When Zoe was four years old she went to preschool. I don't remember the exact hours, but I know it started early in the morning and got out at least a couple hours after lunch. After school and on weekends Zoe watched TV. Constantly. When I tried to get her to do other things, like you know, play, she would cry or get "bored" or simply not know what to do with herself. Zoe was overstimulated. Only I didn't know it yet. So I perpetuated it.
Being overstimulated also affected Zoe's attitude. When she wasn't being entertained (by school or TV) she was fussy, cranky, and full of sass. To be honest with you, we didn't really like each other. She was constantly flip with me, and I was more than happy to avoid her by using the TV, AKA, they babysitter.
Then we took a family vacation the summer before Zoe began kindergarten. For a week we played at the beach, went for walks, and ate together as a family. Something strange started to happen to Zoe as the week progressed. She became sweeter and less overstimulated. She was calm. We got along. We didn't fight. We didn't have things to do, places to be, TV to watch.
I had a revelation. What if school and TV were wrong for her? What if Zoe could be nice like this all the time? I so badly wanted to have a good relationship with her. I had always fantasized about homeschooling when she was just a tiny baby. Only when problems arose had I dropped the idea. Maybe it was time to go back to it. At least to try.
And that's how we began homeschooling.
Now, I'm not saying we never watch TV anymore. We watch a little. But cutting drastically back on the habit was crucial for us.
It took a full year without school and TV before Zoe learned how to play. We spent most of that year reading together and being outside (and we still spend most of our time that way). I read to her with my finger, and she naturally followed my finger with her eyes, thus learning to read by sight. Well, she didn't learn to read in one year, but after two years of reading together that way she was reading on her own. There's even a book about it that I read back then. It's called, Teach a Child to Read With Children's Books.
From the time I began homeschooling her, Zoe was also very interested in writing. She wanted to write years before she could read. The Charlotte Mason homeschooling philosophy calls this "copywork." And Zoe was really into it. She still is.
Simply by being around her older sister, Ashley has experienced our joys in homeschooling too. The low stress environment. The ability to learn about what interests you most. Field trips. Being outside. Both girls spend most of the day reading (Zoe actually reading, and Ashley looking at books). Ashley often wants to do whatever Zoe is doing. And they both use Time4Learning.com for educational games for an hour or so a day.
One of their favorite times of day is definitely Andy's bedtime reading. They have been obsessed with Burgess books (I think they've read three or four now). Also Andy has been reading them this book, Colonial Living.
This book isn't about war. It's all about daily living in the colonial time.
The illustrations are great.
Zoe was crazy for the hair designs :-)
Here's a list of some of some of the Burgess books too, in case you're wondering:
The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver
Old Granny Fox
Old Man Coyote
The Burgess Bird Book for Children