As the traditional school year comes to a close and our year-round homeschool does not, I begin to question myself and reevaluate whether we are on the right course. Even all of my homeschool friends are counting the days until they are done for the year. As much as I would like to take a vacation from my teaching responsibilities, I feel like learning is a lifelong thing and we should never actually take a break from it. I find it hard to believe that my homeschooling friends truly take a break from learning either I think what they are really doing is taking a break from the schoolWORK. You know, the textbooks and curriculum and grading papers and making assignments. I can't blame anyone for that!
I really struggle with traditional schoolwork aspect of education. Part of me would love to see my children happily sitting at their little desks working away at above grade level curriculum each day. But the reality is that that is not always very fun. It can be so boring for the kids and therefore, they are not learning very much. It is also a lot of work planning and grading all those lessons not mention the pain in making the children get the work done when they would rather be doing other things. I remember how boring I thought much of my schoolwork was. What I don't remember is much of what I “learned” in that process. I feel like I am learning so much more with my kids now.
Part of me is very rebellious toward traditional education methods. I feel like so much of it is busy-work that doesn't engage real learning. I personally love to learn new things. Something will spark my interest and I learn about it. You would not believe all of the things that I dabble in. I am reading non-fiction books all of the time just to learn about stuff. Do I do this because it was assigned to me? Of course not! I do it because I want to. I do it because there is a reason to learn it because it will be a help in my life. As I think about it, this is the gift of education that I want to pass along to my kids. I want them to passionately want to know about and do things and have the skills to be able to learn them.
I am coming to realize that I could be classified as and “unschooler.” According to Wikipedia:
“Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play,household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child.”
Yep, that sounds a lot like me. I definitely am not a radical unschooler because things are not completely child led. When I see a need for my children to learn something in particular, I force my own agenda. The older children do use a math curriculum and we use various curriculums for different subjects during different seasons. I require reading, copywork, dictation, and some memorization. When the kids have an interest or questions about something we look up an answer. Google can be our best friend. If more interest is sparked, we utilize our local library to research more. Sometimes we get all school-ish with a subject doing more paperwork, but more often we just talk about it so I know that they understand it.
One thing I find is a big requirement for this type of education is a lot of one-on-one quiet time with God. Before each of my children were born, He knew their complete life-path. He knows exactly what they need to be equipped for the work He has for them. So, that's what I am doing praying and thinking and listening.