Why do we Homeschool?

The dream classroom. Enjoying the beauty of outside and fresh air.

The dream classroom. Enjoying the beauty of outside and fresh air.

What I love and wanted in homeschool. My kids engaged and focus on creative activity. No time limits and bells ringing.

What I love and wanted in homeschool. My kids engaged and focused on creative activity. No time limits and bells ringing.

Why do we homeschool?

We all want the best for our children.

We want them to have the opportunity they need to succeed. We want them to have what we feel we missed or wish we had. We want them to experience and value what’s important to our family.

For some it’s the freedom to pursue what they love or to get the help they need. For others it is freedom to follow a religious choice. And for some it’s a chance to be free from a possibly unsafe environment.

Most of us would say that we do it out of love. Love for our children.

But have we ever stopped to consider that we may also homeschool out of fear?

Yes, fear.

Fear that our children will not get the help they need at school to become successful in our everyday world. Fear that they will attend an uncaring school, one that doesn’t reflect the values and needs that our children require. Fear that they will not fit in to the social groups and norms of school. The peer pressure and “bad” influences. Fear that they will experience pain and suffering because of it. Fear that they will lose the religious values and morals that are essential to some.

Are we aware that we’re fearful? How does this reflect in our homeschool life?

Have you had what you feel are great homeschool days, and then other days that you think are a complete write off? The other day was a day like that in our house. Emotions ran high, I was frustrated and upset, the kids were upset, my husband was upset. We argued with the kids, we lost energy, we lost perspective.

Our momentum was interrupted because of this upset.

This is just one example. Have you ever had days like this? Where does this start? How does it happen?

Have you ever felt upset that your child is not doing what you ask? Have you ever felt tired and under- appreciated?

Have you ever gotten upset or angry because the kids are not “working” or doing what you have asked of them? They are not following what you had “envisioned” for homeschool?  You tell yourself (and maybe them) that you are concerned that they will fall behind their peers in school. That they are not at the same level as some of your friend’s children?

But what is the real fear here?

The fear is that you are not a good parent because you have failed. Failed at homeschooling, failed at providing them with what you thought you could do better. Failed at helping them be the best they could be. They would be failures and therefore you would be a failure.

That is just one example of a fear. A fear that, as a parent and adult, I admit having. What kind of fears do you hold onto?

We keep these fears in our lives, bring them into our homeschooling environment, into our children’s lives and into their mindset. With these fears, are we giving them the tools for success?

How would homeschool life be different if we lived each moment out of love instead of fear? How different would our relationships be with our children? Our partner? How different would homeschool be?

Would life be different if we let go of our fear of failure, our fear of being judged, our fear of what our children look like to others? If we worked on and let go of our fear of what we look like — to our community, family, church, friends – would our homeschool experience change?

Would you still even homeschool?

My friend and I joke that homeschooling is a personal mirror of our bad parenting and life skills. We laugh about the truth of it. Every day we are tested. Our parenting skills, our moods, our patience. It’s all magnified.

How are we choosing to live each day? How are we choosing to homeschool?

Are we doing this out of love or fear? Are we living each moment out of love or fear?

This was post encouraged by a video a friend had shared on Facebook.

I encourage you to watch it. Find it on this link.

Jim Carrey’s Commencement Speech at Maharishi University

 

 

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Evaluating

So much has been happening since our last post before Christmas.

With January come and gone, so has our half year review with the school that we are registered with as homeschoolers.

The school review always has me at odds to start with.

This year we are registered with a wonderful, independent school in Edmonton. Progressive Academy. They are very helpful, informative, and supportive to our open style of homeschooling. Our province of Alberta thankfully provides a great amount of freedom, options and support for homeschoolers. I say this based on our life in Jamaica, South Korea and the experiences told to me from homeschool friends from various countries.

When it comes to this time of year so many emotions run through me. First, as with so many things, I leave it until the last minute. So there is always the stress of time crunch.

Then comes the next question. Are my kids learning enough? As much as I understand that we do a lot, and the kids are continuously learning, there is still doubt that can creep into my mind.  I have been conditioned by so many years of traditional schooling and what is acceptable by the mainstream that going away from the traditional approach is not easy. (But it is fun)

February Snow Fort in -30 Celcius

February Snow Fort in -30 Celcius

Then we get down to work. I try and go through it with my son (my daughter cannot be registered until she turns 6) but it can be a huge time intensive process, and with the volume of information he has a hard time sitting through the whole process.

Volume of information.

I say this because when I do get down to it, my worry about “do we do enough” changes to “Oh my god, there is SO much that we have done!”

But the big thing that happens each time I do their portfolios is that I question why am I doing this? Does this really matter?

