We “Homeschool” our 10 yr old son. He has never been in any kind of public or private school. I do not use a set curriculum or schedule. Our method, like so many other homeschoolers, is tailored to meet the needs of our own child and is not focused on keeping up with a certain agreed upon level based on age or year. We have the freedom to do this because we not only live in America, where we can still be the arbiters of our family’s education, but we also live in the greatest STATE in the union. TEXAS!!
In Texas, the state has agreed that the parents retain the right to say what is best for our own children to include how best to educate them. We, as a Homeschool, are considered a private school, and the State will ‘keep out’ of our business. I LOVE TEXAS!!!
I take educating our son seriously. I am not lazy nor unconcerned that he learn what he will need to succeed as a grown man, I just do not want him learning all the extra things that come with most curriculum. So how can I educate him if I do not use a curriculum? I do what comes naturally. We say, if you’re awake, you’re learning. We seize the day!
Think about how people learned 150-200 years ago, before the invention of public education. Can you imagine? No classrooms? No subjects? No exams? No teachers? Were people stupid? Were they all illiterate? Were they all bums? Not if they had a someone who would care to teach them what they would need.
From the time babies are toddlers, we parents begin to teach them. Don’t we? They learn how to eat, crawl, walk…wait. They can do that all on their own. They learn to see patterns, how to stack blocks, recognize a cat, dog, bird, just by us speaking to them about things in our world. And, they kind of learn those things by what seems like osmosis. Automatically, we parents ‘recognize’ the milestones that happen naturally, just by being alive, and around others. Children imitate their surroundings, just like the rest of us. And when a child takes an interest in something, we show them how. Right? This is the ‘method’ we have always used. Someone about 60 years ago coined the phrase (to give it a label) UNSCHOOLING.
Unschooling is not necessarily the opposite of ‘schooling’. More like a better way, not an alternative to school. A varying method. All homeschoolers work to find the magical method that ‘works’ within their own personalities and family structure. Much of our choosing of this method goes along with the Parent’s beliefs of what is the acceptable method, to be sure. But I believe it also is a development of methods that decidedly do NOT work and the search for one that does.
I am a musician. I have a 4 yr degree in music and have taught students for many years. What I have always found is that if the child is instructed based on their readiness, and if they can find the enjoyment in the music, the act of actually ‘making music’, they may very well enjoy taking lessons long enough to master the skills necessary to continue playing for a lifetime. In contrast, many methods of teaching lessons are about performance, perfection, and skills and drills. Drilling the life out of the music is NOT something I EVER enjoyed and I have seen so many people quit because their creativity was squashed under the weight of being perfect, that they abandoned the goal; the actual making of music. This is not true in every case, of course, but I’d be willing to say more often than not.
In the same way, education methods can just as easily squash the ability to learn, by using teaching methods that are geared at the masses. By churning out a workforce of clones, who all achieved the coveted diploma, we prepare them for minimum waged jobs and a life time of waiting for the weekend. Those bound for higher education then find that they must learn ‘how to learn’ before they will make it through their freshman year.
So, back to my life. Unschooling makes sense for us. If I can remain available and seize the moments as they arise, those teaching moments, I see learning happen every day, in a million ways.
This morning, as we were visiting with daddy, our son counted out his vitamin gummies and so I began to revisit the idea of math. Using gummies as ‘math manipulatives (as they are called now a days), we worked through basics of addition, subtraction, and multiplication. I retrieved an abacus that I had purchased 4 yrs ago, and showed him on there how things work. There were SO many lightbulbs it looked like the fourth of July! Having Daddy on the Facetime from another state became a private tutor session, and more Lightbulbs!!! Keep in mind, all things about math have already been presented to him, in as many ways as I can come up with. But today, he got it. Why has this taken so long, when early math ‘should have’ been taught/learned several years ago? I don’t know. He couldn’t grasp some concepts until today. He was ready. The spark was there. We are thrilled to see him grasp an abstract area of thinking, that is usually very difficult for a ‘black and white’ thinker like him.
So I wanted to put some of my thoughts about this down, for what it’s worth. And now I am being called away. Back to performing screen plays from Despicable Me. I love my life.