When I first started homeschooling, it was just me and my son against the world. At least, it sure felt that way to me because we were truly doing something completely different than what was the accepted norm in our neighborhood, church and community. Although the laws protected homeschooling in Ontario, no one in our area was openly homeschooling except for my friend, the one who gave me the idea in the first place. But, I didn’t let that stop me. I knew in my heart I was doing what was best for my son.
I started out by following and mimicking my friend. She gave me one example, one perspective of homeschooling and watching her in action helped me to find my own way. She used a boxed curriculum (abeka) and her style was what I would term “school at home”. She basically followed the lesson plans and used the work books to-a-T, and there is nothing wrong with that if it works for your family. I will say a boxed curriculum certainly takes the guess work out. All the lesson plans and work books are there.
Naturally, I purchased the same curriculum for my son to use that year. And, this is what I quickly discovered:
Worksheet after worksheet is an incredibly boring way to learn; my son didn’t enjoy it; it went against his natural learning style. We both prefer to take a more creative approach and be more hands-on.
But I had to start somewhere and this was the only example I had. In the end we used less than half of the workbooks, but I did find the lesson plans to be of some value, especially helping my son to master his letters and sounds. In no time at all he was reading and writing, especially now that the pressure to conform and catch up to his classmates was lifted.
It was fun to combine forces with my friend and do some of our homeschooling together. We even ate breakfast together sometimes. Because of our different teaching styles, she would send her two children over to my home for the “fun stuff” like arts and crafts and nature walks. The four of us would visit ponds and watch frogs in their natural habitat. We’d paint, cut, glue, and mold Play dough. We’d walk to the library and bring home story books and just sit and read them together.
That first year I definitely unschooled my son. I did give him some specific lessons to teach him how to read and write his letters, how to tell time and do basic addition and subtraction, but I never pushed these subjects on him and we did them in little doses. Mostly we simply enjoyed each other’s company and pursued anything which interested him. For example, with the frogs we observed at the pond, we ended up making a frog life cycle and reading up on frogs, but only as long as that held my son’s attention. I loved the philosophy and freedom of unschooling and fully embraced it.
We called ourselves “2 Cute Explorers” because, on the whole, it was just the two of us wandering down this new path together, hand in hand, stopping to admire each little ladybug, caterpillar and butterfly. And it was an experience that I will always treasure.