sábado, 26 de janeiro de 2008
Back to school
All of a sudden the classes start on Monday! We got a nice ex-teacher's discount for the kids' school fees from the private school where I taught English last semester so we enrolled both of them there. The school is small and cosy and the classes are small (so far three enrolled in princess' class but surely there'll be more in due course). Pricess is so excited she can hardly sleep for two more nights!
Lately I have done quite a bit of reading about homeschooling. Unfortunately I don’t have access to any books around here (sure, Amazon delivers here in the bushes as well but dollar prices are out of reach at the moment) so I’ve been relying on the wonderful websites I’ve found. I’ve also discovered several interesting blogs that I’ve started to follow.
The kids are only 2 and 4 and if we were in Finland I wouldn’t even think about “schooling” them in any way. Over there they’d be in the nursery and pre-school, start school at 7 and learn to read and write then (unless they learned by themselves earlier). But over here it’s different. The kids start pre-school at 4 so princess will now start her second year of pre-school. First year of pre-school is for the vocals and for the numbers 1-10. Second year they introduce more letters and most of the children learn to read and write then (although there's no pressure to do so). I haven’t studied any pedagogy so I don’t know what’s best; teach the kids to read and write early (as done over here) or leave it for when school starts (as done in Finland). However we’re here and I obviously have to take a stand about princess learning her letters. As I want to support her pre-school work we’ve been looking at some letters at home too and she constantly asks about them and writes many of them in her drawings.
As soon as we decided to live in Brazil it was clear to me that I wanted to teach my kids some subjects at home. I have my doubts about the school system over here although I know some really good and inspiring teachers too. There are certain things (such as European geography and history) that are taught very lightly and I want to make sure my kids learn them in more depth. I also want to cover Finnish grammar and literature as well as English with the kids. At first I thought I’d simply buy the books in Finland and give the kids normal classes at home in the afternoons. Then I started to read about homeschooling and got great new ideas.
Full time homeschooling isn’t an option for us as it’s illegal in Brazil and I don’t want to bribe any school officials or anyone else in order to have my kids at home. So far they both love going to nursery and pre-school so we pretend to keep them there. The kids study only four hours a day (even when in higher grades) so that leaves a lot of time for interesting homeschooling during the rest of the day. Our solution then is to homeschool part-time. That may not even count as homeschooling for some “real” homeschoolers but after much thought and talking about it that’s what we see as the best arrangement for us. And that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it; what suits each family best.
I’ve been soaking in all the wonderful ideas about lap-books and notebooks. Notebooking really seems to be what I want to do. I guess I’ve been notebooking for years already, it’s just that now I’ve got a name for it! We’ve actually already started a nature notebook and we’ll soon start a kitchen notebook as well since the princess is really into cooking, baking and general helping out in the kitchen.
I’ll get things organised for some home-pre-schooling already this year. At the moment all the great homeschooling ideas will help me to organise our afternoons and give the kids some meaningfull things to do. They don’t seem to get enough of crafting and as much as I love crafting too I do sometimes run out of ideas. So some planning ahead isn’t such a bad idea I guess. I really liked the idea of having a weekly theme. Even if we don’t stick to it every day it still gives a nice framework for crafting, reading etc. And it makes planning a bit easier as well.
Summing it all up: I’m excited about the new school year that’s just starting and I’m looking forward to putting into practice all the new ideas I’ve come across lately.