Home School?

Ama has been sick for two days now. Cuddle and do nothing all day sick. Like having a really heavy newborn sick. Fever toeing the line of an ER visit sick. I know, it’s going around.

Being trapped under my mammoth super baby with one armed access to a laptop has awarded me some time to think about things. Odd, isn’t it? Being unable to wiggle my left arm but having untethered access to the world’s knowledge on my right.

I came across the idea of unschooling after being invited to a parenting group devoted to said cause. I know, it’s far from new… but I guess it’s seeing a major revival… and it was the first I’d heard of it. I have always felt that children are innately passionate about learning and that the mass educational system maybe doesn’t do the best job in fostering that. My sister specializes in early childhood education and the Regio system, which focuses on children’s interests and is driven by the children themselves. They pick the topic themselves and the lesson plans and learning go from there. The classrooms are also decorated minimally with soothing colours and natural decor, which definitely feels like a good fit to my simplistic parenting style. My eyes were opened to the possibilities of the educational system. Opened but there wasn’t much here to see. In Vancouver, we have only a few programs that fill quickly and end when grade school starts. I have also been interested in Indigo schools, but again, I can’t find one here in Vancouver.

I take Ama to StrongStart every now and again. I think it’s a great program and the teachers are lovely. Lovely, but not who I want to be raising my child. I like to treat Ama as my equal, and I think she responds well to it. Of course, I have well outlined boundaries, as I do with any other human being. There are consequences. But I see my job as a ambassador more than police escort. This is not a feasible approach when you’re locked in a room of 30 children. I’d sure break out the handcuffs. Do not get me wrong – I personally do not know any teachers who are anything less than remarkable human beings. And if I could handpick my teachers based on my teacher friends and family, I would be in heaven. The way that I have seen Kendra, Heather or Sonia interact with Ama has inspired my own view for sure. But not everyone is Heather, Kendra or Sonia. I’m sure not. Most are underpaid, under appreciated and out numbered. I wouldn’t hold up in that situation.

I also feel a little bit like children are the last culturally acceptable people to be abusive to. I try not to speak to Ama with any less respect than I speak to my mother. I am afraid of the culturally acceptable way adults might treat her… especially adults that are with her more hours in a day then me. How might that affect her?

Or siting immobile in a chair all day… without the same (be it still not enough) emphasis on real life learning, physical education or art that I had.

I also looked up some impressive stats on home schooled children. The whole socialization thing isn’t a concern for me any who. Ama and I could choose programs together and develop a community of friends her age, older and younger, at a home schooling group. Of course, the stats for unschooled children (children who receive no structured education) also factor in and would likely bring the overall score down since these children tend to rate lower on conventional tests for obvious reasons… so it makes me feel better about even considering it.

But… how feasible is this whole thing? Has lack of sleep started influencing my judgement? What do you think of traditional schooling versus home schooling?
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3 thoughts on “Home School?

  1. My response is of course going to be as judgemental as yours might be if I told you I was going to start a diet of MacDonalds and introduce extreme TV watching to my workout. With that said, I think the best programs are in the school system because most teachers are good teachers and our board has moved towards reggio in the yonung years and it is growing up with our kids- now to grade 1. Beyond that we are differentiating learning, using project approaches and practicing real life problem solving in the older grades. Education is slow so I think it is easy to be somewhat envious of mothers at home who homeschool and follow their children’s interests solely. It is easy to do with 1 and not so easy for 30 so obviously that is the advantage of home schooling but I advocate both. My kids go to school in publicLY funded schools and then come to me who is acutely aware of their interests and can enrich the rest of their day with child- centered learning. It helps that I am not swamped with an overwhelming desire to play on my cell phone, tweet and catch up on my stories. The sad part of home schooling is that many parents who do homeschooling (and I am not saying all), home school with good intentions but never do a great job of it. Not all teachers are great but I think a bad teacher (and everone gets one) gets outweighed by next year’s great teacher. Home schooling scares me because you only get one teacher so there is no law of averages to apply. The other key factor to education and specifically to my program is cooperative learning, encouraging kind debate and learning social justice. These don’t happen at home. I think of Abby and Gwenyth- Gwenyth would never have learned to share without her preschool class filled with similar minded girls who were all leaders. The worst part of school is cutting the tie and the illusiopn that your child cannot exist without you for a bit crumbling, the best part is realizing that they are their own people and that they can go out there and kick butt in the world. In conclusion (do I ever go on?), schools aren’t bad but parents need to push for an education that suits their beliefs and be active in the schools. It can’t just be a take it or leave it situation- school should be fun, learning should be about discovery and personal journeys but kids need to realize this with others and have chances to grow.
    With that said, it is easy to love my school- we’re worksheet/ text book free and we paint canvases, make mud pies, build pulley systems, climb snow mountains and “practice filling each other’s buckets” all day long. Maybe if I worked in a traditional school, I’d feel differently. But I say change the schools and not close them down…

