Find out what homeschooling is really like! This series of interviews with homeschooling Moms dishes the dirt on homeschooling!
1. Tell me a little about how and who you homeschool. How long have you been homeschooling?
I have two boys, ages 8 and 5. My older son was in a Montessori preschool through kindergarten, and my younger son went to the same preschool for one year. My husband and I loved the style of education - mostly the freedom to explore, and the acceptance of each child for who and where he is. We couldn't imagine going from that style to public (government-run) education. This is our 3rd year homeschooling, and the 2nd with both boys home.
2. How has your homeschooling approach changed since you began? What is working for you now?
When we were preparing to begin our homeschooling journey, I read everything I could get my hands on. I liked the idea of unit studies. I had ideas in my head of what we "had" to do (mostly reading and math), and very quickly realized that what worked best for us was to relax and let our kids be the guides.
In some ways, what we do could be considered a relaxed version of unit studies. When the kids show an interest in something, we just find as many ways as we can to explore that topic - they let us know when they've had enough, or when they want more. My younger son loves workbooks, and asks to do them. He likes routine and structure, and functions better when there is predictablity to his day; whereas my older son prefers to float freely through his days.
My goal for this year is to meet both of their needs, and let them learn in a way that is comfortable for each of them. So far, I think it's going well (for now ... who knows what the next season will bring?).
3. As a homeschooling mom, what is your biggest surprise about homeschooling? Is there an unexpected benefit or drawback in it?
The biggest surprise about homeschooling probably shouldn't have been a surprise to me, but it was. Many people in my circle (friends and family) can not understand the desire to homeschool, nor can they grasp what we do. I used to try to explain that we do, but it is such a foreign concept to them that they don't seem to get it. I was surprised to learn just how deeply ingriained the belief in traditional schooling is, and how difficult it would be for many people to see other possibilities. I've given up trying for understanding. I'm okay with just acceptance.
4. What is homeschooling REALLY like?
Homeschooling is like most other things in life - there are days when everything goes so well, and I feel like we are all in sync.
There are other days when I can't wait to go to bed. Most days are somewhere in between. I think my kids have taught me two major life lessons. When my older son was born, I learned that in order to be sane, happy and at peace, I had to learn to surrender ... meaning, I couldn't try to "steer" our lives. The second lesson came with homeschooling ... FLEXIBILITY!! What works today, may not work tomorrow. I have to be willing and able to go with the flow to make everyone's lives work well together. Some days, it's more challenging than others, but in the end, it's such a huge lesson and a huge gift.
5. What would your absolutely perfect homeschooling day look like.
Ah, my perfect homeschooling day ... well, most of our winter is made up of what I consider perfect days. The boys and I gather in front of the fire and read together. We play a couple of board games or card games, and spend a little time on the couch watching a DVD from Netflix. The boys spend some time on the computer, while I make dinner or get a few chores done. The perfect day really is just about being together and having harmony in the house.
6. Please dish the dirt on homeschooling! What is the problem with it, or what is your biggest challenge in homeschooling. As a homeschooling mom, what do you like least about it?
For me, the biggest challenge with homeschooling has very little to do with homeschooling. It has more to do with me being able to shrug off outside opnions, and being totally comfortable with what we do.
The majority of the families I have met are quite accepting of each other, regardless of the fact that we all homeschool differently. I've only had a negative experience with competitiveness once, but it was something I hope not to experience again. Heck, if I wanted to experience that, I'd put my kids in public school!
7. What is your favourite homeschooling memory so far?
My favorite homeschooling memory is not a specific moment, but rather a series of moments.
I love when I can see my kids connecting the dots - linking information they are learning wtih things they already know. The first time I witnessed this and appreciated it was when we were reading the Harry Potter books. One day in the car, my boys spontaneously started to compare the similarities of Harry Potter and Star Wars. They were 7 adn 4 at the time. I sat there and thought, "This is SO cool!"
Since then, there have been so many instances where they connect all kinds of things - moments in history, literature, music, etc. At such a young age, they understand that everything is connected.
8. What was the moment in time when you absolutely knew you had made the right decision to homeschool?
There was never a moment when I thought we made a wrong decision.
9. What would you go back and change if you could?
I don't know if I would change much. I sometimes wish I had never sent my kids to pre-school (I feel like I missed out on some time with them). However, if I hadn't send them, I wouldn't have learned to think differently about education, and I might not have chosen to homeschool. So, even that was a gift.
10. What kind of support do you get from your spouse/partner? Did you have support from the beginning?
My husband (who has two children from a previous marriage, both of whom went all the way through the public school system) didn't buy into the idea of homeschooling initially.
I presented a list of pros and cons, on which the only pros for sending our kids to public school were that we'd be using our tax dollars and I'd have some time to myself ... neither of which felt like good enough reasons. Ever since then, he has been 100% supportive. He likes how the kids are growing and learning, and loves that they have opportunities to explore so many things. Financially, it has been tough for us, especially the last year; however, my husband's support has never wavered. I consider that to be a huge gift.
Many thanks to Kim for agreeing to be interviewed in my Homeschooling Moms series. If you are a homeschooling Mom (or you used to be!) and think you can contribute, then please ask ask me for an interview. I would love to hear your story.
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