Okay, I left for a few minutes but I just had to come back and write about this. If you’ve read this blog at all you know that I am working towards changing our homeschool. “School at home’ just doesn’t really work for us….our life has too much flux for us to be able to sit at the table six hours a day and do book work…and really, why would we want to? In order to educate myself I’ve been reading many, many books on lifestyle of learning, child-directed learning, unschooling, eclectic homeschooling, etc. To me, it all seems basically the same, though of course there are some differences between the various methods. I am constantly amazed at the things I read or even hear people say about homeschooling or God forbid unschooling….it’s like they believe we all live in a bubble, never going out in public and experiencing a thing! I know, because my children spent some time in a private school, that they are having better experiences now than they did when they were there. We had absolutely no time to play sports, take music lessons, draw or read just for the fun of it. It was wake up, eat breakfast and dress, grab your backpack and get out the door to drop them off at the school. Once I picked them up it was a quick snack, do the homework, make dinner (they might get to play while I do this if they were lucky), eat, shower, go to bed so you can get up for school the next day. There was nothing wrong with the school or the teachers as far as that goes. I truly believe they all had the best interest of the children at heart and were doing what they thought was best. However, that situation became unsuitable for our children for various reasons and I believe they are so much better for it. They have a love for learning that I don’t think they had before….of course there are still some things they don’t love, but overall they pursue knowledge because they enjoy possessing it. Both of the older kids have taught themselves to draw, and to do it well….I had no hand in that except to take them to the library to get the books. They have devoured so many books on their various interests…..space, video-gaming, all sorts of animals. They have time and LOVE to watch shows on Animal Planet, the History channel, Discovery…..all learning shows. We watch our share of cartoons and family movies but there is so much else we do. We have learned about the geography of our country simply from moving and discussing where we were and where we’re going. We’ve learned about other countries by discussing the various countries where Daddy was working and finding them on the map….and have learned the time differences between our country and those. The kids have discovered things about direction (N,S,E,W) and the wind just from playing outside with homemade parachutes/kites. We’ve experienced Thai food, Mexican food, American food, Italian food, etc. My kids are learning to cook, care for animals, care for babies…..I could go on and on. My point is, we DO NOT live in a bubble. We experience life, probably much more than many children and families do that attend public or private school. We’re not better, but this learning method has definitely been better for us. It’s not for everyone….there are many people who cannot homeschool for various reasons. I’m just so thankful that we have the opportunity. Some days are rough, as for all families regardless of the schooling situation or family size. I am just astounded at what people believe, just because they hear a teacher say it or a public figure…..our educational system in this country is not working…..why would it always be a major topic of discussion during election times if it was? It’s always one of the areas needing to be ‘improved’….so I’m not sure why people are so gung-ho for the institutionalized schooling. There are some amazing teachers and amazing students and parents that utilize the schools…..often times they are crippled by the ‘system’ ….too much political junk to deal with to be able to do the job they want to do and know they could do. Many children fall between the cracks and despite the No Child Left Behind policy, numerous children are left behind even as they are passed to the next grade. We have struggles in our homeschool just like anyone does whether it’s at home or in a school building with a certified teacher. However, we have the freedom to move at a slower pace or to move more quickly according to each child’s needs and what our family needs at the time. My thinking has undergone a change over time. We’re finishing up our 4th year of homeschooling and I no longer do ‘school at home’. We do have some workbooks, there are times that we sit at the table and ‘do schoolwork’ but it’s much less formal. I am more comfortable with letting the kids pursue their interests, and I’m okay with missing a day or two of math or grammar. They are learning so much, and I hope we keep moving in the direction of child-led/unschooling…..because I am in awe of what they know that I have not taught them!
Okay my ‘rant’ is over, at least for now. I’ll go back to my reading now. 😉