Archive | June 2012

A couple of words about homeschooling

I follow many pages on facebook, I like getting ideas and inspiration from others, and I do like reading others’ points of view. Sometimes I share photos or articles on my personal page.

On occasion I have shared links to articles on homeschooling etc, and have realised, from some comments made, that most people have a belief that homeschooling means being kept at home and made to study books and lessons, in a way that precludes much social contact.

I’m not going to be writing in depth about homeschooling, there are much better sites out there that explain all the various styles and reasons for homeschooling, let me know if you’re interested and I’ll post links etc.

My aim here is to briefly explain what the misconception is, and also what homeschooling is for us.

What people immediately think of is called “school at home”, it is a style of teaching that some adopt, but most homeschoolers I know/know of do not follow that style. As a matter of fact, many are hardly ever at home and most have a huge number of social meetings that they try to fit in a busy learning schedule.

Many homeschool because they want a customised type of education for their child/children. Of course there are many other reasons: lack of good schools nearby, concerns about external influences, clash of personal values with government/social values, child with special learning needs, just to name a couple.

But so many homeschooling parents are worried about their kids merely studying to pass exams, about the kids being more preoccupied with fitting in than standing out, rather than developing a true passion for knowledge and learning. So much schooltime is spent trying to get the kids to conform and comply, rather than teaching. And that’s not any teacher’s fault of course, it’s just the way it is, it’s just what happens when you have a group of 20 kids with different personalities, different needs, different learning styles, different interests, and you’re trying to teach the same thing in the same way to all of them together.

I am one of those. I want the kids to think outside the square, I want them to be knowledgeable, I want them to WANT to learn and know things, because it’s nice knowing things, because you need knowledge of the world to live in it, because you must have knowledge in order to form your own opinion, because I want them to think for themselves and not follow the herd , I want them to ultimately make a choice because it’s the right thing to do, and find pleasure in an action itself, rather than because there’s a reward for it.

Of course this can also happen within a good school system combined with involved parenting/guidance, so please don’t start leaving comments saying that you’re offended because your kids go to school and they’re not herd and they can think for themselves etc. I’m not saying that going to school precludes an objective view of the world and I’m not condemning your choices. I’m just saying that those above are the educational outcomes I want for my kids, and that, in our specific circumstances, it feels easier for us to achieve those outcomes with alternative schooling.

So, going back to the above differentiation between homeschool and school at home, here’s an example of how many homeschoolers do it. Let’s take reading as an example: if the child is eager to read, then the parents will follow her/his lead regarding the learning tools that will be more suited to her/his learning style.

These reading/writing activities might include (but are not limited to) books, computer programs or apps, lots of storytime and storytelling and lots of books in the house, many trips to the library, reading signs when out and about, activity books, lots of paper and pens and pencils and all sorts of writing implements to let the child’s creativity run free, more books…, talking to many people from all walks of life and being exposed to a variety of circumstances and vocabularies, book clubs with friends, etc etc.

Similarly for maths: cuisinaire rods, books and activity books, counters and beads and seashells and counting something you see when you drive places, computer games, getting the kids to pay at the shops, measuring ingredients when baking, boardgames, keeping score when playing footy etc etc.

The main difference in this type of learning is that homeschooled kids get to learn at their own pace, and are not forced to keep up with the class.

So, what is homeschooling for us?? Watch out for my next post… 🙂

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