Sunday, November 18, 2007

Homeschooling

I haven't posted as much as I thought I would. Hmm, sounds like the rest of my life.
Homeschooling is another way in which I qualify as "crunchy." It is actually one of the few things I planned to do before having kids that I have done with my kids!
Both C and I were fairly bored in school. We did well, but were bored. There were lots of other things I would have rather been doing, that would have been educational, that did not involve sitting at a desk in a room with 29 other kids making turkeys out of brown paper bags. So I decided that when I had kids, I would homeschool them. I think I may have had a bit more of a structure invisioned than what happens in our real like, but we are definitely not schooling!
I have one of those children who does what he wants. I have spilled more tears and yelled more horrible things at my child over a math worksheet. I finally wized up (with occasional slips back into coercion) and we are true unschoolers. Unschooling is often defined as child-led, organic, or unstructured learning. In our "school," we learn from life. Babies learn every day and their parents support that learning. There is no curricula needed for learning to walk, or talk, or learning colors, or the names of family members. This doesn't really change just becuase a child reaches the magic age of 5 or 6. We learn by reading books, cooking and making things in the kitchen. We visit people of many walks of life. We watch movies and use the internet. We make decisions like what's for dinner, what activity would be appropriate for today and is this choice right now going to leave me the ability to do that other thing I wanted to do. This is big for me. In school, everything is external. The schedule is 100% determined by adults. Of course there is time for lunch, math and art. It got scheduled in back in May, taking into account only the state standards and the need of the teaching professionals. Our schedule is definitely organic. M is learning that if he spends all morning playing computer games, he will be hungry and not dressed when his friends come out to play. (Getting him to apply this to the next day is a challenge--he is 9 after all). We make up our day based on the needs of the individuals in our family. We have a young baby so life is a lot simpler than it was just back in August. When E gets older, we'll do more. When we're sick, we lay around and take care of our bodies. Learning doesn't stop. We have fabulous lessons on the human body and immune systems when we're sick!
The questions I always get are 1) what about socialization? 2)what about math? 3)how will he adjust to the "real world?"
1) We are sometimes over-socialized! We keep very busy. But mostly I respond, "what is normal socialization about living your life with 3o people who were all born within 12 months of you? And if you have an August birthday you are always the youngest, and and October birthday, you are always the oldest? You won't always be the oldest or youngest. You may have nothing in common with those 30 other people. How do you as an adult pick friends? By interest, talent, personality, similar circumstances at least. My kids have friends of all ages. I often get amazed compliments on M because he will sit down and carry on a real conversation with adults. He had a great conversation with an elderly lady at the park one day. Like, a give and take conversation. She was appalled. Pleasantly. He's also great with little kids, and actually likes them.
We do take part in Village Home, where we take classes and M is leading a member activity this term. We go to church. We take community classes from time to time. We are on the fund raising activities committee for our library.
2)Math is a part of life. We cook, we measure, we learn about space and area and shapes. We learn about more and less. How many books will fit on the shelf and how many do we need to get rid of? When M wanted to know more about pieces, he learned about fractions. He is still exploring them. But he will probably never forget his lessons about fractions, because he's learning of his own volition. I have not forced it on him. When he wants to figure out something else, he'll learn the math concept he has to. I'll help him. And honestly, how much algebra do I use on a daily basis? Only the story problem kind! And I haven't needed calculus yet.
3)We live in the real world. Just like my statements about age-grouping children. We learn the things that interest us or that we need to know. We live in our world. We have a garden and learn about the Earth and how amazing it is. We go to the store and learn about commercialization and how we can take care of our bodies and families and minds by making our own choices without resorting to brand worship. We learn about Heavenly Father and his love for us and how important this life is--how every human has value and deserves love and respect.
Our children learn from us the things we feel are important. I get to spend every day with the people I love most in the whole universe. I get to watch their faces when they make a new discovery or "get" something they have been working hard to understand. I don't have to wonder how they spent their day or what they were told by another child or adult. I don't have to worry what junk they were fed by the cafeteria or if they were in a safe environment. I know the answers.
Homeschooling is the best thing I've ever done. It is also the hardest. M has knack for pushing every button I have, repeatedly, and hard. I question my decisions. I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. But I also know that he would have the Spirit crushed right out of him in school. I suppose it's being a mom to question and to worry. Especially with the oldest. But I know in my heart that I'm doing what I should be.

1 comment:

Lanna said...

Excellent post, well done, you :) Long live crunchy education