Sometimes, I think, people who would otherwise feel called to or consider homeschooling decide it's not for them because they don't fit into a certain mold or lifestyle or they have a certain vision of homeschooling that they don't think they can aspire to. If so - if we're all supposed to think, prefer, read, and teach the same things the same way - I've come to realize that I should probably just hand in my homeschool card now. But that's one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling, at least one we talk about even if we feel apprehensive in doing it: you get to do things in a way that works for you and your individual unique family. Anyway, I thought maybe it was time to clear the air and my conscience and share with you once and for all my homeschool confessions.
I'm nervous to admit this so I'm gonna get it out of the way real quick. It's my mortal sin of the homeschool confessional.
I don't read, or even like, book lists.
I know…it's not you, it's me. Really. Everyone else in the world seems to love them so so so much. For me, it's probably the quickest way to make me homeschool-anxious. I think when you're looking for something specific they can be helpful and for specific recommendations, sure they're great. But for me a general you or your child MUST read all these books on this list? I've learned they lead me into unnecessary guilt.
My child hasn't read that book?? Educationally damned forever.
I taught them about ducks without reading seventeen adorable and recommended storybooks featuring ducks? How will they ever ever know about ducks properly? No doubt they now hate or fear ducks and will forever.
See? Now you know how ridiculous I can be. So I stay away from the booklists and make a deliberate act of trust in my intuition and that God will always provide in His own way for this homeschool.
We don't "do" science.
I have come to the liberating and practical realization that it is virtually unnecessary to "do" science in the younger grades. I'm finally giving myself permission to just not do it. Almost everything they learn and remember on this subject they do so because they had a natural curiosity and learned it either on their own, through asking me or others questions, some good sciency books on the shelves, or through plain old cause and effect in everyday work and play. It's not because I planned some elaborate lap book and experiment on the subject. I fill in with definitions as I see things come up and I'm available (i.e. Oh wow! The gravity made that block tower fall down!) but I don't ever plan it. Ever. Giving my kids freedom to play outside and experiment on their own and use tools some would gasp at has been a greater education in science than any classroom lesson I could ever ever come up with.
We never ever go to the library.
I'm kinda ducking.
Reasons: It's one of the most stressful, sweaty activities you can do with four children that has never really ended up being worth the work involved or educational benefit received.
The book choices there are getting poorer and poorer. My oldest is now in the young adult reading age and ohmygoodness, are those shelves eye-opening. Our local library doesn't have Treasure Island but they do have Twilight. We went for the first time in over a year and a half a few weeks ago after I mustered the energy to comply with my oldest's request. He was really hoping to learn more about lasers and wanted to find some books to check out. Great! The library is where we're supposed to go to do that! We scoured the catalog and enlisted the help of a staff member. Nothing. Nothing in the whole library. But had we wanted to learn about vampires or diversity or browse through The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft (really) we would have been all. set.
And now there are internet book sales. For what I would inevitably end up paying in overdue fines, I can purchase a used copy on Amazon or Ebay and have that in our family's library for younger siblings to enjoy without me having to wrangle toddlers in a sweaty, sweary, supposed-to-be-quiet-in-here-so-why-do-they-have-toys-in-the-kid-section hot mess.
I will say, though, that I do love the library book sales. They're usually getting rid of all the books I want to get :)
We don't do all those…things.
We've never made a salt dough map. Or a lap book. Or spent a week learning about one letter. Or charted the weather (We have windows! They're great!). Also, the use of glitter, play-dough, and markers around here are all strictly strictly monitored. Those things are great if you like to do them, don't get me wrong. But we don't. And we're still (maybe?) okay.
I don't have or use lesson plans.
I've tried them but they have always fizzled out. We simply do the next lesson in the subjects to be done that day. If it's on their own, I check it, they fix any errors, and we're done. If a certain lesson is long and the child is convincing enough, sometimes we'll split it into a few days. Everything that I don't have a prescribed curriculum and routine for, I guess you could say we unschool. The idea now of making daily or weekly lists makes me pretty twitchy.
When I say physical education class I mean going outside.
When I say health education I mean I make them brush their teeth and eat their vegetables.
And when I say "HIV awareness and education" (thank you, New York state requirements), I mean I make sure they're not sexually active, aren't shooting up drugs, and are learning how to always treat others with dignity.
You'd be surprised how creatively you can word things on your district quarterly report ;)
Vacations count. Chores count. Play counts. Acts of service count. It ALL COUNTS.
This isn't really a confession, at least not to those who have been doing it awhile but maybe to those who are considering or are totally unfamiliar with learning at home. It's more of a revelation that I've had to make (and remake) over the years. Homeschooling is not doing school at home. At least not for us. We aren't trying to replicate a traditional American classroom but rather educating our children under a vastly different (and much older and more time-tested) model. Some things look the same but some things look very different. It takes a total mind shift in the way many of us are used to looking at education. In many ways it's much easier, in many ways much more difficult. But the one thing that I'm learning is that they're always learning. Always. And it all counts and I don't need to feel guilty 'counting' it.
So now you know. Whew. That feels better. As long as my homeschool friends promise to still talk to me. (Please?)
So now that I've confessed, dare you share, too? Got any homeschool confessions??
(And linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes!)