Well, over the last 2 months I’ve gone through a number of stages in the decision to homeschool, and as I suspected I finally got to a point where it no longer felt like a decision to make. The concerns I had have slipped away one by one as I have voraciously read and researched the subject. My husband and I had several long discussions, and we both feel that we’ve come to a point in time where there are many different ways to get an education, and we feel like focusing on experiential and interest-based learning at home may well be an excellent fit for our family.
I found that the more I researched, the more comfortable I became with the idea of stepping away from traditional school. At first I thought maybe we’d do an online public school that was very structured and followed all the state requirements. Then I thought maybe we’d purchase an all-in-one curriculum. Then I thought it would make more sense to purchase different curriculum for each subject. At this point, I’m not sure how structured we will end up being. I have purchased/downloaded curriculum (some of which was free!), and we will have some structure to our days, but we want to do a lot of interest-based learning, particularly for science.
This weekend we did a family project where we had the boys work with us to help plan, design & build a pea trellis for our garden. It included a planning session where we discussed our requirements and looked at some ideas, then a trip to the store where we looked at options, did price comparisons, and ultimately purchased our materials. Then we built our trellis and they helped us problem-solve and put it all together. That’s a lot of learning, all while having fun!
We have been talking a lot about what we personally think it’s important for them to know, and we’ll be doing a mix of what we think is important along with what interests them. We think math is important (and they enjoy it), so we’ll be following their grade-level curriculum via workbooks for that. We will be focusing heavily on literature & writing, because I believe those are the to most critical foundations of a good education. We will be studying World History chronologically, beginning with ancient history next year. We will be doing science units based on the boys’ interests. So far we’re planning to study dinosaurs, plants, animals, the human body. I also want to do units on evolution and the scientific method.
We’ll throw in some classical music/composer studies as well as some art history. It important to me in this first year to figure out what really excites them, and then focus on that. I know that I personally have a VERY difficult time studying anything I’m not interested in, so I’m not terribly concerned about trying to force them to learn about non-critical things they just don’t care about. For example, I want them to have a basic understanding of Chemistry, but I don’t think it’s necessary for them to study that thoroughly unless they want to. I got a D- in Chemistry in high school, and I’ve never felt that I wish I knew more about it.
We have entered an era where the whole of human knowledge is at our fingertips. If we build a foundation that includes a love of learning, the ability to independently access information, and the skills of logic and critical thinking to apply toward that information, then one really has all they need to pursue whatever it is they want to do. I personally experienced having school drain all the fun out of learning for me, and I feel like instead of really being able to dig in to the subjects I loved, I barely scratched the surface of many subjects that were of no use to me at all. This is not what I want for my kids.
This is difficult for me to talk about, because I feel like when I explain our reasons for homeschooling I am implying that school is terrible and no decent parent should send their children to school. This is not what I’m saying at all! I think we all recognize that there are many problems with the schools, but I think that overall our community schools have a lot to offer. The fact is, it takes an unique combination of factors for it to even be a reasonable consideration for a lot of people. I get that most families need 2 working parents. And those who don’t, don’t necessarily want to spent all day every day with their kids. Some kids don’t WANT to homeschool, and some parents don’t WANT to be their kids’ teachers. So please don’t ever think that my decision to homeschool my kids is in any way a judgement of your decision not to. Who knows, we may be back at school some day!
I will probably be blogging our homeschool adventures. I’m not sure if I’ll do it here or elsewhere. I’m not really using this blog for anything else, so I may just let that take over this space. We’ll see.