Earlie Girlie Homeschool

About Me {The Long Version}

I describe myself as a life-longer learner. I have Masters Degrees in Art Therapy & Counseling. I'm published in my field, and wrote award-winning programs for after school. All this means is that I'm used to helping people to become their best selves, and I've been involved in academia for a LONG time. I have taken many teaching and therapy concepts out of their in-the-box settings, and applied it to more unusual spaces. 

Early in my career, I spent time doing clinical work as an art and play therapist. There was no manual for that. I had to create a progress note template because there was no format for art therapy yet. I did intakes, diagnosed people, helped them map out goals, and then assessed how they were doing each time we met. I was known for giving people fun "projects" to do, instead of "just talking". We would do paint to music, draw subjective units of distress scales (SUDs), make collages, play in sand trays. A lot of them had been to therapy before, but found this approach to be refreshing. Helping my patients required creative problem-solving, which one can apply to any area in life.

When I became a mom, my work catapulted me back into classrooms. This time, it was creating after-school workshops, using components of art therapy. My team and I got to showcase art projects with a social-emotional learning component. I often asked teachers first what they saw their students struggle with, and how that would fit into the theme. I built activities around some of those issues and then others, as they emerged. Children struggle at school with frustration, anxiety, friendships, pressure of success, not feeling "smart enough", presentation skills, shyness, listening skills, etc. I was assigned to classrooms with teachers and groups of students, as guest "teacher" or art facilitator. My students would be a mix of gifted, IEP, and mainstream, and different ages. All in the same class, doing the same projects? Yes! Children are lumped together in school and must learn to function that way, so we created opportunities for them to get to know themselves better, and one another better. 

After school, I saw children learn without grades, without me knowing where they score on tests, without the pressure of getting it all perfect the first time. My job was to teach them how to lift off the stress, how to get to the GOOD PARTS of learning - making mistakes and feeling ok about it. Enjoyment, interest, sharing knowledge and experiences. All of my experiences helping children to enjoy learning took place in therapy spaces, classrooms, community centers, libraries, museums. This helped shape my view on the many ways children can learn. It can be JOYFUL. Yes, even at home when you feel like you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE DOING. You know why? Because YOU, as a parent, are allowed to learn new things too! Learning as you go is completely allowed. If you need to give yourself a signed permission slip? I have a printable for that!

I did NOT intend to homeschool. However, my child STRUGGLED with every aspect of public school. It got to the point where she would face so many gaps if I didn't step in and DIY. People decide to homeschool for many reasons. This pandemic has given us at least one. 

Spend some time thinking about what kind of student you were as a child. What do you remember being good at and not so great? Maybe write or doodle a bit about that, and just set it aside.

Next, think about what kind of student your child is. (If you have more than one child, do this for each of them). What are some strengths, weaknesses? What skills does your child need in order to enjoy learning and feel successful? Some children need that star sticker, that "A" in the corner. Some children need you to read to them, or prefer audiobooks. Some prefer quiet study. Some prefer making things, or doing experiments rather than reading passively. Some need to pace as they talk aloud. Every person has preferences in how they receive information. Homeschooling gives you the ability to find and use the methods that work best for your child. 

Think back to childhood again. As a child, I didn't have to study until high school because things were easy enough to just memorize. I often tutored other kids. Some subjects were tough, but none seemed that difficult. I went to school, then I went outside to play, or stayed after school for sports, band, music, theater, or group projects. My whole life had been going to private schools, and being in a traditional learning environment was fine for me. What I mean by a "traditional learning environment": You hear a lecture. You take notes and memorize facts. You do addition, subtraction, multiplication and division tables with a timer. You have writing, research, and hands-on projects. You compete for PA Junior Academy of Science. You cram for tests. You hope to get good grades so that you won't be behind in high school, and so you can get into a good university of choice. There was a clear pathway, to get to the next grade, next school, next career I wanted. All I had to do was follow whatever my teachers said. THANKFULLY, my school teachers used a great deal of critical thinking activities, writing, and meditation (prayer and yoga). By the time I graduated from high school, I was ahead of the game in college. I was a writing tutor and computer lab assistant for work-study.

For my child? EVERY subject was difficult. Walking up and down steps was difficult. Attending to tasks was difficult. The commotion of school was overwhelming to her. Her IEP was not enough for teachers to truly help her learn much. School was sensory overload. She would just collapse after school and nap, or just zone out until the next day. It exhausted her completely. She got sick a lot, with whatever was going around. I remember having perfect attendance as a child, and rarely being sick. I had to come to terms with the fact that my child was not going to be the type of student I was. She just could not do it this way. So, I felt like I had to tutor her. HAD TO. Wanting to take on all of homeschool came later. We could not be more opposite as learners! Cracking the code to how she learns best was NOT easy. She stumped educators, learning support specialists and other professionals. It wasn't just that I couldn't figure her out. Nobody could. When I started homeschooling, it was because I felt that school was failing her, and I was too. Not the best starting point, right? So if YOU are in that place of not being thrilled about starting homeschool? Feeling like you're going to fail before you even start? Don't worry. Keep reading. It can get a LOT better as you find your way.

My first panic about school at home was HOW could I replicate AN ENTIRE CLASSROOM AT HOME? Turns out, you can't. Better yet - you don't have to! My child seemed allergic to sitting still. So, we moved around the house as we wanted to. We went on field trips, vacations, and out into the world (pre-COVID, at least). I was THRILLED to find out from our homeschool evaluator that a trip to Walt Disney World would COUNT as school days! Everyday things "counted" as learning something. "Just turn it into a teachable moment." Once your mind is used to that fact, the world opens. So many possibilities! Sorting laundry can be grouping by color, counting, measuring and pouring soap, using the correct cycles, transferring objects, folding, hanging and putting things away. Adults do this automatically. Am I the only one who went all the way to college without knowing how to do this? My child enjoyed these "lessons" because it involved movement. We made up sorting and counting songs. My chores were a lot less boring, but took a bit longer. My life slowed down to a pace that actually seemed more...comfortable. I wasn't rushing around to pick her up and drop her off, getting errands and work done in between. 

As someone who is used to doing research, I went a bit overboard. I didn't want to just homeschool. I wanted to be GREAT at it! I researched educational approaches such as: Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Unschooling, and (my new favorite, Gameschooling). I went to to educational conferences. I learned from all kinds of educators and parents. I scoured Teachers Pay Teachers, free online classes, and workshops. I borrowed my favorite assignments from my fabulous elementary school teachers. I observed my child, who held onto the most clues about how she learns best. I found inspiration from her interests, patterns of behavior. We tested lots of different learning methods. The ones we liked best, we kept going with. We tailored homeschool to my unique child, and our life. You know what that means? You can, too! 

What you will see is a very eclectic approach. This is my way of showcasing that homeschool can take on many forms. There is no one way to do it, or do it perfectly. Be open to figuring out what works best for your child and your lifestyle. Be open to making some mistakes along the way - because fixing mistakes is part of the learning process too. 

Hopefully, this can inspire your own creativity and adaptations for your child!

© Copyright Early Girlie Homeschool


Make a free website with Yola