Monday, April 14, 2014

My Philosophy of Education: Individualized Learning

As I did our homeschool lesson-planning yesterday afternoon, I realized again just how thankful I am for my years in the classroom. Little did I know that the years I spent teaching others’ children would better equip me for teaching my own!

I put in hundreds of volunteer hours in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms before I graduated from college. I worked with individual students and small groups my junior year of college and student-taught a 3rd grade class for an entire school year. By the time I began interviewing for my first position, I felt like I was prepared for anything! (Ha!)

And then, I was called in to interview for a 3rd/4th grade multi-age classroom. (I had never heard of such a thing!) I still remember sharing my educational philosophy with my future teaching team in the school’s conference room—little did I know that my belief in an individualized education would be the perfect fit for the multi-age team.

For two years, I taught a mixed-class of 3rd and 4th graders through a parent-choice program in Northside ISD, and I loved every minute of it. My students weren’t boxed into grades in our classroom. It was so easy to differentiate their learning: teach a brief skills-based mini-lesson to the whole class, and then break off into small groups to reinforce. The children loved their independence—they each knew their routines and what was expected of them—and no one was bored OR left behind.

From there, I moved to a small town near Kansas City, Missouri and took a teaching position at a tiny parochial school. Only in its second year, my principal was also the Kindergarten teacher, and I taught the mixed-class of 1st and 2nd graders. Walking into a new school with limited resources, I was thankful for my previous experiences with crafting lessons based on student needs. (Keep in mind this was before Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers!) We had no science or social studies textbooks, so I used the state standards and library books to put together learning units. With only 12 students, I had the time to do math in small groups and teach reading and spelling individually.

Now that I am teaching my girls at home, I think back on those years and all the lessons I learned with joy. One of my favorite aspects of homeschooling is personalizing both of my girls' education:

* Kate's "school" work is obviously play-based at just 2.5 years old. She also picks up so much just being in the room while Addie and I are doing math and memory work review. While I certainly don’t push her, I am constantly amazed by what she is capable of learning!

* Addie is a strong reader (chapter books already!) and memorizes VERY easily. Fine motor work--especially handwriting--can be more of a challenge. She also has a little thing about doing something perfectly the first time... (I don't know where she gets it! Ha,ha.) We're working our way through our math book--it's full of hands-on practice at this age, so she feels like she's playing most of the time. Our main focus right now in “school” is working quietly and giving lessons our full attention.

Thanks to homeschooling, 
our learning has no boundaries!

1 comment:

  1. Our kids are in public school which, as you know, is not focused on the individual learner. We love our school and the dual language program our kids are in but I do wish the kids' learning styles were assessed and resulting plans to work with them were woven into their day.

    I always enjoy reading about your homeschool structure and how you put it together!


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