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When we walked into Gamestop one Thursday afternoon following lunch to purchase the long-overdue controller for Mom, the gentleman at the register (who has asked before), questioned us. “What school is out today?” Mom’s learned reaction at this point is to smile brightly as possible and in the sweetest voice she can muster, reply with “Oh, no. They’re homeschooled!” We are prepared for the follow-up questions because when people hear you homeschool, reactions typically run from snide remarks like “Don’t you have to be certified to teach?” to obnoxious and repetitive questions like “Why?”
Family is better! They like to add their opinions. “Your daughter can’t spell <insert random word>. This is why she should be in public school.”
No, Aunt Potato. We’ve all read your Facebook posts, listened to your conversations during the holidays. We’ve seen your publicly educated kids. You don’t want to go there, but that ridiculous hypocrisy is for another post. This post is about the why, and here is Mom’s explanation:
I have a laundry list of reasons I homeschool, all of which I’ve said out loud from time to time. These are my top 5 external reasons.
- Bullying. I was a victim. I saw my oldest going down that path. We don’t have time for that crap.
- Common Core Math. The old methods worked just fine.
- One-size-fits-all education. Another BS idea. Not every child learns the same way.
- Standardized Tests. These crappy pieces of garbage put pressure on teachers and students, and pressure teachers to pressure students.
- My kids. There are a lot of emotional reasons here. I adore my kids, love being close to them, have a lot of paranoia, and I saw them struggle.
The same rhetoric over and over, I was becoming a broken record of finger pointing and paranoia. I have thrown in my own anxious fears from time to time as well. So, one night while setting my goals, or resolutions for the upcoming few months, it clicked. Why am I not setting forth goals in my homeschooling?
I’m not talking about the typical goals. Nope. I’m talking about what my goals for my children are through the lifetime of their education. What do I hope the end results will be? I sat down one night and wrote everything out, refined it, and finally set my expectations that from 2019 onward, I plan to keep close by and reach for.
- Success and Autonomy. I want my children to find success, their own personally definition of success, in everything they do. I want them to be fully capable and independent human beings.
- Autodidacts. I am an autodidact and so is my husband. We love learning. We are always jumping on new adventures. We want to inspire that love for learning in our children, free of pressure and expectations set on standard bars in subjects that interest them and are not fed to them.
- Freedom and Adventure. One thing we’ve never taken from our children is their freedom. They are free to disagree, have opinions, say no, be picky eaters, have dreams, play and imagine, express themselves, and be who they want to be.
- Values. We aren’t Christian. (I repeat this a lot due to the number of Christian homeschoolers out there). We are, in layman’s, Pagan, but our religion is not our crutch or our focal point. Values are. As human beings, what makes a good person, is what we want our children to learn. To see past superficial and stereotypical assumptions and see people based on the values they uphold.
- Love. We are a tight knit sort of family that value conversations and relationships with each other. If you can’t rely on your own family, who can you rely on? We want our children to find love in our home everyday, every minute possible.
We find a lot of inspiration in homeschooling in general, but what really whacked us over the head was two forms of homeschooling: unschooling and project-based learning (or interest led learning).
Way back in 2013, while enjoying some television with our kids, we found Shark Tank. My kids were pretty intrigued and it has become a show we watch pretty religiously. It inspired a conversation with my children that has been ongoing: What do they want to do when they are older?
Homeschooling has given us an outlet to allow our children to focus their time and energy on what they want from life. We tried traditional public school in homeschool. Math for an hour. Reading and Writing. Science by grade and electives in their free time. It was both boring and pointless. I could easily send them back to public school and let them do this repeated daily blunder there. Thankfully, I had recently found books on unschooling, and later PBL (project-based learning) due to a friend’s suggestions.
Unschooling allows children to grow and learn based on their everyday experiences. PBL is a bit more focused, giving interest led learning based on a single project at a time. Arguably, the two forms of homeschooling go hand in hand, however each homeschool is unique and therefore there is a lot of freedom. That is the keyword for us, freedom.
Freedom to learn. Freedom to live. Freedom to create. By setting goals for ourselves, creating plans of action, and learning based off the interests we choose to pursue, our kids are getting the freedom to explore their interests and learning valuable skills such as planning, goal setting, creativity, productivity, task management and more.
We have a tradition of setting goals. Annual goals and quarterly goals. This year we’ve added a glance into our futures, setting 1, 3, and
- Let go of those voices in our head that still linger on the ideas of traditional education.
- Start and keep our family and personal blogs running.
- Continue pursuing our career focused goals.
- Earn food and pocket change from our urban homesteading adventures.
- Learn ASL as a family.
- Have family reading more often.
- Take more field trips.
- Improve the efficiency of our Jobs.
- Raise a baby!
- Try something new.
Number 10 isn’t really a challenge but we like to have it on our list to remind us. Be it a new type of food, a new way of doing things, or learning a new skill, we want to try something new and do it as a family. I hear woodworking, building, and language learning are all options in debate.
In some ways, it was only fitting this post was our first post ever. With homeschool and home life melding as seamlessly as it does for us, this was a great way to kick off the year. Yes, we know that we are a little late, NICU preemies have that effect on life, but with the worst out of the way, we are kicking off our year happily in February.
Here is to the adventures that lay before us and you!
Ayrelia is an Artist, with a creative mind! Her dream is to become a successful Artist, Author, and Comic Book Artist! She is the eldest out of 5 kids in the DAU family. She likes books, drawing, writing, and playing games.