Sunday, March 19, 2017

Our Homeschooling Journey

Wolf Mountain overlook, October 2015.
Before we started homeschooling, it was hardly in our thoughts. There was work, money, and time -- how could we ever swing it, if even for a year? It's fascinating how time and decisions change what's possible. I had resigned from my job; needing to change the balance of "things" and having trouble doing it while there. Self-inflicted leadership woes, let's call it.

After that I got my yoga teacher certification, spent the year substitute teaching, and wondering what next? I went for my Masters in Education and started a technology-focused Learning Designs & Leadership Program, which looked like it would take me a little under two years to finish.


Wolf Mountain overlook, October 2015.
So I was in transition, and finding intellectual stimulation in the world of Education. I was soaking in the Ken Robinson's and John Dewey's of the world, having reignited my passion for learning as well as my respect of learning as a path towards empowerment and overcoming misperceptions we as selves, families, peers, communities, and nations impose & set. I became increasingly interested in reading and the notions public education carries; and how these beliefs differ from brain research, from other nations' practices, and from those outside the bounds of formal education, namely homeschoolers. I was also interested in non-traditional ways of learning and knowing -- and realized we had a wonderful opportunity to spend the year together homeschooling. By September, we had started our journey...

Maple Sugaring, March 2016.
Like many first-timers, I quickly realized over planning was a curse, and that our family's way of being within this new environment would take its own shape, and not in the way I envisioned. There followed the process of letting go, holding on, moving backwards-forwards-sideways, and all kinds of fun stuff. The questions from others started early -- what curriculum are you following? How do you know they aren't falling behind? How much time are you spending? So, the deal is we never followed any one curricula, although we used many for direction. We realized that, for Greta, the year was going to be centered around reading, drama, and confidence-building. Greta had a desire to learn, despite traditional academics being a more difficult road for her. I found she needed frequent breaks, moved a lot, couldn't learn once frustration set in, and that she loved stories of ALL kinds. For Cooper, the year was about asking questions, and about moving past traditional academics. He was ahead content-wise, so we had the freedom to back off of content, and do more with writing, organizing thoughts, and understanding nuances/emotion in words, film, sports and real life.


Indianhead Skiing, February 2016
Destin Florida, May 2016.















We journaled a couple times each week, and did a lot of read alouds, picture books, and read-to-self's. We watched movies, baked, made videos, went on trips and hikes, played math games outdoors, thinking games indoors, started up a maple sugaring "operation", went skiing and took a lot of walks. We had rough days, although the details of those are murky now. I was plenty nervous that when they went back to public school the next year, the teachers would criticize me when it became apparent we didn't follow set curricula and the kids didn't know certain "grade-level" things. I wanted to make excuses and defend my performance based on their shortcomings. Yuck, those thoughts didn't feel good but they were there. Then Cal would remind me of some of the reasons why we homeschooled -- one being that we didn't have to follow a formal curricula, and that the individualization we were able to bring was well worth any missed grade-level content.

The kids transitioned wonderfully back to school. They miss homeschooling. I really miss it; and despite the popular wisdom dismissing the notion of regrets... I still say I regret not having at least one more year as a homeschooling family. It was a special year, one we'll never forget:)

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