Part of the reason why we homeschool is to have the freedom to choose. Choose what we like and feel is best for us. Without having to measure up to imposed standards.

So inadvertently, the process brings me to a new space that allows me to re-look at why we homeschool and how we are homeschooling. Re-evaluate the reasons and meaning it has for our family.

Freedom, space and love.

Spending time with my family. Really getting to know my children.

Freedom to travel and learn more about the world.

Signs of Spring at our Seoul Apartment

Signs of Spring at our Seoul Apartment

Signs of Spring at our Seoul Apartment (and some breakfast too?)

Signs of Spring at our Seoul Apartment (and some breakfast too?)

Giving our children the space and freedom to truly have fun and enjoy the learning process.

In the end, my children are happy, they enjoy learning, and have freedom to do so.

They are travellers and have already experienced many places in the world far different from their home country and culture.

They are voracious readers, are curious, ask endless questions and love learning.

They are not stuck in an endless circle of school social status, narrow measurements, or limitations on creativity and exploration.

That’s what matters to us, and that’s what we are doing.

Yes, the process has been beneficial in every way.

Drawing and Creating

Drawing and Creating

Gymnastics Pose in the Snow

Gymnastics Pose in the Snow

Reading By The Fire After Playing In Their Snow Fort

Reading By The Fire After Playing In Their Snow Fort

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom

One of the joys of homeschooling is the freedom that it allows. The kids are free to learn, free to play, free to engage in whatever route their curiosity takes them.

Yesterday felt particularly free.

Zahra woke up first and wanted me to read an Asterix and Obelix comic book to her.  Asterix and Obelix in Belguim was the chosen comic book of the day. ( Great old comics by the way. For us they always lead into discussion and research on history, politics and geography, plus explanations of satire, characters, vocabulary and language )

Ronan chose a book, The Class Trip From The Black Lagoon and read the entire book before breakfast. After breakfast the kids played. They let their imaginations take them away and create worlds and characters that they dressed in, renamed and acted out.

Freedom to read, freedom to play and freedom to learn.

After their play session Zahra decided that she wanted to do some math at the school table. We sat down and worked on that together. We talked about even and odd numbers. In her math journal Zahra listed even numbers by writing 2,4,6, 8, ..20..40.. She used the numbers on a ruler as a number line to help with her counting out by 2’s. We took out pencil crayons and she put them into even groups of 2. Using this method she decided if a number was odd, or a number was even. (Her idea after going through the definition of an even number) We looked at a hundred chart and chose random numbers to test to see if they were even or odd.

After that she pulled out her UmiZoomi Math box ( a gift from my mom that she loves as she is a huge fan of that program) and went through completing every book, activity and exercise. Then she pulled out another book from our “workbook” pile and started working on that. A book that I had first thought was beyond her current level, but that was where she completely proved me wrong. Adding large double digits, subtracting them, grouping by 10’s to count. She used her large stack of pencil crayons to help keep count and visualize her way through it.

We had a lot of fun working together.

When it comes to Math I am not a textbook, worksheet, testing -sit down and figure out exact equations type of parent/educator/homeschooler – whatever you want to label me. Sure we may have a few workbooks, but they are packed in a box combined with some math games and clipboards. We use a large amount of problem solving, natural application (a huge amount of cooking and games) and manipulatives in our homeschool math. If a project or curiosity takes us into math, wonderful, but I do not have a setup and assigned math time. Does this work for us? YES it does. How do I know? The answer for me is not complicated- my kids tell me that they “love math”.

They love math.

This day I felt that we were accomplishing what we set out to do with homeschooling. Making learning fun, making learning a regular part of life, and helping our kids know that as long as you have that curiosity and joy, learning can come to anyone, anywhere, on any subject or topic you choose. When I was a kid, I did NOT love Math.

As a homeschooling parent, I am re-learning.

Learning that “school” and “learning” can be different for everyone. It does not have to be the traditional approach.

Learning that regurgitating and memorizing the facts doesn’t necessarily mean you know it. It is about reasoning, application and flexibility. Really, isn’t that what the work world is really looking for in people?

Best of all, I am learning there are other ways to learn and approach math, and through that I am re-kindling my own love of Math.

There are some days that all Ronan wants to do is Math problems. Sometimes he will work on large math problems everyday for a week. Ronan never wants to do a Math worksheet or workbook.

That is cool with me.

This day he chose to read. That is also cool with me.

After completing that first book before breakfast he chose Flat Stanley’s- The Intrepid Canadian Expedition and read the entire book while Zahra and I worked together. It was nice to hear constant giggles coming from his reading chair.

Constant giggles from my son and big smiles from daughter. That is what learning is all about.

Having Fun With Math

Having Fun With Math

IMG_2091

Geometry Anyone?

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Math Class?