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Transparent thoughts on homeschool

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I imagine homeschool as a new country.  I don’t speak the language.  I don’t know the customs.  I’m a tad fearful of the natives. 

For this reason, I’ve reserved the right to change my flight plans at any point. 

Here are a few thoughts on my itinerary.

It seems many people I encounter homeschool because of their Christian faith.  That is not why I want to homeschool.  I am not afraid of public schools in that sense.  I am not afraid of my child learning different philosophies or even being steeped in them.  Secular classrooms did more to shape my faith than Sunday school.  They caused me to question, dig in, find reasons for why I believed, and learn that Jesus is bigger than I thought. 

So why am I homeschooling?  I want to preserve a strong love of learning.  I want my kids to have all the flexibility in the world to explore subjects they love.  I’m not a fan of testing and grading.  I’m not a fan of rewards as motivators. 

**I do not think there is anything WRONG with public school.  I had a public school education and loved it.  And, again, I reserve the right to change my mind at any point and enroll my kids in public school.   🙂

Now what kind of homeschool do I want to do?  I imagine that will change and morph as we acclimate to the culture.  I feel comfortable in saying we won’t do a traditional method.  I started out certain I would do Waldorf.  After I put away my pentatonic recorder and dropped out of Waldorf school…I thought unschool.  Unschooling fits me.  But does it fit my kids?  Hmmm.  And then I also think Charlotte Mason is dreamy.  And I absolutely did not plan on doing anything formal until first grade. 

Then Norah changed my plan.  She told me she wanted to go to school.  She pointed to all her friends who go to school.  She begged me to let her join a classroom.  She even asked to watch youtube videos of kindergarten classes.  In a search for compromise, I looked into a co-op that offered one class a week but they were full.  And then I was reminded of a brilliant woman in my community who homeschools.  I emailed her and asked her she would hold my hand.  She immediately invited me over for coffee. 

She uses the classical model with her children and enrolls them in Classical Conversations.  I’d heard of CC before and dismissed it as not a good fit.  But I gave it a second look now that I know Norah a bit better.  The classical model is one of the more rigorous of methods.  A far cry from my “nothing formal until first grade” plan. 

I took a deep breath and bought the ticket.  I can always change my mind. 

Norah is super excited.  At the very least, CC will give us a structure for our trial run year.  And that will give my husband peace of mind.  He knows my lack of discipline and tendency to jump from one idea to another with astonishing speed.  I’m boarding the plane!

Unschooling in Action

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I’m in the early, early stages of deciding our school path.  I often battle with the voices in my head (“is it ok that she isn’t in preschool?” “shouldn’t I be doing more?”) and the real voices around me (“why isn’t she in preschool?”).  Right now, we unschool.  A simple, but loaded word, which means following the child’s desire to learn.  I try to use everyday moments as teaching opportunities and if she displays some interest, we follow it.  This has led to impromptu hula dance lessons on youtube, library searches for stories of female lighthouse keepers, and discussions about bullfrog ears. 

I have long loved an Audre Lorde quote “The learning process can be incited.  Literally incited–like a riot.” 

For the last two days, she’s been working on something secret.  She has asked me to spell some words for her.  And she requested masking tape.  Today, she asked me to read her a book.  I almost fell over when the book she wanted me to read was her own!  Here it is (inspired liberally by Olivia the pig):

Title Page (with author’s name prominently placed)

Olivia played the piano

This one is supposed to say “Olivia brushes her teeth.  Moves the cat.  Moves the cat”

Then they danced

This one is supposed to say “Olivia was disappointed.”  I remember yelling the letters for “disappointed” for her yesterday as I was making the beds.

The end

The whole thing was gloriously taped together with 4yr old masking tape abandon!