I love homeschooling so much.
My daughter just came running out of the bedroom with a huge smile, waking up when she wanted to wake. There was no rushing. There was no stress. There is no shortage of sleep. It was just hugs and kisses and playtime. And as she runs off happy to go get dressed, I can’t help but think of how grateful I am that I get to see her every day … all day long. We spend so much time together. I know my daughter so well.
She doesn’t go off to school for multiple hours five days a week.
We knew we wanted to homeschool before we even got married because we wanted the flexibility it provided, especially with respect to travel. And, now we have our world school – world travel – plans in place! We leave in T-6 months (maybe sooner!). We also felt very confident we could do a better job with her education by homeschooling her. #sorrynotsorry
So far homeschooling has been amazing. Her advancement in her studies naturally happened, as she is ahead in grades for her 7-years of age. There are various reasons for this common experience with homeschooled kids. Things like customizability of learning, going as fast (or slow) as needed, always being there to answer any and all questions, age range of people for socializing, flexibility of programs, concentrated learning time and not wasting time, less drama, continuous support, knowing what my kid is learning at all times so we can stay on top of it… and more. Much more…
She dances to music while she studies. She takes as many breaks as she wants to run a lap around the house and stretch her legs. She oftentimes has ownership of her day and what she’s doing. I present the things to get done and she chooses when/how to do them.
She’s not sitting in a chair for hours every day.
Homeschooling is not all rainbows, well, actually, it kind of mostly is.
There are times it’s been really easy, and there are times when I dig for my patience. Remembering how this can’t possibly be as easy for her as it is to me keeps my patience in check. I also remember the fantastic flexibility that we have. We don’t have stressful deadlines (ever)… we can take a deep breath (as often as we want)… we can take a break (as many as we want)… she can walk around the kitchen as she does math in her head (I learned that physically moving around while doing math is beneficial for the brain)… we can take a different approach to learning something that might be difficult at the time. Flexibility. Choices. Freedom. It’s an amazing learning environment. I can’t emphasize enough how having flexibility with schooling makes for the easiest and most enjoyable experience for the whole family.
I create my own plans for her education and they change every few months if needed (or sooner or later – it’s up to us).
There was a time when I tried dabbling in all the different subjects in a day. I didn’t resonate with that (lots of planning, fragmented learning, chaos), so I changed to unschooling where we followed our hearts and souls on what we learn every day. I found after a while that I wanted more practice with math and reading. Unschooling was great but it wasn’t suiting us for math. I probably could’ve made it happen but it would’ve taken a lot of planning in my opinion.
I rationalized that if she can read well, then she can learn anything she wants… on her own or with our help. Point is… reading well opens a million doors. Ok, let’s read. A lot.
I felt the same about math. If she has strong math skills that will help in more ways than I can count. Therefore, we focused on reading and math. That’s it. We did this and still do pretty much.
Every day we do plenty of reading (anything she wants) plus math (Fred books, Singapore math, games, apps, worksheets).
Then, for things like geography, science, technology, etc, we enjoy THOSE through unschooling eyes.
It makes the learning so much easier. We play games, watch movies, use apps on the iPad and iPod, play Minecraft, cook, play outside, take various lessons of choosing in the community, Lego time, field trips, and we just talk, talk, and talk. We talk politics, current events, culture, history, math, cooking, passions, psychology… everything. Nothing is off limits.
We talk, talk, talk, and she learns, learns, learns.
We are here anytime she has a question, and she has a lot of questions. If she were in school I know she would not get all of her questions answered. It just is what it is. There are a lot of students in each classroom and the teacher needs to divide his/her attention. Well, that doesn’t work for us. I want my daughter’s questions answered when she has them.
Oh, the rabbit holes we go down when she starts asking questions. She’s learned so much from this.
I remember when…
I tried to get her to start reading when she was three or four and that didn’t work. There were tears and she was frustrated and she didn’t want to do it. I thought to myself, “Reading shouldn’t bring tears.” So, I waited, no rushing, and at age 5… She still was not excited about it, she didn’t love the process. Damn. I wanted her to love reading. I was ready for cafe excursions where we three took books to read over tea and coffee. Clearly, that experience would be on hold. I didn’t want her to not like learning something – I followed my intuition… she just wasn’t ready.
I had patience and waited because I knew how much my husband and I loved to read, and it’s an important part of our lives. I knew that she would jump on that reading train eventually. I’ve heard stories of different countries in the world where they don’t even focus on learning to read until the kids are about seven years old (and they have some of the highest literacy rates). So, I relaxed about it … and what do you know(?)… there came a time later when we worked on sounds and really super easy books like the Bob books and she started taking to it. She wanted to learn to read. She started gaining confidence. We made it enjoyable. As her reading advanced, it was time to find longer, more challenging books for her to read on her own. The awesome kinds of books that would hook her into reading for life. Books that would take her mind on journeys of which she never dreamed.
Now, she’s reading every single day and she’s reading grades above her “level.”
The point is we didn’t force it, and we were flexible with our approach and timeline. Homeschool gave us that.
The time dedicated to homeschool is fascinatingly brief.
Well, that’s true and not true. Yes, these days we only focus a couple of hours a day (some days not as much even) on set studies like math books, science videos, online learning, maybe a little geography if we want, maps, etc. We usually do it first thing in the morning. The rest of the day is play and unschooling like mentioned earlier – learning through movies, Lego toys, dolls, swimming, cooking, the list, goes on and on. Normal life stuff has been her best teacher. In a way, she’s learning all day, but most of it is just living life and paying attention while we do it. Asking and answering questions as we go through our day.
We’re all so relaxed.
Yes, our family could have a lot more money if I worked a regular job and sent her to school all day. Yes, we could have more money if I outsourced her education like that and had someone else taking care of her while I work instead. Yes. Yes. Yes. BUT… That’s not the life we wanted to design. We wanted to homeschool and we made choices to make it happen. I won’t call them sacrifices because I think the opposite is true. I’d much rather have all of this time with my daughter plus the flexibility plus giving her the best education that comes with it than having two fancy cars, lots of jewelry, cupboards full of consumer goods, a bigger house etc. We’re opting for life and experience here, not things.
There are a lot of parents who say, “Oh I could never homeschool.” Well, maybe not. It’s not for everyone. But, I’ll bet it’s for a lot more people than realized. The resources online and in communities are amazing. The opportunities for socialization are ridiculous, I don’t even want to get started on that topic, but I will just in case someone out there really doesn’t know. Most kids in school socialize with same age kids. My kid socializes regularly with people ages 1 to 89. I can take her anywhere and she can talk with anyone. She can take extracurricular activities with other kids, homeschooled or not.
Opportunities to “socialize” abound. Now I know why homeschoolers crack up a little when people ask, “How do you make sure your kid is social?” I’d much rather my child learn how to get along with all age ranges than just her age. The conventional school model isn’t real life. No, real life is socializing with people of all ages.
I read recently that some very popular and prestigious colleges have special admissions just for homeschoolers. Why? Cuz they know these kids are self-directed learners. They’re wise little whipper-snappers. And, they want to snatch ’em up. I can see why.