Begin at the Beginning: Our Road to Home Education

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

I started this blog with no real direction in mind. It was just labeled a lifestyle blog, or maybe a mommy blog. Lately, as we've committed to homeschool and begun to dive in, I've felt like that's the direction my blog should take.

I'm really a terrible blogger as standards go. I rarely blog. I'm trying to be better at that simply because it's a great record keeper. My online motherhood journal.



This post is not about my blog, though. It's about our decision to homeschool. 

All home educating families have different reasons for keeping their kids out of tradition school. I feel like our list of reasons goes on forever. 

I have always loved school. My dream career would be "professional student." I just LOVE learning. There were a handful of high school classes that I loved. There were a lot more that I hated. Science classes, most math, Spanish, and don't even get me started on gym. 

I was labeled a gifted and talented student in elementary school. (I took the test twice. I cannot even begin to explain how devastated I was when I did not make it the first time.) That meant getting pulled out for G.T. once a week. In this class we did oral reports. We could report on ANYTHING we wanted, and include any type of visual aid. This was the only time in my pre-college academic career that I felt free to learn. Everything else was forced on me, and I went with it because I was afraid to not make straight A's lest it go on the elusive "permanent record" and prevent me from going to college.

My husband had a very different experience. School was a STRUGGLE, to the point of being pulled out for resource class. Square peg, round hole, and all that. College was just as tough. That type of lecture learning environment just doesn't work for him. He worked so much harder for his degree than I did for mine. His coworkers would probably not believe me if I told them this. He has been a top performer, sometimes THE top, at every job he's had since I've known him. He has an incredible work ethic, and he does things right the first time every time. 

I first started thinking about homeschool when we were still dating and I found out the details of his school experience. I remember thinking that I should prepare myself now because I would NOT make my child suffer through traditional school if he/she needed an alternative learning environment. Later, before we were parents, I read a book called Nurture Shock that challenged the conventional standards of child care and education. I've never been much for convention, so this book really had me thinking.

When I was pregnant with Everett, I started to really look into non-conventional parenting and education. I joined a jillion Facebook groups on Montessori, Waldorf, unschooling, elimination communication, attachment parenting, and so on and so forth. Some things stuck with me, some didn't. I didn't dig deep, but I did apply some things to our home life with an infant. We didn't allow Everett to do screen time until he was one (and I majorly wish we had continued to say no!) We provided open-ended toys and I kept toys with flashing lights out of our home.
Through my play group I met a friend who is VERY into Montessori, and another who was homeschooled and plans to homeschool. We had a lot of conversations about homeschooling, and it became a topic that was always on my mind. Last spring we attempted to start a "tot school" within our play group. The reality of planning and hosting the tot school was different than we thought it would be, and after one season we dissolved it. I continued to "tot school" on my own, and that started looking more and more like Montessori.
About six months ago we started talking about private school. Montessori primary begins at age 2.5-3, so the time for interviews and applications are upon us. I felt VERY conflicted about this for several months. Unrelated, Everett had moved up from his "mommy and me" gymnastics class to the 2 yr old class and was no longer having a good time. The novelty had worn off, and he really just wanted to free play. Totally age appropriate. We pulled him out right away. "Follow the child." (Now we spend more time at the park, go to open gym, and visit the trampoline place.) That experience clarified things for me, somehow. I suddenly wasn't conflicted anymore and felt very confident in our choice to homeschool. I want him to have that freedom his whole life, when possible.
Not long after that, I stumbled onto the Charlotte Mason method. It's rich with nature and literature, and I love so much about it. It was the spark I needed to get into planning mode. 
Everett is only two, so we aren't quite at the "preschool" stage yet. He is old enough that I want to implement some structure into his day, though. I really like the idea of "Morning Time" a la Cindy Rollins. (We are secular, however, so our version will be different.) We are a cosleeping family, so Everett's "bedroom" is our play/homeschool room. We also have an area in our living space that's almost as big, so I really hate to even call it that. We refer to it as "the blue room." We do time together at the table and time together in the blue room, and he does a LOT of solo time in the blue room, the living room, his little art table, and outside. There's also a lot of practical life happening around the house.
And that's where we are, at the beginning of our journey. We're exploring curriculum options. I'm making lists and notes from various methods, determining what I like and what I want to keep for our own. I'm pulling from Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Waldorf, Forest Schooling, and Reggio Emilia.

Are you considering home schooling your children?

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