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The Home-School Journey Begins!

DJ Learning About the Continents
On December 2, 2016, our son at the tender age of 4 years old attended his last day of traditional school. This date marked the beginning of a new adventure for our little one and for us as well. During the days leading up to the change in his schooling environment, my wife and I were constantly asking DJ questions regarding his feelings about leaving school and staying home with us to learn. At first he was a little confused because for the past 3 years all he has been going to school while mommy and daddy went to work. He became accustom to playing with his friends, eating, sleeping, and learning at school. He had been conditioned to think it was normal to be away from mommy and daddy approximately 7 hours out of each day. So now he wanted to know who would teach him therefore we explained that we would be the teachers just like when he would come home from school at night. He wanted to know who he would play with and we informed him that we would play and take him to go play with other kids at the parks and/or his former school. Once those two concerns were dealt with, DJ was totally on board with being educated by his parents. Little did we know that we would be educated by our son as well. 

The last three weeks with DJ has taught us plenty. As we have stated before, going into the homeschooling would not be difficult for us because we are well-educated and hey he is only four. However, we have recently learned the following: 

TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK- There must be a team effort in homeschooling. Understand that we are not stating that one person cannot home-school their child(ren) and do a great job. What we are saying is that in order to maintain some sense of sanity, it's best to have a partner or multiple partners to aid in the process. As we are preparing for our repatriation to Africa, many of you may know that my wife resigned from her job about the same time DJ stopped going to school. I have been working like a madman since my employer found out I was leaving and headed for greener pastures. Therefore, a lot of the time spent implementing the subjects we wanted to teach our son was falling on my wife while I was working all day and even some nights. Of course dealing with a toddler all day and attempting to teach them as well can take a toll on you because it is a full-time job. My wife told me one night when I arrived home, "I at least use to get a 30 minute break at work. But not here!" In that moment, although I knew I was assisting the best way I could despite work, I could see how tired she was from the constant interaction that was necessary with our little guy throughout the day. It became apparent to us that in this process of homeschooling there needs to be someone to "tag you out" so you can take a mental break before you mentally break. Fortunately for us I scheduled my vacation to start not long after DJ stop attending school which has allowed us to find the required balance in teaching and interacting with the little guy over the course of the day. We have been able to find personal time for each of us. We are looking forward settling in Ghana because we will have a more consistent tag team approach to homeschooling DJ there. We are very fortunate to have a team of educators awaiting us at Abibifahodie co-op that DJ will be attending. Word to the wise, find you a home-schooling team to help make the learning experience enjoyable and less stressful for everyone. 

DJ Saying His Numbers In "Twi"
UNDERSTAND YOUR CHILD'S  LEARNING STYLE- One of the main reasons we decided to hone-school DJ was because we knew he was not the "sit down and be quiet" type of child.  Although, he could have been conditioned to fit that mold, we wanted him to be able to be himself and have the opportunity to learn on his own accord. While we do not advocate letting your child run wild when it's time to learn, we do recommended some type of freedom and space for them to "just be a kid." We took the time to understand what method of learning best suited our son. DJ is a tactile learner and he needs interactive activities while he learns. As such, we quickly discovered this would require major patience on our part because we have to rein our son in during activities to ensure he is actually learning and grasping concepts. We also have to be very creative in how we would teach him. We found the best way to do math was not sitting at the table with a pen and paper, but shooting a basketball and having him keep the score or  playing "dominoes" to teach him how to count by 5s. DJ informed us that he like to cut paper and after letting him do so we noticed there was a level of focus he had when doing so. As parents we have to listen to our child(ren) as well as observe them to fully understand their learning styles. We are simply allowing him to show us what he likes and we are using fun activities to incorporate math, reading, writing etc. to increase his knowledge base. So take the time to understand your child's learning style and you will be amazed how much you can teach them and how easily they retain the information.

CHILDREN HAVE LEARNING THRESHOLDS- This goes without saying for a four year old little boy. Our son is full of energy so we are learning now what we can implement in the future. Your child does not need to be taught every minute of every day. Sometimes they may need a day off completely. Although, you may not know it, your child is learning all day, every day any way. From the trips to the grocery store, listening to your conversations, or even during recreational time. Of course DJ just wants to play sometimes without adding or without learning a new word. He has a threshold and we have to respect that. Therefore, my wife and I had to determine how much we actually wanted to present to him over the course of one day. We determined that we would limit the teaching to one subject a day and maybe incorporate that subject in two or three activities throughout the day. In addition, we determined there would be days where we would not actually purposefully teach DJ any subject. We believe it is working well. We constantly amazed at how much he is retaining. He is regurgitating information, critically thinking, and even learning things we have not purposefully taught. Children are sponges and they will pick up information naturally. Thus, give those kids a break and watch how well it benefits them in the long run. 

DJ Learning to Count By 5s Using Dominoes
The adventure of homeschooling is just beginning for us, but I'm sure we will continue to learn many things from DJ as we all continue to grow as a family. Until next time........

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1 comment:

  1. welcome to the world of homeschooling! I see you've thrown in some unschooling too. Awesome.