Monday, November 21, 2011

Unschooling, A to H

Thanks to all the lovely comments encouraging me to forget about what people, near and far, think about my (many) opinions, I've decided to tackle a topic that was a long time coming but kept under tight wraps for fear of who really knows what.....

Homeschooling.  Or more precisely, unschooling.

A.  Now that Henry is 3, it seems society expects him to be enrolled in preschool for at least a small portion of the week.  I know this because strangers, acquaintances and former coworkers always seem surprised when he is at the grocery store with me during the week.  Apparently, I am supposed to shop while he is in school.  Or, at least this is what I hear at least once a week.  Seriously.

B.  When I tell these people that Henry doesn't go to preschool, 8 times out of 10, the next question is "oh, do you plan to homeschool?".  I don't really see the connection between keeping him home at 3 when he would be the youngest 3-year-old in the class with his August birthday and homeschooling but nonetheless, the connection is made.

C.  My answer to that question is a smiling and nodding statement about how "you know, he has an August birthday so we aren't planning on sending him to Kindergarten only to turn 5 after school starts".  Smile and nod.  Nod and smile.  It's not that I am ashamed or embarrassed of our homeschool plans but I just don't see the need to defend myself.  Smile and nod.  Nod and smile.

D.  Even though I offer little with my canned 'kindergarten redshirt' speech, it really is the truth.  He would be the youngest in his class, he is a boy, and he is teeny tiny.  But, I leave out the fact that we plan on keeping our babies at home through the early elementary years.  Maybe more.  Who knows.

E.  I have come to terms that it is ridiculous to worry about our children's high school education while they are still toddlers so right now I am focused on early elementary.  And, isn't it convenient that I taught 3rd grade for 5 years.  I feel absolutely prepared to teach my kids.  I won't lie; it's a really good feeling.

F.  In a classroom setting, child-led learning individualized to their unique learning style is the gold standard.  In a classroom setting with 25 needy, um, unique, students it is practically impossible to access each child's best mode of learning and focus on his or her interests.  So, as a teacher, it is pretty awesome to think about focusing my teaching energy on my children that I know better than anyone else in the world.

G.  And, just like when I was in the classroom and pissy about having to follow a "boxed curriculum", I have zero interest in purchasing a homeschool curriculum and having set school hours when the kids are school age.   I envision our life carrying on much like it does now:  playing outside, reading books, running errands, playing with friends, cooking and baking and pushing those damn trains around their tracks.  The world will be our classroom and I will be the facilitator.  It sounds cheesy but it's the bible truth.

H.  So, unschooling with a teacher mama twist it is.  My kids will decide what topics we learn and my teacher brain will make sure literacy and math skills are embedded in those topics of their choosing.  And, yes, playing outside in the dirt is an important topic in our family.

There it is.  Unschooling from A to H.....without a single mention that we live in Mississippi which is #50 in every horrible poll about education and the fact we have no access to Montesorri or Waldorf schools.  That will have to be another post for another day.  Or not.  Maybe that is enough said on that sad sad topic.

Whilst writing this post, I came to realize why so many homebirthing mamas are also homeschooling mamas:

If you want something done right, you do it yourself.


Jen said...

LOVE! we were all unschooled and it was the best thing my mother ever did for us. and she was also an elementary teacher before she had babies. seriously, this is the best decision ever. i don't encourage every one to take this route but i am so excited for you guys. and for the record, we "unschoolers" are pretty damn smart. the best thing about most of us is that we know how to think. not have someone think for us. and that is a priceless gift.

Amanda @ Gratefully Growing in Grace said...

I say good for you! This route isn't for me despite my background in education. I think I feel nervous at the thought of being my children's one and only teacher and the heavy responsibility of that. I think your situation sounds like a good fit for unschooling but I will say that is NOT the case for every family!

Lane said...

I love this post! I was homeschooled for two years and looooved it. My whole family wishes we had started earlier. Right now that's probably the plan for little Miss Ellington as well.

Anonymous said...

Lizbeth and I had already figured you homeschool, so no surprise from us. However, why not homeschool some kids of working mamas and get paid some money.


Jessica said...

Well said! I feel the same and have had the same questions from people when I'm in the store with my 4 and 3 year old who should apparently, be in school.

Anonymous said...

YAY! for you Laura! We homeschool and absolutely love it! It is all I ever imagined that it would be -- I wish I would have gotten to know you better when I lived in Starkville -- I think I would have liked you -- a lot :)

Kari Street Fanguy

Mary Jo said...

There is a lot to be said for career teachers to now be unschooling parents. I firmly believe kids should learn at their own pace, without competition from their peers or the pressure to memorize then purge just to ace a test!

Mara said...

Well said! My daughter is 3 and 1/2 and we get that question too. I just confidently tell people we feel she is in the best hands staying home with me until she is at least 5 (She's a september bday). We are fortunate to have 2 wonderful Waldorf schools, one of which is a choice school that we can afford, in the area. This is likely where they will attend. Good for you Mama;)