I’ve never been one to want to do things the conventional way. As a matter of fact, if there are rules, then I’m one of the first to try to break them. I’ve always been this way.
One year, when I was in high school, I skipped sixty four days of school in one year. SIXTY-FOUR.
Craziest part was, even after missing so much school, my grades remained high. There are any number of theories you could form based on that, but I’m not going to go into that. It’s neither here nor there. The point?
I hate rules.
So, when I began homeschooling my daughter, we started with an Unschooling philosophy and it’s one I firmly support. Now, after getting curriculum for her, I actually support it even more, but I can understand the reservations people have for this ideology, because it is not without its challenges.
I decided to get the curriculum more for me than her, to be honest with you. I felt like I wanted a sort of guideline to go by…one I could add to or take away from as I felt was needed for my daughter. With Unschooling, I wasn’t sure if I was providing all of the experiences she might need…whatever that even means.
Again…rules and guidelines that I grapple with constantly.
Who makes the rule that a 5-year old should know this and that and should be able to do this and that? What are THEY, the rule makers, missing when they makes these rules?
What was I missing when I was Unschooling?
I’m always reflecting on things. Life, learning, experiences, etc. I’ve always been this way. Even when I was a teacher, I sat down each day to reflect on what did and didn’t work for my students. Reflection is vital and as I reflected on unschooling my daughter, I was worried about her technology time. I was worried about whether I was giving her enough experiences, especially on the day-to-day. We give her excellent experiences via travel, exploration, and just simply having fun as a child, but what if there was something I was missing? I was also concerned with the accountability that is required by the state, regardless of how you choose to let your child learn.
All of these concerns increased my insecurity with unschooling, even though I firmly believe in it.
So, I bought a curriculum for her. I have to say, it’s fantastic. We are currently using the BookShark Literature-Based Curriculum and it gives me a flexible schedule with suggestions for activities, plus a multitude of books and resources! What I also love about it is that it has shown me how well we’ve actually done with our Unschooling. Kathryn is so far ahead of the game in math that we had to skip to lesson nine and may have to skip further…that is one of the beautiful things about homeschooling – you make it your own, based exclusively on your child’s needs and interests.
I don’t know why I worried so much, but I did. I just don’t want to fail my daughter. I tend to be inconsistent with things and her learning is such a priority to me. I want to be sure I was doing the very best for her. Having this curriculum has given me the freedom to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s shown just how well my daughter is doing and provides so many amazing books of various levels. I cannot tell you enough how much I really enjoy this curriculum.
In addition to the curriculum, she’s also learning French. She gets to use the Nikon for photography. She’s growing veggies and flowers in the yard. She gets to create every single day at whatever times she’d like. She explores in Nature. She cares for the birds and our pets. She travels wherever we go. She uses technology daily as well.
I am thrilled that we homeschool.
As a teacher, I really loved watching my students learn, but when you’re guiding your own child to new developments and watching her blossom through her own curiosities and interests, it’s just….I can’t put it into words. My heart swells and I could cry. It’s incredible and I’d not change a single thing.
If you really want to homeschool but feel afraid you may not be able to do it, I encourage you to give it a try. Public school is always there as an alternative should you or your child decide homeschool isn’t for you. You may think that I have an advantage as a former teacher, but I completely disagree. Sometimes I wish I had never taught, because that pedagogy gets stuck in your brain and well, it’s not necessarily the best, otherwise public school would be a resounding success and no child would ever actually be left behind! Get my drift here?
As parents, we know our children better than anyone else. As parents, we genuinely want to see our children succeed. As parents, we can not just teach and guide, but love them through it all. They will never get the same treatment in school, even from the most amazing teachers. We are the parents and it makes all the difference.
My tip for you as a homeschooler:
1. Document as much as you can. This includes any work your child does, from drawings to letters, to workbook pages, to projects.
2. Take pictures and make note of what’s happening in them. Keep these in a binder. I’m keeping mine in the curriculum binder behind each week’s lessons so they’re easy to find.
3. Have fun! I don’t like seeing school as separate from life. I don’t set a rigid schedule. The materials we have in the curriculum as meant to add to what we’re doing, not to be a separate thing that we can’t wait to get a break from (the conventional view of school by children, parents, and teachers alike). For us, learning is simply part of living and it’s FUN.
Now, if homeschool isn’t your thing. That’s cool! I didn’t homeschool my sons and they enjoyed school (for the most part). As parents, we have the right to choose what’s best for our children. It’s a beautiful thing to have the choice and I’m so grateful for that choice.
Have you homeschooled your children?
What was your experience?
What have been your greatest successes?
Did you have any challenges you could particularly difficult to overcome?
I’d love to hear from you.