I received these homeschooling questions from a lovely blog reader named Tracy:
I do have some questions re homeschooling. I have 5 children also aged from almost 11 down to almost 1. We are homeschooling and honestly, I have no clue what I am doing. Do you use one specific curriculum or do you pick and choose? How do you know where to look? I love so parts of so many different curriculums (Leadership Education, Charlotte Mason, Waldorf to name just a few) that I get lost and don’t know where to start. Do you have any suggestions?
I was going to direct her to the archives where I had written about our decision to homeschool and the first day of our journey but realized the posts weren’t there because of a technological mishap. The recovery date of my beloved posts is still up in the air. I really want to share our story of how we got here and why we love it.
Here is the disclaimer: It is our story. Every family has a story and a way of life that works for them whether your children are in school or at home. Homeschooling works for our family. The way I homeschool and the curriculum I choose also works for our family (and sometimes it doesn’t and I am often the last to realize it). I am also very grateful that we are able to survive on one income so that I am able to stay home with the kids. This will be like a QnA period where I will answer questions that I get most from family, friends, grocery cashiers, and old ladies on the street.
Here is the first question for today:
Why did you choose to homeschool?
Without going into too much detail, my life started to unfold towards homeschooling just as I started to consider it. With having #4 and moving to a new area of the city, the thought of homeschooling entered my mind. I didn’t know too much about it and googled it a few times. Then one day, I read this book: Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld. And that was it. I couldn’t un-read it. Words from that book came at me at full speed: “peer orientation,” “collecting our children,” and “attachment village.” Within a month, I pulled our oldest daughter out of middle school. Something had always been nagging at me. I saw her interest in learning for the sake of learning slowly wane. She stopped reading books for pleasure. Nothing drastic was happening with her – she had good grades and was a social kid. But something felt just a little off. I wrote more of my slow revelation here. She was the first of the 5 to be homeschooled.
I had never been around homeschooling. I am first-generation Canadian. School is what you do. School is why my grandparents immigrated to Canada – a better life. This was all new to me. #2 and #3 were accepted into an alternative school based on a lottery. I made friends with wonderful parents and we shared similar values. Some of those parents left to homeschool. I started pulling #2 and #3 out of school every Monday for a playdate at the zoo with one of them where we discussed the benefits of homeschooling. She gave me resources and books. Then I joined my first of many homeschooling Yahoo groups. I realized that there was a whole community of homeschoolers right in my backyard. This gave me more confidence that I wouldn’t be alone and that my kids wouldn’t be alone. #2 and #3 ended up going to school only 3 days a week for the rest of that school year – spending one day with this family and one day out in nature as part of a nature club with other homeschooling families. #1 was still home full-time with me. My kids looked forward to those days out of school. At that time my kids were ages 1, 3, 5, 7, 12.
I read these books at the beginning of our journey:
How Children Learn (Classics in Child Development)
by John Holt
How Children Fail (Classics in Child Development) by John Holt
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book Of Homeschooling
by John Holt
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
by John Taylor Gatto
Understanding Waldorf Education: Teaching from the Inside Out by Jack Petrash
And google was my best friend. I found so many wonderful homeschooling blogs and yahoo groups that helped me figure out if this is what we really wanted to do for our family including some of these blogs: Simple Homeschool, Waldorf Essentials (formerly A Little Garden , Flower), and The Parenting Passageway.
We also chose to homeschool because we have 5 children. The logistics of school and the time frames of school and extra-curricular activities really hindered family time. Organic and relaxed family time is very important to our family. We want a close-knit family that spends their days together. They also have 5 different personalities and learning styles. I have a lot of one-on-one time with them each day to go through lessons and help them with their projects. We also wanted flexibility. We like to travel and go on road trips. We like to spend time outdoors when the weather is just too good to pass up. We can also visit family and friends on weeknights for special occasions without having time constraints. We can stay up reading books together. We are not tethered to a tight schedule. The unexpected can just happen and we can drop everything to meet it with joy and wonder.
Our first day of school is a family trip to the market:
Our first week of school always takes us to the beach.
This is #5 enjoying his lunch 3 years ago:
This is #4 welcoming the new school year:
This is a great post from Kara at Quill and Camera that describes my initial motivation to homeschool. I also want my children to have the time to figure out who they are and what they love. I want them to have time to play and play freely with kids of all ages where there are siblings taking care of each other. I want them to be comfortable in their own skin.
For more information on the legalities of homeschooling in the province of Ontario, go here.
Tomorrow I will answer the question: How did you choose a curriculum?
I’d love to hear stories of how any of you have chosen to homeschool or if you have any other questions, please do so in the comments!