    1. Hmmm… definitely see your point. Every single teacher that I know would be a far better teacher than I would. FAR better. I realize that it’s hardly feasible, but wouldn’t it be great to pick your teacher and methodology? I could find out what school Sonia or Nadine teach for… but even if I went to that school, I probably wouldn’t get them. Also, obviously, pay teachers better, have smaller class sizes, and have them work fewer hours. Teaching is the most exhausting thing that I have ever done. I can’t imagine doing it for the hours teachers do – and then volunteer for extra curricular stuff and mark! I can definitely see how different teachers would bring different things to the table. I have yet to meet a teacher I haven’t liked… they go into it because they love children and they have the patience of a saint. It’s just that some seem curt and more like they are “keeping the kids in line” – where the majority of interactions seem negative. I think these are probably the ones affected by the working conditions. Or maybe I am just being picky and Ama needs to get used of different styles…?

      See… that is just the type of classroom I’d love for Ama to be in. I didn’t learn all that much from school sadly as I just resisted it the entire time. My thinking is like French and Spanish for me. I wish now that I would have learned anything outside “Oui” and “No” from French class since I spent how many years in it. I didn’t. I only learned when I decided to learn Spanish and I sought it out on my own. It’s like that guy who works for the United Nations who knows umpteen languages but not French since he was raised in Canada and it was a requirement of his education. But how do you apply child led learning in the school system?

      I think the system and the teachers are doing a great job with what they have. I am not sure my idea of a perfect system is even applicable.

      I agree that throwing the baby out with the bath water is probably not the best idea.

      1. I have to agree and I hate when Aidan comes home complaining that school is boring and really do believe it shouldn’t be. That is what is nice about reggio schools and the like. The children choose the topics and we integrate all the basics- usually without trying. In my Kindergarten all the kids know how to write basic words and count past 20, etc. so they are high in the traditional elements as well but it is because of the fact that they choose to sit and write and so it becomes relevant and they remember how to do it. I don’t agree with traditonal settings either. Our school has gotten rid of desks for tables, carpets and couches. That way the children choose to sit, stand, stretch, etc. which is great for kids like me who are fidgetty. I also love when parents are active in the class and in reggio we see them as the first and most valuable teachers in a child’s life. They are the experts so their opinions matter. That is probably what you are looking for is a say in how your kids get to learn and a school that shares your values. As a teacher, I am happy when I can show parents a new way to teach their kids and there are lots of parents who have fought our no desk, no worksheet policies so we are not the school for them- but I always feel like we are the school for their kids not because we ace standardized tests because following a child’s interest is always better. The nice thing about schools is usually you get a lot of teachers who debate these things and research them before they get implemented so atleast there is a lot of thought going into how they get taught. Look at Teacher Tom’s website- he is my idol- such a genius. It is a parent participation school, you would probably like that. But the good thing is you are giving yourself lots of time to figure it out. And your choice will probably ultimatelty come from who Ama is at that age and what she needs. Aidan did well in the more traditional approach, Gwenyth needs space to be creative and Abby might need something else but they’ll probably all go to the same school and we’ll just hope for teachers who can differentiate and if not we’ll shop around for a school who meets their needs. These days there are so many options and lots of focus schools. And you still get them for the whole summer, weekends, evenings- remember teachers never work 🙂 and then you can fill in any blanks- the language, extra art, building huge lego cities, whatever. But if you do decide to homeschool, atleast find some support and not just the internet because it is always great to have someone challenge you in what you are doing and get good ideas from so you don’t miss something big. There is a mom I know who “homeschools” but they really only follow her intersts (the mom’s)- scrapbooking, cleaning, cooking, etc. There are certain things that every child needs and those are the ability to work with others, solve problems, being creative, kindness, time to explore and so many more. And you need balance but I can always send you the art ideas:)
        You would be a great teacher but it would need to be a full time job- I am not saying you don’t do anything without full committment but more for homeschoolers in general. You would be a great teacher- but even with 13 years of experience, 3 kids of my own and a BEd, it is something I am still constantly challenging myself to do better in and even half time, it is a full time job. Not to mention, I wouldn’t consider homeschooling my kids because as much as I love coming home at lunch and spending the day doing art, playing bakery, reading and what not, it so nice that they know our community and the people in it. And like I said that is my opinion- teacher biased and all. Love you and I sure you whatever you do with Ama will be fantastic because really the fact that you are thinking about this and considering options for her means that you are a great parent and in the end that will take her further in life than the best school- homeschooling curriculum- what have you- in the world could.

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