So you've decided to homeschool.
You have to tell the grandparents. Your friends. Your in laws. The school. We've had our share of concerned friends and family. Our awkward moments with teachers whom we very much admire. Flat out rudeness from folks who don't even know us all that well, and even from some that do. Homeschooling is on the rise, up 74% since 1999, but it is still alternative education. Most people don't know much about it. Educate them! However, if you go spouting off why the public school system sucks and your kids are too good for it, your bound to loose a few good friends. Don't do that. Tread gently, treat others as you wish to be treated. With a little time you'll find that most of your friends & family, regardless of their opinion, support your choice of choosing to keep your kids home.
I think this next step is the biggest, hardest step for anyone that has become accustomed to to the rhythm of the school system. Actually keeping the kids home that first year. The two books I read that helped me the most during this journey were Deschooling Gently and Homeschooling our Children Unschooling Ourselves. After that I began to devour anything and everything by John Holt that my local library had.
I was a stay at home mom. My kids & I enjoyed every summer vacation together up until this point. I never was ready for them to go back after vacation, we had fun as a group. We enjoyed each other. And yet somehow as that August date rolled around (and after another move, this time from Alaska to the midwest) I had anxiety about our decision. I had a pile of curriculum to use. Far too many. I had a daily schedule we were to follow. Ahh yes, that's gone by the wayside as well. I had filed my letter to the state of Wisconsin, registering us as homeschoolers. All my little ducks were in a row. Or so I thought. We were ready to start school at home. All I was missing was a little bell to ring.
I use the term school at home because that is exactly what we did for the first two years. We followed a very set curriculum, we had a schedule. For some people this works wonderfully well. For us, it did not. My oldest did fairly well with it, most likely due to him having been in the public school system for longer. However as a whole, this style did not fit our family. So as I read more about unschooling and Waldorf Education we slowly began to loosen up. To find our groove. At this point, aside from math, we've ditched curriculum all together and instead use a loose guide of suggested topics to cover in each grade (Waldorf). We study these in blocks (unit studies) one subject at a time, in depth, as the children wish to do them using what homeschoolers refer to as living books. Basically you check out every book on rocks from your library when you do a geology unit. After all, it is far more engaging to learn geology from an enthusiastic geologist than a dry text book.
This was a long bumpy road of really learning to trust myself as a parent. To find what worked for our family. To realize what I truly want to teach my children. To be able to see my kids learning without testing them or holding them accountable to someone else's standards. Oh my, it has not been easy. But rewarding beyond words. Truly, for me, it was the path I was destined to take…. it has been a perfect fit for our family in so many ways. I finally realized that my children's character and heart is what I am most concerned for. Wether they learn to read at age 5 or age 9 is of little concern to me now, nor will it be an admittance question on their college application someday. However if I can instill a genuine love and concern for others in their hearts, I will have done them and the world they live in a great service.
So the next thing to do? Find your homeschool community, you'll need them…… more on that tomorrow.
(*as a bit of a disclaimer, I'd like to mention that the daddy of the house is very supportive and involved in educating our children, however with him working full time and me being the one home with the kids, I've decided to write this from my point of view*)