The Journey To Homeschooling
Thanks for reading! Monday, I shared my journey from theatre professional to homeschooling mama and today and I’m going to talk more about our journey into homeschooling:
When we were still in Vegas and my daughter, Violet, was very young, we happened very naturally upon the concept of homeschooling her. I guess it all began when I realized that the schools in Las Vegas were the 50th worst in the nation. But even beyond that fact, I’ve always been a researcher and do-it-yourself kind of person, so I never really doubted that I could do a better job teaching my kiddos than anyone else. I started researching the heck out of it and came upon a few great resources that really made me feel sure this was the right path for us. It didn’t take much to convince my husband. He knows how much I love to learn and was excited that I would be lighting that fire for our kids.
These days, Violet would be in either the first of second grade (she has an August birthday, so we could have gone either way). We are always learning and growing together—it doesn’t look at all like “school,” but it is a constant in our lives. We are members of a homeschool coop that meets regularly and we have a homeschool community center that was started by a friend of ours this year where the kids can take classes on various topics that the parents teach and play to their heart’s content. At the community center, we also put on full-scale theatre productions with the kids—the curtain just went down on “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” and we are about to start working on “Peter Pan”. I’ve spent my time being an assistant director and theatre coach with the kiddos and it’s been great fun for all of us.
We generally do what we call “Project Based Homeschooling” (a phrase coined by Lori Pickert who wrote the book of the same name). This is based on the Reggio Emilia approach to learning and is essentially a method of homeschooling that involves allowing the children to choose their interests and the parent or teacher diligently helps them pursue those interests. The most important thing is that they love what they are learning, that they are constantly learning to do it themselves (i.e. look things up by themselves on the internet, search the library catalogue when we go once a week or ask a librarian for help, pay for their own toys with their own money at the store etc.). They often pursue a project of some sort if they’re really interested in a subject. For instance, Violet loves to sew and she designed and built an octopus costume after a long interest in octopuses.
I keep track of all of our projects and these “lessons” in a notebook and include photos. This helps to remind me that we are constantly learning even though we don’t follow a curriculum. You’d be shocked how much math comes up in day-to-day life (baking cookies or just adding and subtracting for fun)…and science (“Mom, I heard you talking about a blood clot the other day, what’s that?”)…and reading/writing (“your friend Kai sent you a card in the mail, would you like to write him back?” or “let’s write down your favorite parts of the chapter we just read in Harry Potter today and make a story about it for Dad to read when he comes home!”). What we do really works for us now—but it’s taken us a while to find our path. We’ve explored Waldorf, Unschooling, and various curriculums. And if I’m being perfectly honest, I know that we will continue to change our path as time goes on; every child is different and learns in his/her own unique way, so it stands to reason that what works for Violet may not work for Gus. It’s an ever-expanding journey—but it’s been so much fun so far.
The other aspect of our life at home that is extremely important to me is books. We read constantly. Books like, The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease and the podcast “The Read-Aloud Revival” have helped me considerably to guide my children through the library week-by-week and to introduce them (and myself) to amazing literature. Violet is learning about Shakespeare (her request) thanks to a book we acquired called How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. We are currently reading “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and it’s really remarkable to me that she doesn’t understand the majority of the words and phrases, but she can tell me exactly what’s happening in the play. She says that she loves the words and that it sounds like I’m reading music to her. I think we grossly underestimate our children’s abilities to comprehend and enjoy things that intimidate us as adults and I’m constantly striving to get past those assumptions and try things that I would never think my kids would understand. Like I said, I’m getting as much out of this homeschooling thing as my kids are!
Our parenting journey outside of home schooling has taken us off the beaten path just as much as our alternative education path has. We started with Attachment Parenting, a phrase coined by The Sears family. It consisted of baby-wearing and extended breast feeding (I kind of hate that term though—it’s “extended” as far as our culture appreciates a nursing relationship, but in most other places in the world, a long nursing relationship between mother and child is seen as totally normal and healthy). We sleep with our kids and that’s a huge part of our life that we wouldn’t trade for anything. And we allow our children to make as many choices as possible for themselves in their day-to-day lives. They choose their own clothing and as long as it is “safe” (i.e. weather appropriate and not going to rub blisters etc), it’s a-go. This meant that my son wore dresses every day from the ages of two to three-and-a-half and was “Elsa” right along with his sister last Halloween. Were we judged for this? Sure! But we’re cool with that :).
Our love for attachment parenting and the bond it promoted with our kids led us straight into learning how to parent more peacefully than the way that either of us were raised. We started reading Alfie Kohn and Dr. Laura Markham. And, ultimately, we had to begin to work on ourselves in order to be the parents that we wanted to be for our kids. That’s some hard work…but once we got past the idea that they ever needed to be punished, we started working HARD on connection, connection, connection and that mindset has reaped some of the most amazing rewards. We are so far from perfect it’s laughable, but our kids are benefiting hugely from the information we’ve gleaned and taken to heart from these authors. It’s constant work, but they’re worth it.
Intrigued by Kelli’s great post today? The links below can provide more information and insight into her journey as a homeschool mama!
Project Based Homeschooling http://project-based-homeschooling.com
Favorite Blogger for all things Natural Parenting http://codenamemama.com
Favorite Breast Feeding Resource http://kellymom.com
About Attachment Parenting MORE ON ATTACHMENT PARENTING >>
Alfie Kohn’s Books AMAZON.COM >>
My absolute favorite author and blog of all-time: Dr. Laura Markham of Aha Parenting http://www.ahaparenting.com
Dr. Laura’s books (i.e. the books that changed my life): AHAPARENTING.COM >>
Favorite homeschooling blog http://simplehomeschool.net/how-to-homeschool/
Read Aloud Revival Podcast http://amongstlovelythings.com/read-aloud-revival-the-podcast/