This year, we started homeschooling. Or rather, going through an independent study school via our public school district. I had been wanting to homeschool for some time, but what really solidified it for me was volunteering in Carmela’s classroom and seeing firsthand the overcrowded, chaotic classrooms with kids forced to stay inside and sit still. At the same time, I was noticing Vincents learning style which is hands on, through movement and questions and exploration and I foresaw a disconnect there. I couldn’t bear for him to go through this dysfunctional school system that only praises one type of learner and possibly lose his love for learning and curiosity. I had been heavily inspired by the John Holt books, Emilio-Reggio approach, and seeing others online raise their children with homeschool, unschooled, and inquiry based learning. Also, the idea of fostering my children’s interests and empowering them with more freedom felt more in alignment with who I wanted to grow into as a parent, especially as we got deeper into gentle parenting.
At the same time, the thought of taking it all on on my own was overwhelming for me. Since Joel works full time and more, I would be pretty much the sole undertaker of the education. So we dug a little and I remembered a friend in high school who had taken independent study her last few years of high school and absolutely loved it. Here, we have an independent study school that is part of our school district and serves K-12. This meant that I would be the main teacher, but that I always had a teacher there to reach out to, for help and guidance. Plus, that the kids would still get to enjoy the socialization aspect of school. They each have a workshop once a week with other kids in their group, plus a robotics club, and an open form homeschool group once a week. We also meet up with other homeschool families for playdates, head to museums and science centers, and Carmela has French class every weekday morning. Piano lesson once a week with practice daily at her great grandmas house. So I’d say our lives have been pretty rich, more so than when we were just doing public school. Homeschool doesn’t just mean that you’re at home. We’re actually out and about quite a bit.
Some questions I didn’t get to record for the video:
What have my partners thoughts been? Joel actually really did not like the idea at first. But he agreed with me after he saw Vincent learn so much last year after I started to adopt a child led learning approach where you wait for the child to inquire about something, then help them to explore that topic further. Vincent always has so many questions about things and it was beautiful to empower him to find out the answers to his question. You could literally see the creativity spark in him. That, coupled, with the burnout and stress we were already starting to see in Carmela from traditional school (in 3rd grade!), he agreed to try it out this year and see how it went.
Do our kids still participate in sports activities? No, because they never did before either. My kids simply are not interested in sports, and neither are we. Nothing against sports or people who love them. If my kids asked to be in organized sports, we could still do that. But they don’t and that’s fine with me!
How do you make no waste with schoolwork? Well, we don’t make no waste and I have never claimed to make no waste. I believe in using things you need, if you need them, they’re not wasted. I think art and physically writing are a big way children make sense of their world and I don’t want to limit them in this way. We definitely have plenty of paper recycling from school pages, but no more than the amount generated at public school. Click HERE to read a post about low waste kids art and supplies that talks more about this.
How do you find a non religious based group? I’d look into your local independent study program, or connecting with other homeschool families in your area to create your own group if possible.
How do you graduate? The same as you graduate from traditional high school! Since the independent study program is through the school district, it has the same requirements for graduation. Other forms of homeschooling will have different requirements to meet, but all can graduate and receive a diploma.
What are some pros and cons?
- having your child around more often, thus having more time and shared experiences to foster a strong, deep bond
- flexibility in schedule allows for traveling, accommodating timing out of the 8:30-3:30 model, being outside more
- you are seeing your child learn firsthand and can be an advocate for discovering and fostering exactly what they need to learn best
- since kids are able to hone in on exactly what they like best and are gifted at, you can nurture and grow their specific gifts, giving them self confidence, purpose, and clearer ideas of what they want to do in life at a younger age which gives them time to hone their skills and explore.
- less time for yourself for self care and personal development, work, cleaning, etc- you have to be more structured about really scheduling this time in to maintain.
- can get chaotic teaching kids of different grades
- if you homeschool exclusively on your own, there’s no one to fall back on- you’re solely responsible which can feel like a huge weight
- if you don’t like to be around kids all day, this is not for you. No judgment here but you really have to enjoy spending time with your kids for this to be a positive experience for you.
How Children Learn this amazing book by John Holt really inspired me, hand in hand with gentle parenting, to flip my perspective on learning and parenting. He was an
“unschooling” pioneer, an advocate for self directed education and learning in the flow of life. He has many other great books too, including How Children Fail and Teach Your Own: A Hopeful Path For Education. Heres a link to a website with tons more information about him and his approach.
Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons this book is the one recommended by our homeschool teacher to help Vincent get started with reading. Each lesson is about 15 minutes so its manageable for young children and wiggly worms like Vincent. It’s amazing how easy it is for kids to pick up.
Get Ready For The Code this series of books is for writing, learning, recognizing and sounding out letters. We get sent home with copies of the pages for Vincent to work through from school and it has been a great resource.
An Everyday Story blog– this blog is defunct now but theres so much amazing content up still, focused on child led learning from a mom of two in Australia I think. I used her blog as a resource last year to experiment at home with Vincent and it really sparked me to explore this further.
@islandschool Jenna is a huge expander for me as a mom, homeschooling parent, and a person in general. I love her Instagram where she shares a ton about their approach for her two kids, plus the curriculum they use.
Oh Dear Drea Drea is another vegan mom/family who homeschools in Florida. They travel a lot which is so inspiring! Here’s a link to her posts on homeschooling her daughter Marlowe.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some! If you homeschool or are inspired by someone who does, please share anything else you think would be useful for others- links, accounts or blogs to follow, books, information etc in the comments. Let’s all learn from each other.