Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Record Keeping Teaches Mom a Life Lesson

I love compiling portfolios! What an ingenious requirement in the Florida home education law. Some of you are cringing, asking "What did you have for breakfast?" I haven't eaten anything strange or out of the ordinary, just thankful that our law requires us to keep work samples to show progress, a log of activities, and a book list. Bare minimum, I think, but all necessary. All this to help us be the best home educators we can.

As I sat and wrote a synopsis for each child for the year (kind of a year-end report, but not required by law) I realized just how much we had accomplished. What a relief! I remember many days this year when I thought, "Are we really getting anywhere or learning anything?" To those days, I can now say, "WOW! Learning happened as we did life!"
Let me give you a few examples.

I have a daughter who loves animals. When I asked her to select some books from the library shelf, she put an armful in our library bag. The topic? Dogs. Well, home we went to read about dogs. This led to several visits to local pet stores, a dog sitting job and an impromptu day at a dog agility show. That led to night-time prayers of "Please, Lord, I would love a dog." Forward several months, and God did bring the "perfect" dog (what do you expect from perfect God). We adopted her from another family. The adoption led to a well-check at the vet and daily care and upkeep, which she has done with a smile and no complaints (talk about character training).
Back at the library, we checked out another armful. None of this was planned by me, but in the end, it morphed into an interest-led unit study, the best kind. And I was worried we weren't learning enough!

Life happened, learning happened.
Having to keep written records of our school year is not only a requirement in our state, it is a blessing in our home. Those records help me see we are indeed accomplishing something. There is another added blessing. When learning happens as a result of life, my kids remember what they learned because the content meant something to them, they were involved and interested. For our youngest learners, this is learning at its best. I am posting the contents of our impromptu dog unit (not comprehensive by any means, but a start for those who might be faced with an impromptu unit). I hope it encourages you to see the learning that happens while you enjoy your days with your children.

  • Researched dog breeds, discussing differences
  • Studied the history and country of origin of dog breeds
  • Read Top 10 Dogs for Kids, Gaines
  • Daughter added "a dog" to her prayer list. Mom added "perfect dog for our family" not thinking one really existed :)
  • Made a dog lap book with pictures cut from used magazines and information printed from the internet.
  • Watched the National Dog Show
  • Went to a local dog agility show
  • Went to the Tricky Dog Show
  • Watched a video about dog care
  • Visited three local pet shops
  • Adopted a dog (talk about learning by doing!)
  • Took our new dog to the vet and had a discussion with the vet about care
  • Read Taking My Dog to the Vet, Susan Kuklin
  • Read Your Pet Dog, Landau
  • Read: Hero Dogs, Jackson
  • Discussed working dogs
  • Read: Mush! (about the Iditarod), Seibert
  • Learned about mushers and dog sledding
  • Found Alaska on the map
  • Followed the Iditarod trail on the map
  • Read: Grouping at the Dog Show, Ribke (Math)
  • Read: Cocker Spaniel, Wilcox
  • Read Dogs, Slim Goodbody
  • Read: A Puppy is Born, Cole
  • Read: Looking at Paintings: Dogs, Roalf
  • Read: Dog Food, Freymann
  • Used Draw 50 Dogs (Ames) to draw dogs
  • Older children listened to Call of the Wild (London), Book on Tape

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