Ok, so I’ve been asked what exactly am I all about, as far as schooling.
I believe homeschooling is far superior to public or private schooling. This is for the many reason I had already mentioned over the last 2 years and most of the reasons other homeschoolers agree on as well. I’ve seen a love of learning dissolve in the classroom and then return after a few months of homeschooling. I’ve seen how the majority of kids treat each other in a school setting, and the result of it. No matter what anyone says, it is NOT healthy for them to experience. I’ve seen biased teachers and questionable janitors. I’ve seen my gifted child be ignored, stifled, humiliated, and berated – by the 1st grade teacher. I’ve seen how boring the day is at school. Kids need more play time, more 1-on-1 attention, and more time for themselves. I’ve seen my 4 yr old in a rage and full temper tantrum 2 minutes after coming out of preschool because he wanted me to buy him something. He already knew at that age he had to be fully “on” for those 3 hours – or it’s the time-out chair. I’ve seen how these buildings are set up like prisons – moving around together at the bell, having orders barked at you by those in charge (stand still, don’t touch, hands folded, no talking, walk in a straight line), rewards and punishments for how well they obey, barred windows, one 20 minute recess a day (maybe), no family allowed inside, and a police guard at the front door. I’ve seen educational concepts that take several months to master at school learned in a week at home. I really do believe most teachers are there for very noble reasons and go into teaching wanting to change the world. And then they realize they can’t and end up just conforming to the rules and sticking by the rigid curriculum they’re given. I have seen more good teachers than bad over the years, but in my town, what teacher you get is not up to you. And most of the time, the school you end up in is not up to you either. I don't see why we should take that risk. Thankfully, at least high school offers a few more choices here.
I have yet to find a bad thing about homeschooling. I figure, the reasons parents put their kids in school is for academic and/or social reasons. Not to mention, wanting to have 6 hours to themselves or needing someplace to put the kids while they’re at work. As far as academics, a homeschooler has an ideal situation (and I’m talking about the majority of us, not the .00001% of parents/guardians who use homeschooling as an excuse for neglect and abuse). A program tailored to his needs and abilities, very low student to teacher ratio, and a great deal of the day geared toward what he’s interesting in. There are hundreds of resources to use and guidelines to follow if you so choose. I find homeschooling socially superior as well. Kids are not forced to spend 30 hours a week with 25 other kids their age – whether they like them or not. Homeschooled kids are able to choose who they want to be around and make friends with and see them however often works for them. My kids have incredible social lives now. From the time they were born, they were outgoing, and at school they were in the popular circles. That has carried over into homeschooling, but now their friendships are so much deeper and more real. Their calendars are as full as they choose them to be (and that’s pretty full). Homeschooling fits into any budget, works in any kind of setting, and the children grow up happier, healthier, better educated, more self-confident, more independent, know what they want out of life, and thrive socially.
I have decided against a specific label for our method of homeschooling. We can certainly be categorized with many labels, but we’ll never be able to assert ourselves as true purists of any one recognized method. I’ll just maintain that our family probably fits best in the very broad spectrum of relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. This is general enough to not have to feel we have to “live up” to certain requirements of any one label. We just live our lives and do what comes naturally. Although, we seem to be radical unschoolers to many, we could be probably be categorized into any of the following homeschooling methods because of where the kids’ interests take them: regular ol’ unschooling, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, Unit Studies, and Literature Based. I’ve even researched distance learning and virtual schools (in case the kids ever want to try that). We’ve dabbled with a few ideas from Enki, Waldorf, Thomas Jefferson, and Montessori – it all depends on what the kids feel like playing around with at the time. We may even try a boxed curriculum one day. We could probably fit anywhere except School-at-Home. I’ve read all about the different homeschooling methods and pick out things I know the kids will enjoy. I like to think of our homeschooling as an “Infinite Mosaic”.
Infinite – immeasurably great. Unbounded or unlimited; boundless
Mosaic – composed of a combination of diverse elements (http://dictionary.reference.com/ )
It’s all learning, it’s all life, it’s all great stuff.
The underlying basis for us is that the children are in charge of their educations. They own it. Their learning is child-led and self-directed. This year they have asked for more of a structured rhythm to the day. I offered them a multitude of suggestions as to how we could implement this. They have always loved the Charlotte Mason activities and want their schedule to mainly consist of those. With them, I created what I think is a fun, very do-able schedule that they will enjoy. It seems to have enough routine and rhythm whereas they will both feel confident and comfortable. And of course, the kids will decide when and if anything in the schedule needs changing. In addition to complete control over their learning, they have freedom over their bedtimes, TV time (I do have an R+ ratings block on each TV for their own safety), meals, clothing, and chores. This may seem unharmonious in the scheme of things, but in having these freedoms, they live very respectfully and wisely. They are all in bed between 9pm and 10:30pm, the TV is off most of the day now and they have learned to compromise on what they do watch, they make healthy food choices and enjoy family meals together, and they wear whatever they choose - and I’ll admit they do a much better job of coordinating clothes than I do. I will request help with chores, but do not demand it of them. In turn, they voluntarily do many household jobs because they know it feels good to live in a clean house. I have also always done my best to practice gentle discipline and respectful living.
Having my oldest child start public high school put us into yet another category. She has always had the choice to decide what she wants to do. After her decision was made last year, I did everything I could to research what would be as close to a perfect fit for her as could be. I was her biggest supporter and she felt confident about her decision. Together we found a wonderful place that she immediately fell in love with after the first visit. She is still in control of her education and owns it just as much as her siblings do theirs. And if they choose one day to go to school, I will once again do whatever I can to help them to that goal. It’s all ok.
Homeschooling is such an amazing journey. We try to live life to the fullest and feel very proud of who we are and what we accomplish. We live in an incredible city and beautiful state that easily provides and supplements the kids’ education. We are so fortunate to be able to live the way we choose.