Monday, March 18, 2013

Life Learning: Ditching the School at Home

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This morning our day started at about 9am with a mile long walk, after which I cooked breakfast while the kids cut out play money and played store. After breakfast we began our book work. By lunch we were finished with every thing except math. The second half of the say was spent out doors enjoying the spring-like weather. Today was a typical day of homeschooling for the Molders.

I had the same vision most new homeschoolers have. My children up, dressed and fed by 8am. We start the day at our desks in front of the white board by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. At exactly 8:30 we do Bible, 9:30 is math and so on. Certain lessons take an hour others take 30 minutes. Why? Because my heavily scripted teachers manual says so. Never mind the fact that they were only 4 and 5. Never mind the fact that most of the work was busy work designed to keep children in a classroom setting quiet while the teacher works with those who need the extra help. Never mind that school for 2 children is taking up just as much time as school for a classroom full. And never mind that we ended the day exhausted, tired of being around each other and generally hating school.

Boy was I in for a shock when my idealistic homeschool didn't work out. After a few weeks of trying this I finally sat down and started thinking about why it wasn't working. I hated it. It was boring and repetitive and so much of it felt pointless. If, as an adult, I didn't see the value in it, of course my children weren't going to either!

Not long after I had my epiphany I began to re-structure our schooling. I admit, it was hard. I was just as culturally trained as everyone else to believe that learning could only happen within the context of a seriously structured school environment. I was utterly willing to let school become our life. What I wasn't realizing is that it should have been the other way around. Life should have been our school!

Exploring Moss
Now, I don't mean that we ditched all of our school books and took the unschooling route, but I did stop trying to force busy work, long drawn out scripted lessons, and strict schedules. As I relaxed, so did my children and learning began happening everywhere! In between practicing our addition facts we were outside counting bugs. Instead of spending hours trying to force generic essays to appear on paper we were writing plays and acting them out. We went from hours of tears and frustrations to joyful walks in the park, interesting field trips, and book work that was fit into our lives naturally instead of forcefully. Homeschooling became fun!

There are going to be rough days no matter how you choose to homeschool, but take it from me, when you live like you are learning all the time you will find that both you and your child(ren) will enjoy school far more than if they were sitting at a desk and you were standing at your chalkboard trying to do school at home. Remember, it is HOMEschool not SCHOOLhome.

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Gina said...

Great post, it's so true. Wish more HS's could get this quickly before they burn out.

Manic Mom said...

Love that....Homeschool not schoolhome!! I'm going to put that up where I can see it everyday! :D

Ruth said...

I love this. On days when I remember this, and I let life be our school, those are my most enjoyable days. That's when I enjoy being a mom the most. - Ruth

Anonymous said...

well not all home schooling is equal! I have grandsons that can't read at the age of 12 because their homeschool mother doesn't care if they learn or not. she's more worried about field trips than them learning to do the three R's. sad sad sad .

Jessica said...

To "Anonymous" -
I am curious if you have ever spoken with an honest and loving heart with your child and their spouse about your concerns with your grandchildren's education.
I am not there, nor do I know the family, but most home schooling families do want to see their children learn. Maybe she has not opted to teach them how to read yet. Maybe they have learning disabilities that you are not aware of. If they can't read anything, I would wonder why a 12 year old child has not picked up on simple sounds and blends, just by seeing letters and things being read on television.

My four year old learned to read very simple CVC words just by knowing her letter sounds, which she learned from watching shows on PBS. I had not intended to start teaching her to read before the age of six, but she taught herself so much, we just picked it up and went with it.

Anyway, if your daughter/daughter in law is and son/son in law are truly just being lazy about schooling, I would hope that you have enough common sense to know that it is certainly not the norm for most homeschoolers.

Oh and a side note, when I pulled my daughter out of public school at 2nd grade, she could not read beyond a mid kindergarten level.....

ajnrileysmommy said...

i am enjoying reading your thoughts :) i definitely lived in guilt for a couple years when that rigid schedule was just NOT working out for me!