What Type of Homeschoolers Are We, Anyway? Part 2

Over the past month or so I’ve been trying to organise my messy thoughts.  This is nothing unusual.  Everything about me is usually in a state of disarray.  But to me, this was more important than my usual scatty mumblings.

When we first started home schooling, my children’s eagerness to learn knew no bounds.  We used ACE, a work book curriculum, and they thrived….until about twelve months down the line.  They had learnt to count, add and subtract and most importantly they had learnt to read.  Apathy began to set in when they found there was a daily onslaught of work pages, followed by more work pages.  My instinct was to ditch the curriculum and go our own way, using history as our base.  It probably took another ten months for me to have the courage of my convictions and do just that.  The children were six and seven by then and we haven’t really looked back since.  Their desire to learn returned immediately.  Add that to their innate enthusiasm about everything and anything and I had a recipe for home schooling bliss.

Life changes though, and the people along with it.  The children are growing up, and one by one are slowly moving away from the make-believe dress-up play, which had always been such a delight and had brought our studies alive, to more individualised interests.  We all still enjoy learning together and all three love our hands on activities, but they have more opinions now about what they do and don’t want to spend their time on.  A year or so ago, I was teaching three very similar children, but over that time they have developed into three very different children, each bringing their own ‘something special’ to our home school table.  It now seems such a waste not to harness these variances.  To keep them tied to my own plans, means we see more of me and less of them.  Yet this does them a disservice.  They have so much more to contribute now, so many ideas and variety.  I love it!

Over the Christmas period, T12 made the most wonderful plans for our garden.  He drew a to-scale model, using much maths to do so; built a to-scale Lego model of his plans and then proceeded to search the web sourcing the least expensive way to erect poly-tunnels and buy seeds.  He wrote lists-price lists, bed lists, pest lists, veg lists.  He wrote copious notes about his plans so he wouldn’t forget all he had researched.  Most of all he did it all without direction, help or school planning from his mother.  He was absorbed, enthusiastic and actively teaching himself all he needed to learn.  There was something about this whole learning process.  An ease.  For him, for me, for Gary.  All he required was a sounding board and the promise of financial help to realise his vegetarian dream.  I decided there and then I wanted more of this.

This term the children chose individual projects to work at each day.  I’m here to help as much as they need, but really I’ve been astounded by how successful it has been, and how ‘into’ their projects they all are.  Their plans far surpass my own, and their excitement about their own ideas far surpasses the excitement they feel towards mine.  They are beginning to take full ownership of their education and it has been truly special to watch.

And I think it is these observations which have encouraged us as a family to refine and simplify our definition of what it means to be educated.  Our priorities are for the children to be numerate, literate, with a good work ethic and eager to learn.  In fact eagerness to learn is probably top of my list.  I’m not sure you can hold a person back from learning if their desire to do so is strong.  The question is how to harness this eagerness, this passion for learning?

Please do feel free to join in the discussion and leave a comment.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading what everyone had to say yesterday and it gave me much food for thought!

21 comments

  1. This is so interesting. Life is never static and the one thing a homeschool has over a school is its flexibility. you can see something needs to change and you are able to change to meet your children’s needs. what a great freedom to have!

  2. I’m thoroughly enjoying reading these posts, and all the discussion.

    The world is changing faster than ever. Information about just about any subject is now available instantly, for free, at the touch of a button. We can teach ourselves anything we want to learn (how exciting!). We can’t possibly predict what our children will need to know over the course of their adult lives. All we can do is encourage their innate curiosity and love of learning, and gently guide them as they find their own path toward their passions and the knowledge and skills they will need to pursue them.

    I try to remember to be kind to myself, too, along my own wobbly route to getting this balance right!

  3. I don’t have much else to add to your post and everyone’s insights, except to say that the independence and ownership that you’re witnessing in your older children is a sign that you’re on the right track! 🙂

    1. Thanks Hwee. It feels it is time to re-evaluate and maybe take a step even further towards the children taking even more ownership of their education. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation. I value your’s and Lucinda’s contribution, because we all seem to be moving in a similar direction.

  4. sounds like a wonderful way to spend the day. In fact, it sounds a lot like the days I have with my grandchildren when they are with me. Can you school me ( pun intended) on where I can find data on college entrance/standardized test scores/social success for home school students? Thanks. And I cant wait to see a picture of that garden!

    1. It’s been years since I checked out research. I am confident it works because I can see success in my children. Probably if you googled it you would find what you were looking for. Sorry I can’t help you with anything more specific.

  5. The way you home educate is inspirational! Allowing the children to follow their own interests is a great foundation for whatever they go onto do, whether it’s university or a vocational career. One of my young home educated friends said last summer “what’s the point if you don’t do exams?” and I felt a bit sad for her; exams are not the whole point or even part of the point – they’re just a tool. The sort of solid base of knowledge, interest and self-direction that you’re building is a lifetime’s gift.

  6. Not being a homeschooler, my experience to yours is often the opposite, in that I find the girls are becoming less and less eager to learn, and it is disheartening – and it can be difficult to find ways to reconcile that. Just as everyone said 🙂 the passion your kids have, their independence and willingness to jump into these projects seems clear you are on the right track. And I can’t imagine your opinion about this matter offensive to anyone 🙂

    1. At least your girls have you, showing them that learning can be fun, fulfilling and full of wonder. I still can’t believe your not a homeschooler (or at least a teacher), I think you might have missed your vocation – you are very good!

  7. I do understand about change. It is so important to encourage independence, but at the same time, it is difficult to let go and let them fly. I sometimes forget, but not long before I am reminded, that they really do know what they are doing. I find myself repeating and repeating and then getting the “I got it on your first go-round” look. They are not babies any longer.

    These posts are so very interesting. As you are writing, I am reading Walden by Thoreau. I am finding many similarities in the two. Interesting.

    1. Thank you so much for mentioning Walden. Being the highly uneducated person I am, I had no idea what you were talking about so I googled it. It looks just up my street, so I’ve ordered it off Amazon for a penny, and am really looking forward to reading it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s