19 August 2010

In a few short weeks the new school year starts up. This year Nick is registered in grade 5, which is totally baffling to me because there's no way he should possibly be that old yet. Isn't he only 6 or 7, not closing in on 10?!

Anyhow, the 2010-2011 year will be our family's third year of homeschooling and I'm really excited to see where it takes us. Since leaving public schooling after two years of some nice times and some hugely frustrating moments, I've been thrilled to see that homeschooling not only met but has gone miles beyond our original expectations.

We started out our homeschooling journey with plans to be relaxed eclectic, meaning we'd have a fairly laid-back approach to formal learning, drawing on various resources and methods as our needs dictated. A few months into the deal, I came to the realization that, at heart, we were unschoolers and I just had to stop being scared of the label.

I've written before a bit about what unschooling is, but a brief explanation would be that we live our belief that learning happens at its deepest level when it is delight-driven and that children are naturally curious and drawn to learn everything they need. I act as a facilitator rather than a teacher, offering resources, helping out, and answering questions.

This approach to learning is for us a natural extension of our parenting style. I remember the year when Nick was in grade 1 feeling a gnawing sense of discord. It wasn't for us. It wasn't authentic. It didn't fit with the view I held of our family. I actually didn't really realize how huge a stress it was until we finished off the school year and we stepped out of the school system. I had my boy back and we could live our lives for us again.

Don't get me wrong, we've had our ups and downs and when you spend as much time together as we do the downs can be quite intense. But the good is so good and our family is living our truth.

Homeschooling has allowed deep relationships to grow between our children as they spend their days together. Nick and Lily have all sorts of pretend games that they play together, Nick dotes on Olivia, and Lily loves to hug and smooch Olivia up any moment she can get.

Homeschooling has allowed us to pursue interests to a depth that only long periods of unstructured time can allow. Nick can whip together at least a dozen origami forms at the drop of a hat. He can spew out facts from the stacks of books he's been devouring. Lily could probably put together a decent meal as long as someone helped her to reach things and she can do a wicked headstand and whistle better than I can. And Olivia...well, she can sign bird, puppy, kitty, milk, more, drink, eat, cheese, coffee, outside, hot, airplane, and sleep.

The most powerful gift that homeschooling has brought into our lives, though, is the opportunity to live in a way that is respectful of our children as individuals. We all have days where we're driven to do many great things and then we all have days where we really need to stay in our pj's til 3 in the afternoon reading books. Energy levels fluctuate, interests work their way in and out, and developmental milestones jump in throughout the year. Having a relaxed schedule allows us to do what's most fitting for most of the family members, whether that means cancelling plans to go out or having impromptu dance parties in the kitchen.

I'm glad I chose to take a leap of faith three years ago. Stepping away from the beaten path was scary but it has brought us to a whole new world of family living and I haven't regretted it for a moment.


Shaun said...

Kim, I've always respected your guys decision to homeschool. Going against the masses is very hard to do sometimes but standing your ground for what you believe in is awesome.

When you guys went home schooling, did schools come knocking and asking why they were not in school? or did nobody care?
What will you guys do for a high school diploma or does that matter?

KimProbable said...

We informed Nick's school that we would be transferring and then we registered with a homeschooling board. In Alberta, the legal requirement is to register with a school board, meet with a facilitator, and have an education plan in place. Our school board is called Wisdom and they're amazingly supportive of the parent's role to choose their child's education.

When it comes to high school, we'll look at a few different things. Nick's plans for where he wants to be as an adult will be the driving factor. We have the option of doing credit classes at home or online, or even switching into public school if that's what works best. Alternatively, many post secondary institutions are now accepting homeschooling students on the basis of portfolios rather than credits and marks so that gives us a lot more options.

Depending on where Nick wants to go and how he wants to get there he could also work towards an apprenticeship program or going straight into working. The more I read about the changes in the work world, the less I'm convinced that postsecondary education is as vital as I grew up thinking it was.

Liam J. said...

The homeschooling resource in our house needs to work on her math.
2010-2011 will be the fourth year of homeschooling.

KimProbable said...

Am I allowed to claim sleep deprivation as a brain impairment? Yes, it is going to be our fourth year.

Shaun said...

That makes sense.

Yeah the whole get a good education to get a good job isn't what it used to be to be honest. Old school way of thinking that just ends up getting people into trouble living a miserable life I think.

KimProbable said...

And from what I'm seeing and reading, employees who are self-driven and creative are a bigger asset to employers than are employees who only go far enough so as to fulfill necessary requirements. My hope is that homeschooling will help Nick to develop and maintain his inner motivations and passions.

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