Saturday, January 7, 2012

In Retrospect...Considering Homeschool

considering homeschool

I was just about to read a blog post by another homeschooling parent, a post called Beginning Homeschooling:  What I Wish I Had  Done Differently. I love the idea of that post. So, I didn't read it. Instead I came here to post my own thoughts on the matter before reading her thoughts. 

We have homeschooled from almost the beginning. My 14 year old daughter had a year of preschool and half a year of kindergarten. She also has had a few sporadic forays into public education for a variety of reasons, all of which lasted very brief periods of time. My 11 year old son has never been in school at all. He has never expressed the slightest interest in going to school.
So we have homeschooled from the start; we had no transitional time from public school to homeschool. Not really.

It's a difficult concept to consider and I'm not even sure how useful the thought is to another family. Homeschooling experiences are so unique and so diverse.
What would I change, having started homeschooling from the first?
  • I'm not sure it is actually possible, but I wish I could have relaxed in that first year. I was a nervous wreck, though I was certain we were on the right road.
  • I would have been less defensive with people in the beginning.  But, again, you live and you learn. Maybe I had to earn the wisdom that comes from years of homeschooling.
  • I would have spent less money. I am a book lover so I probably would still spend money on my library, but, probably, far less on texts and workbooks that were never used. Also, less on stuff I thought I needed to do.
  • I would worry less about written work. The type of work whose sole purpose is to determine if my child comprehended the work or not. I would trust in the learning process without the constant need for testing it. Again, I probably needed to learn that one too.
  •  I like to think I would have felt more confident about my instincts. I often have these feelings that I need to try one thing and to let go of another. I can think of a time or two where it took me a fairly long time to trust that instinct. It has to do with trusting myself, trusting my children, and trusting the learning process. Maybe, again, I had to experience those times in order to learn from them.
Overall, my experience seems to be that I needed to learn how beautiful and natural the process of learning actually is. It took me quite a long time to get out of my "school-y" head and to not apply that same method of study to our homeschool life together. Many times I have gone back on past subjects and tested the kids and they have looked at me like I have lost my mind. They can't possibly know the fear the comes from being a parent! Anyway, it turns out that they always know and they always remember and they have often made connections between seemingly divergent points. They don't keep subject matter compartmentalized as I did:  this is Science, this is Math, this is History, this is Art. Instead, they see the world as a complex and interconnected place. I love seeing that they truly ARE learning daily and making sense of the world as we go.

I am happy that we have often taken lots of time "off" and gone out to play, explore, experience the world. We have done many projects, games, and activities together. We have created our own things to play with and have used them in many ways. We have spent hours on board games, puzzles, putting on shows, dressing up, pretending, and just hanging out and laughing. I think we got that part RIGHT!

That's a good question: what else have we gotten right?

I have changed materials fairly quickly when we didn't care for them. I have responded to the kids' suggestions for areas of study or exploration. I have encouraged the kids to follow their bliss with activities. I have gone out of my way again and again in following their bliss. Perfection is unnecessary. Mistakes are wonderful ways to learn. We appreciate the flexibility. We take vacations on "off" times. We travel as much as possible. I have stayed up late with one child and gotten up early with the other one in order to have excellent and extensive one-on-one time with each child. Times I cherish so much. We have put aside the books and learned from many other sources, people, websites, locations, events, and points of view. We have made friends from as many different strata as possible, with wonderful results! We have not lingered in painful friendships unnecessarily. We have worked on cold and rainy days and taken breathtakingly beautiful days OFF. We have rushed forward in textbooks when the interest and ability were there and we have lagged behind in others when the interest and ability were not there. We have valued quality over quantity. We have made efforts to create learning experiences for our friends and co-homeschoolers by sharing our talents and interests. We have worked on character and ethics and citizenship frequently and continually. And we have studied hard whenever we were able to buckle down and focus.

I think we have done great. And we continue to revisit our methodology and subject matter regularly to make sure we are still on the right track and doing what makes sense in the ways that work. Homeschooling my children is one of the greatest joys of my life.

So, if you are thinking about starting homeschooling soon, or if you are researching, maybe these thoughts will help you.

My main advice:  

What advice would you give to someone considering homeschooling?


  1. OKAY, love the post, and then I got to the Picture! LOL!

    I am totally stealing that!

  2. Great post! It's cool that you wrote your own post before coming back to read mine. It sounds like we have some of the same thoughts. I'm glad I found your blog. I'm finding it interesting and inspiring.


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