The Start of Something New

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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.

 

Nov. 1, 2009 099 (2)

Collected leaves from a nature walk. An educational activity that is much more FUN than sitting at a desk for hours!

 

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5 Reasons Why I Homeschool

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1.  At home my child is physically and spiritually safe.  God is welcome in our home.  In our home there is no profanity, no immorality, no bullying, and no peer pressure.  At home our family values and my child’s self-esteem remain intact.  Do you want to know what my oldest son and daughter remember most about high school?  Hearing the f-word a million times a day, seeing kids smoke in front of the school (there was a designated spot for smoking!), a boy dropping his pants so that my daughter and others could see everything, condoms freely passed out to promote safe sex, smelling drugs in the locker room.  I have yet to walk into any public school where I saw evidence that my child would be as nurtured, as valued and as secure as he is at home.

2. At home I can tailor my son’s education to him.  I can personalize it.  I can take advantage of his preferred learning style.  My child learns at his own pace and spends as much time as he wants on any subject of his choosing. When he has the freedom to choose what he studies, and how he studies it, he gets more out of the experience, truly enjoys the learning process and retains more of what he learned because it was something that was of interest and value to him.

3. At home I can control what my son does and does not learn, when he learns certain things and also, how he learns things, like math for example (no fuzzy math in my home!). I love being in complete control over my son’s education instead of trusting it to others who most likely do not have his best interests at heart. They’re certainly not as invested in my son as I am. So, my son does memorize multiplication facts and he does know how to write in cursive and I don’t have to worry about him coming home and telling me that I taught him the wrong way to do something.

4. At home we have our own routine, calendar and rules.  Our time is truly our own which allows us to be flexible and relaxed.  My child wakes up when he’s had enough sleep.  He has time to sit and eat a hot breakfast every morning.  He can go to the bathroom or get a drink whenever he needs to without getting permission first.  He can choose when to play outside and when to come back inside.  He can freely move around as much as he likes.  He can talk freely while he eats lunch and there is no rush to finish.  He can spend as much time as he needs to learn a new concept before moving on.  He can take a sick day without worrying about catching up or falling behind.  He never has homework (what a waste of  family and kid time).  He can go on multiple “field-trips” and he can vacation with his family whenever it suits us.

5. Best of all, having him home equals valuable time I get to spend with him.  I would be missing out on so much if I sent him to school!  School takes up a big chunk of the day and what’s left over just isn’t enough.  I have always been the kind of mom who loves being around her children.  I can’t think of any way I’d rather spend my days than with my children (and my husband of course!).  Childhood is fleeting, it doesn’t last, and I want every minute of every day to count.