Wednesday, June 6, 2007

By request...home-learning

I was asked to share a little about our home-learning journey, why and how we homeschool. Unlike the fantabulous Rachael, I don't have anything written down...hmmm...perhaps I should have something written down? Might help keep things like this short and succinct, huh?

Why do we homeschool? There must be as many different answers to that question as there are homeschooling families. So I'll share a wee bit behind our thinking. We first explored the idea of keeping M7 at home when she was very little. We were very intentional choosing to have children, and want to be intentional about all of our parenting choices rather than following the status quo without question. So the education of our children seemed to be a pretty major area to do some heavy thinking on.

Even Dh & I approached it initially from different viewpoints. He was concerned with the spiritual aspect of sending Christian kids into a non-Christian environment without having provided them with critical thinking skills as a framework to filter what they were exposed to.

I was basically an intellectual snob, who wanted my kids to be exposed to as much learning stuff as possible, and I knew this would not be happening in a class of 30+ kids. I was also concerned, on a much more basic "over-protective" Mummy level, with how my delicate, introverted "good" child would do in large classes where her love of learning could be quickly extinguished.

The more important reasons for us now centre around simply being with these kids that we've chosen to have, and living life with them. We have goals and adventures planned as a family, and it makes no sense to exclude our children from the very mundane "getting the family work (chores)" done to helping us decide on the "big picture" family stuff. It's very straight forward for Dh. It's our responsibility as their parents to educate them and we shouldn't "outsource" that responsibility (spot the IT geek).

How do we homeschool? I can tell you how we don't homeschool. We don't replicate the classroom at our kitchen table. No timetables, no curriculum (except for Maths), no assessment.

The journey has been a very organic process for us, changing as our family needs change, as we develop our philosophy a little more, as Mummy reads another good concept in a homeschooling book.

My early reading got me interested in the concept of a Classical Education as espoused by Dorothy Sayers and Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. However, it seemed too rigid for someone of my slightly lazy disposition to be able to "implement upon my children" without driving myself mad.

We are what I'd label (if I had to) "relaxed homelearners" now; leaning heavily upon a Charlotte Mason/Living Books approach with a bit of Unit Study stuff thrown in for good measure. It hasn't been difficult for me, as a book-a-holic, to put emphasis on my kids reading good literature (yes, The Saddle Club is a dirty word in this house). It gives me a chance to re-read, or even jump into for the first time, fantastic books with the kids. We don't do a lot of formal stuff at all.

Personally, I greatly admire Clay and Sally Clarkson, and Sally's writings as a Christian homeschooling mama have been a huge encouragement to me.

I'd love to say more! Pop over for a coffee or tea and we can really get into it. I'll finish by, hopefully, dispelling a myth about what "kind of people" can homeschool. I am often told "oh wow, I could never do that. You're so amazing." (Ok, I really know they're thinking "freak!") Spend a day with me and my kids and you will see that I am a normal, average mother who believes that God's will for our family is to be and learn at home together.