We will be homeschooling.
It’s something I’ve hesitated to blog about, because people have a habit of mistaking passion for my truth as judgment of theirs. But that’s not it. There isn’t one right choice, just as there isn’t one type of person or a single kind of joy – they’re all valid and any choice made in the best interest of the child and family unit is the right choice for them. I smile just as much hearing about a friend’s child enjoying school as I do about mine enjoying freedom. So having said that, I’ll say a little more.
Sometimes I call myself an attachment parent, but that’s not entirely true. I instinctively parent. I do what feels right for my kids. That includes breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing, not leaving them cry, feeding them healthy food… and how we educate.
A couple of years ago now I was looking into schools for Bodhi. I had been homeschooled from age nine onwards and had gotten so much from that. In that time I had I found so much of me, I found a hunger for knowledge, self-motivation, creativity and exploration of the world around me. But it would be too hard to homeschool my kids, I decided, and I found myself sliding uncomfortably into the norm.
I planned to send my son to school. The thing was that the more I looked at these schools – these good schools – I couldn’t get past the fact that this was thirty hours of my child’s week (not including homework). The best thirty hours. The thirty hours where the sun was out and his mind was fresh and that these thirty hours a week for thirteen years would be spent in an institution. And it struck me that it didn’t matter how good this institution was, or how dedicated his teachers would be – that was a huge part of his life that he would be away from the life he was being raised to be part of. And for that huge part of his life the child I was so passionate about raising would not be raised by me at all.
It wouldn’t really be the teachers either, because they are amazing, but in the ratios of children to teachers he would be raised just as much, if not more, by peer pressure.
A feeling of unease sat in my belly.
I began to read. I read random books on homeschooling, I read Holt and Gatto. A lightbulb went off. I decided that I could homeschool my kids. It would be hard at times, and it would challenge me, but that would be ok, because I could do hard things, I could be challenged.
Bodhi often tells people that we’re homeschooling before I do. He radiates confidence and he owns it – as much of it as he understands. And the responses we get are interesting. We get admiration. We get sharp intakes of breath and brows drawn together as people mutter “why???”. And we get “there’s still time to change your mind.” Or “but if he wants to go to school you’ll send him right?” We get those two a lot.
I don’t have any intention of changing my mind. That sounds defiantly naive from someone whose child is yet to start ‘prep’, but I know this one, not just because I’ve been homeschooled, but because it makes sense for us. It feels right. It feels exciting. I have no doubt that we’ll make mistakes, and that we’ll learn from them as much as we do the successes. For all the highs and lows that will undoubtedly come my children will have the world as their classroom, they will be taught by someone who loves them more than anyone, and their needs, challenges and strengths will drive this thing before us.
What about if he wants to go to school? See here’s the thing; he wants to eat chips for every meal, except when there’s chocolate. He wants to have custard for desert every night and icecream every day and never, ever brush his teeth. As his parent it’s my job to guide him for what’s best for him, until he has gained the wisdom to make those choices for himself. So if he wanted to go to school would I send him? No, not now. I’d see why, and I’d make changes and fill gaps that might not be being filled. I’d put his happiness first, without question, but I’d encourage him to take this time. If he was older and he decided school was right for him then I would support him all the way.
This thing before us is big, but it’s also awesome. And I don’t plan to do it alone. He will have many teachers in his life, he will pursue hobbies, languages, probably martial arts, sports or dance. He will be surrounded by friends of his choosing, of all ages, and he will also enjoy the peace of solitude that he craves. Sometimes he will be bored, and from that he will find his own motivation. He will have opportunities laid out for him and have to pursue others himself.
We will explore rockpools and textbooks. Some days we will play and wander until the sun goes down and others we will get lost in study.
He will get a great education – and so will we. His family. We’ll learn together. Not just about phonics and science and history and art but about each other. We will learn what makes each other tick, what drives each other mad, and what makes each other hungry for more.
Some links of interest…
Csilla is a homeschooling consultant (see Too Cool 4 School on facebook) and has just written an amazing book about her family’s journey. I was fortunate enough to be asked to write the foreword Love Learn Live
John Taylor Gatto – All his work is brilliant, but this speech connected so much for us The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher
SunnyHomeschool on facebook is a wonderful resource and run by a very special homeschooling Mum, Heather.
Sir Ken Robinson – Changing Education Paradigms
A thought provoking video Why I hate school but love education
Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012