Welcome to my homeschool page! If you would like to see my posts on homeschooling my two crazy boys on a farm in Canada, click here.
To give a bit of perspective on our journey to homeschooling here is a bit of our story. In 1996 I graduated from University with an honours degree in English Literature and no way to pay the bills. After working in office for 5 years (to pay afore mentioned bills) I was able to return to University and qualify as an English and Drama teacher teachers secondary and post secondary.
I loved my job but I live with an itinerant wanderer and so after not too long we were packing up and making our way to Canada. We did this via a trip to Nepal where I had the chance to teach English in a school there, it was a wonderful experience and really helped to restore my faith in what education could mean to people when they really wanted it.
Moving to Canada was a big change and we also became parents for the first time. When Huwyl was about a year and a half old I returned to work teaching post secondary English in a business faculty. I enjoyed the work but when my second bean came along I really started to see how problematic leaving them would be. Not only were there the practical considerations of cost (daycare pretty much taking up my potential salary as I would only be able to get part time work) there was also an overwhelming feeling in me that I just. couldn’t. do. it.
At that time my eldest boy was in Junior Kindergarten, which at that time was just a morning each day, he was back by lunch time and had a lovely teacher. She was exactly what you would want a teacher to be and thought my son was just fabulous, so it was not due to issues with the school that I decided to stay home. Here is the story that I tell when I try to explain why I made the mad decision to say ‘no thanks’ to mainstream education and go it alone.
Throughout his time at JK, Huwyl got sick a lot, he had coughs and colds all the time. When he would get sick I would just sign him out of school for the week so that he could get some tlc at home. I didn’t have to worry about taking time off work, home was my work, so while his brother was napping we would work on little projects together, things that a homeschooling friend would suggest to me as she has a little guy the same age.
Anyhoo, one day we were working on a project that explored the life cycle of a butterfly, I drew the different stages on our chalk board and was explaining each one, connecting them with an arrow. Once we reached the butterfly stage Huwyl asked, what comes next? I explained that the butterfly lays and egg which begins the life cycle again and drew an arrow connected the last phase. His eyes lit up and I literally saw him get it, I saw him understand! “So it’s a circle of life that never ends!” he cried, filled with happiness at his own revelation.
I knew then that I didn’t want to give that up, I didn’t want someone else to get those moments with him while I was left with end of day and homework. In truth I’d been thinking about homeschooling for a long time and it had always appealed to me and with the decision for me to be at home permanently came the freedom to do it. So at the end of JK, when Huwyl turned 5 we pulled him out of school and never looked back.
Well sort of. It isn’t always an easy road that we’ve chosen, balancing life and school and farm and what feels like a never ending to do list can be a challenge. I don’t subscribe to any one particular educational theory or strategy, I like to merge a combination of everything that I see and read to fit my two unique boys.
There are some core values that I try to stick to, here’s a list of what I’m trying to accomplish.
- Avoid testing, my experience as a teacher tells me that summative testing is pointless and political so we won’t be doing that.
- Experience what is best in the world; literature, art, science, travel, creativity…I’m not interested in busy work, good quality is what we are after.
- If something isn’t working, change tack. When things weren’t going well with a particular resources I’ve tried to let my son know that it isn’t him it’s just not a good match. That isn’t the same as letting him get away with doing nothing! We do the work, we just approach it in a way that is most likely to help him to success.
- Life is a good teacher, experiencing something is usually more powerful than simply talking about it. I want to give my boys the opportunity to have real world experiences that will help enhance their vision of what is possible.
- Core skills are crucial. I know it’s a slog and the creative part of me wants to throw it all out of the window and just let then play, but I’ve seen the way that education can liberate people. By teaching them to read, write and use numbers I know I am giving them the skills that they can use to be creative and decide their own fate down the line. I hope that as we go one they will start to drive their education more independently : )
- Working under their own steam is massively important. That might be playing with lego, building a project or writing a story, but I try to make sure that each day allows for many hours of self driven time to be filled with what interests them right now.
I’m sure I’ll add to this list over time but I think that is long enough for now! If you have any thoughts you’d like to add please do leave a comment, I love hearing new ideas : )