Bella’s School

I haven’t updated on Bella’s schooling lately. We actually haven’t done much in the past two months. I decided to go with more of an “unschooling” approach than I had been. Bella liked school and wants to learn, so I thought she would ask to “do school,” as she puts it. My plan was to not do specific letter/color/number/etc. oriented teaching unless she asked, but to continue our usual baking/cooking/cleaning/life “teaching.”

My plan went awry.

It turns out that Bella is quite content to just play with Declan. She doesn’t ask to learn something new unless she is reading an alphabet book, in which case she wants me to teach her all of the letters right then. She also started “acting out” more often (Bella? Bad? Never!) and had way more unused energy. And with this two-month-long experiment, I learned something. I should have stuck with what we were doing. Yes, it took extra time. Yes, it took extra thought. Yes, sometimes we did skip a day or two because it just wasn’t fun or convenient then. But it worked.

Bella is the type of child who needs more structure than just the breakfast, lunch, nap, supper, bath, bedtime routine. I’m not going to plan our days down to the minute; no “math at 8:15, letters at 8:35, shapes and colors at 9:05” stuff for my family! However, I am going to have a plan for each week.

We are going back to school. Bella and I both need it!

Bella is starting “school”!

After a reading “Parenting on a Penny: Affordable (Or Free!) Preschool Resources” written by Erin at The Humbled Homemaker, I decided Bella would start pre-school on Monday. No, I’m not sending her to a daycare; we’re doing it at home!

Danny and I have talked about the pros and cons of sending our children to a Christian school since Bella was born. (Yes, parents DO think ahead!) We finally decided (tentatively) to home school. Danny was home schooled throughout most of his school years. I grew up in a Christian school, so it was a harder idea for me.

When I was pregnant with Declan, my midwife told us about her children’s school, an “unschooling” school. The basic principle of unschooling is that children do not need books – specifically a curriculum with a set schedule and a set amount of paper work – to learn. Children learn through wanting to learn and doing. For more information on unschooling, read “What is Unschooling?” 

Danny and I were intrigued. Especially after we read “Sit Down, Shut Up, and Learn.” We could see the good points of unschooling… but also the bad. I don’t want my children to be 13 years old and not be able to read because they prefer to look at the pictures. (Okay, that’s a little extreme, but you get the point.) So, until this week, I was stumped. I didn’t know what curriculum – if any – I would follow when Bella was starting school.

Now I have a plan. We are going to combine traditional schooling with unschooling. I am going to follow the ABC Jesus Love Me curriculum for the most part, but also continue with our normal activities: cleaning, cooking, reading books together, just interacting. As her interests grow and change, our studies will grow and change. Books and papers are great, but we will try to use other methods of learning. 1+1+1=1 is also going to be a great resource for me. We are going to do a lot of hands-on learning, which is the best kind for small children.

I know she’s learning without the books. She can tell you most of the ingredients for most of my dishes- pizza, bread, cookies, cakes, etc. She can give basics on how to cook rice, eggs, and pasta. She can tell you her colors and shapes. She can count to 14 very well, and with guidance can count to 100. (I have to name the 10’s place, she can count the 1-9 with the correct ten’s place attached.) She knows her letters up to E very well, and we are working on F and G. She knows a lot just by watching and participating; with teaching she will learn more. We are starting a wonderful journey on Monday. I so look forward to spending more time with my intelligent daughter!