him write about the conflict between the Osage Indians and the Ingalls Family.

When we had the chance to visit the Shawnee National Forest and hike in the Garden of the Gods a few weeks ago, we talked about the Trail of Tears, just miles away.  This perspective on history was fascinating for my kids.  Suddenly, their perspective on the anger and savagery from their favorite story had changed.

They were able to forage for food along the same trails the Cherokee did when they were forcibly removed from the ancestral home.  They were reverent and their opinions weren't so black and white anymore.

My five year-old retold the story of the scary shrieking war cries that the Ingalls family heard in the middle of the night on the prairie.  Retelling a story is part of the Kindergarten standards.  I believe that story is relevant and has impacted his life.

The key to making this system work is starting with play.  Using a child's' interests as a jumping-off point means everything falls naturally into place.  Less nagging, threatening, and reasoning is needed to help kids see the purpose behind what they're doing.  They're doing it simply because it's fun.

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