I don’t know what style of homeschooling that is occurring with us right now. Are we to consider ourselves free range? Unschooling? I can’t list the other ideas such as Waldorf or Montessori because we use online lessons and media to educate although we also garden, do forest walks, and are learning other languages. I can’t say public or charter because I decided against signing up with a structured school. I am definitely not Thomas Jefferson or Classic because we just have no real structure.
My son is 5 years old. I have no intention of starting to drill him and test him, or to even teach him to read yet. But I will tell you that this kid has the best life and education daily. He already understands math and the alphabet and he can figure out words randomly. He knows more about dinosaurs and all the Mesozoic eras, most of the dinosaur types (or breeds? I’m not a dinosaur fan, my dino know how is being forced upon me). He knows about the environment, GMO’s and organics because his mother is part granola-hippy earth lover. He knows about the solar system. Some gardening, some baking, animal husbandry, cleaning, farming, machinery, and many other things I can’t think of right now…
He’s advanced in his language skills and he loves to learn and explore. He has been wide eyed and beyond curious since birth, pushing himself into the next thing and the next idea. He is so in his head that I often have to call him a few times even when we are in the same room.
I thought of doing the whole chalkboard, one room for the class, structured curriculum and hours. Then I shuddered and let that awful idea dissipate from the darkness whence it came.
I was a smart kid that was always exploring and reading and building…and then school happened.
I’m not saying that this is the truth for even many. I just don’t want my son to lose his passion and drive. He has to choose what he learns and how. He can learn so much anywhere and anytime. Instead of being in a classroom 6 hours a day he is at the beach building kingdoms, visiting family, playing in Tahoe with his godparents, at home with his mama making food from scratch, traveling to Oregon, and all that time and with all that fun he is learning about life, math, science, history, social science, reading, vocabulary.
Just a trip to the grocery store invites a lesson in math and finances, how to shop wisely and be shrewd with the funds. He also learns about produce in season and why we prefer organic and that leads to discussions about bio diverse farming vs corporate farming, food forest, urban farming, and how we can take care of nature, improve the top soil and insects, which ones are beneficial and why and which ones aren’t and what plants and animals rid our gardens of these pests. You see? Just picking out an apple for today’s snack has just taught Arjan all about the various ways to farm and the pros and cons on into the eco system and beyond to the Universe and what it’s all about. And that was just shopping for fruit.
Now, I only have one little boy that is ready for homeschooling so I’ll try not to act so well versed in the whole thing. I’m sure by the time he is getting into big math and science I will have to ship him out to a tutor or class. In the meantime, it’s all fun and rainbows. His brother is homeschooling naturally but really doesn’t start for a couple years.
I am preparing one long drawer in the dining room for all his school stuff and he will do ABCMouse and some other educational programs an hour a day five days a week. That’s it. Everyone who reads my blogs knows how we love our library. We drag home big, heavy bags weekly and we read them all. We watch educational documentaries. And we talk about everything all the time.
Outdoors, that is the biggest…and limit the TV. I’ve planted a food forest in our own yards and now we have the chickens so that right there is some learning.
I may be foolish but I love this process and I want us all to thrive and really have fun. I didn’t do so well in school. I was bright but lazy with the studying and homework. It was my Achilles heal. I study and read so much now. I still skim and I never complete any book. I do take notes here and there and talk about what I learned to cement the important things. I’m probably better informed today than all the years in college. The trick is to study only that which you love and do it. Then the joy comes, the thriving spirit.
I home make, raise children, write, read, grow my urban farm. Those are my joys and I’m happier than ever. That’s what I want to teach my children. Find what you love and dive in.
But most importantly, my children are learning about themselves and their feelings. They are learning about community and family. They are finding those interest that really excites them. They are being allowed to evolve at their own pace…not someone else’s guidelines or what a school program says that they need to be doing daily. If they want to study all day on Monday they can, if on Tuesday they want to be left to themselves and play in the sand under the tree most of the day they can. If they are having an off day they can do what they need to do to take care of themselves. Usually, the next day they are rested and ready to explore and learn more.
We have routines through the day but nothing is solid because we are human and our energy levels and emotions vary each day. Things need to have some fluidity so that we can continue to enjoy our life and really blossom. My children are learning something I didn’t get in my childhood. They are learning to honor and care for themselves well. They will be able to truly love learning and see that it is an artfully done journey into the world and the mind.