Monday, December 1, 2008

Expansionism

Not US, Russian or any other country (though that is an interesting lesson for the future when the eldest takes up the history bug)...expanding on the Shaping the Future post.

I feel that I should explain why we came to the decision to school the way we do and how we go about it. Not for justification, by any means, as I know that these are my children (I was there, I know...believe me, I know) and they are my responsibility to educate, raise and shape into semi-decent human beings. There in lies the root of the reasoning. They are mine. I should be one of the models that they base themselves upon in the future. Am I saintly? Uh...NO. But in general I am an educated woman with a sense of community, responsibility and a touch of human sensitivity.

I base my decisions on personal experiences (both mine and the spouse's) with the public school system. I was bored to tears (in the most "academic" classes available btw). The spouse was told that he was ignorant and unteachable (big, huge story there that still ticks me off...I believe his parents were negligent for not reeming that teacher's ass). Nephew was medicated because he was "disruptive" (he was bored too), neice had an ENGLISH teacher that I witnessed saying "Ya'll kids get aways from over yonder" (yes, it was in rural KY...but this was an ENGLISH teacher).

Suffice it to say that neither the spouse nor myself were overly excited at the prospect of our typically active 5yr old going into a school and being told basically to sit still for 8hrs (no half day Kindergarten). The boy will sit still every night for upwards of 30mins for reading, 20mins or so for art and sometimes even 45mins for workbooks/computer work. But practically 8hrs...not on your freakin' life! We are lucky to make it halfway through the 5.5hr trip to KY without having to stop and let him run. Is he overactive? No, he's 5. Does he have ADHD/ADD? No, he's 5. It's what 5yr olds do. They run, they play and they learn as they go. Sorry, it's true (if they aren't totally addicted to the boob tube by that age).

We didn't come to our decision to home/unschool lightly. We weighed the options, including Montessori, and found after extensive research that our ideals of being our childrens' teachers were not un-natural or out of touch with the way we want to live anyway. We strive for something independent and natural, teaching our children is as independent and natural as it gets. Plain and simple.

As to the way we school...well, it isn't natural to sit in one place for hours on end cramming information that you have zero interest in into a tired, overstimulated brain. That's why babies will scream bloody murder until their situation/surroundings are changed. So we chose to continue with the independent/natural theme. We let the screamers tell us (in their own funny/weird ways) what they are interested in. It really isn't difficult to pick up on what they want to learn about. You listen, watch and offer. When they get tired of a particular subject (this week is weather/seasons/plants) we abandon it and pick up again when they are interested. It teaches them that the knowledge is there, when they want it, and they can utilize it at their whim. This may not ALWAYS be the case, but I am well versed enough in plenty of subjects to muster my way through until the oldest is at least 10.

This approach is what works for us. Makes hard work sometimes for logging things in for the "school" to review but worth it because it teaches the screamers more than they would get from sitting in an overcrowded (40 students, 1 teacher and 1 aide) classroom with "peers" that have little to no respect for their elders, let alone for one another. The screamers accompany me on shopping trips where they learn manners (from me, not other shoppers by any means) like holding the door, assisting elders and other good things. We work on shapes, lists, colors, math and a variety of subjects on a single grocery trip. In restaurants (what are those? lol) we work on table/public manners and if we happen to be in a cultural inspired one (Mexican, Greek, Italian, etc) it offers a learning opportunity involving those cultures from people that are of those cultures.

These are occasions that aren't truly offered in public schools. More hands on, inspirational learning moments that come from the child's own natural curiosity. Instead of the insipid lukewarm response to that curiosity that would be given in most public schools, my screamers get to experience things firsthand with relish...as I tend to get overly excited when they show true interest in something vs passing interest. We visit National Parks weekly instead of maybe once a year, the zoo is a favorite place as is the science museum and art museum. In public school, these places would be visited rarely. That is not the education I chose for my children. I chose for them to experience life firsthand, learn true consequences, search for realistic and usable answers to questions that they are allowed to form themselves.

In all of this, we try to instill a sense of self. Self-knowledge, self-sufficiency and self-utilization. Use the skills you have to learn/develop new ones. It is just starting to click with the eldest that this is feasibly possible and he adores that freedom that he wouldn't necessarily have elsewhere. It's a selfish teaching form, I think...selfish in the sense that I am there for those discoveries, those moments when all the things click together in that amazing little brain and BAM, a solution is born. I am a selfish mother, a selfish teacher, in that I WANT to be there for those moments. When those big blue eyes light up with wonder at what he's discovered. I love that click moment. It is my favorite.

4 comments:

riverwalker said...

My grandson never ceases to amaze me with his unique understanding and viewpoints...but then he's only three. He soaks up knowledge of new tings and ideas like a sponge if given a chance. Great follow-up post. Thanks.

RW

MiniKat said...

If you ever need a ton of information on earth sciences, let me know. I am happy to help anyone who home schools find resources. :-)

My mother almost home-schooled me, but decided against it at the last minute. I was bored to tears constantly and even told I was "not smart enough" to become a scientist. Nobody bothered to figure out I had a form of dyslexia until a Chemistry professor at my university happened to grade one of my exams himself.

Suffice it to say that my husband and I will be home schooling any children we have.

Btw cooking is a great way to sneak biochemistry into a day's lesson. ;-)

Ozark Momma said...

RW~ They're amazing at this age, aren't they? The youngest will be 3 in Feb and though there are concepts that he hasn't grasped as quickly as his brother did at the same age, there are other places that he outstrips his brother even now. I am forever surprised at the information those little brains suck up.

MK~ I may take you up on that some day! And the dyslexia...that is one thing that the spouse knows all too well about. It was that which caused the "ignorant and unteachable" comment. He still struggles with it, but now can actually sit and read an entire book without too much issue. He was not a reader for a long time, but decided to work on it when he saw how much I love to read and how quickly I'll devour a book!

I drive my tractor in pearls... said...

Kudos to you. We went the private school route, but if ever I am unhappy with our choice, we will homeschool in a heart beat...

God has blessed this choice, so far, and blessed us with amazing teachers perfectly matched to our many different kids.

We almost pulled the youngest out this year, mostly because of me, but he just loved it so much, I just held back for a bit to see what happened and he just blossomed. I think the urge to homeschool him was more my reckoning my last getting older than his needing it.

Keep up your vigilance regarding your childs' education!

JWE

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts. --Edmund Burke