We really started with homschooling last year: sensory bins, books, museum learning and art exploration were the focus of our homeschooling last year. I used Aodhan’s interests to guide our learning and I wasn’t interested in meeting any standards or matching up with any curriculum.
I still have no use for curriculum guidelines or Ministry of Education standards. Learning is just going to happen and I prefer to foster the idea that there is no universal way of learning, nor should learning be shunted into a linear path. But, I also don’t ignore the skills that my son seems keen to grasp.
We aren’t unschoolers. Maybe that is because we are both teachers. Maybe it is Aodhan’s disposition. Maybe it is because we don’t live on an acreage where Aodhan can just be outside for hours and hours. Maybe I enjoy setting out learning activities for my son. Whatever the reasons, we probably fall more into the radical homeschooler group. We don’t use a curriculum, but I do know about child development and education theory, and I do use loads of educational resources. Mostly, we play. We do not sit down and do work sheets, nor do we use text books or education-specific videos; mostly, we use our community and the larger city as massive tools in our learning journey.
Because play is our pathway through learning, we are always at ‘school’, but there is a slight shift when Kevin goes back to work at the end of the summer and we tend to start to focus more on our art projects and science explorations. This year, dinosaurs have almost replaced last year’s obsession with the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, Aodhan is still constantly asking me questions about deep sea squid and anglers, and loves to play BlobFish with his grammy, but dinos have been a huge focus for our exploring lately. We have spent an awful lot of time at the exceptional dinosaur museum exhibit that Toronto’s ROM is currently hosting. We have also been dramatizing the lives that we imagine dinosaurs would have experienced, making lots of use of our Pteradon wings.
Last week we had lots of fun with welcoming Fall into our lives and thinking about the changes our environment will experince over the next couple of months. Aodhan is a huge fan of pumpkins, so we had to pull out the felt pumpkins to work on size ordering. We also reused our paper pumpkins from last year, so we could sing 5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate. We also had loads of fun rolling in the leaves after we used them and some cardboard trees to practice our counting. And we have loved the idea that I borrowed from Toddler Approved for counting and playing with our laminated acorns and contact paper.
We are using contact paper again this week with some pattern block boards that fit easily on our playroom door. We have also been playing with patterning because Aodhan is now counting up to 30 and I think he might be ready to make big leaps with maths, so I thought patterning would be a helpful for his brain.
We homeschool because we want to and because we can. Homeschooling your kid for any length of time, if that is your desire, is a luxury. Our economic system isn’t set up for homeschooling – I should have gone back to work 2 years ago. I am letting down my goal driven society by not focusing on the career I spent years educating myself for, and opting to be home with our son. I do recognize that we have the privilege needed to make this possible, and I don’t judge people who make different choices for educating their kids – whether they have the privilege or not.
I do get pretty annoyed with people who seem to think that they can prophesize about my son’s behaviour and experiences in later years, assuming that he will be socially stunted by our choice to homeschool in the early years. They assume that Aodhan won’t make it in social situations when, and if, he eventually goes to a ‘school’. I can tell you that as a teacher who had homeschooled children in her classroom that the only skills they ever lacked were those behaviours that are drilled in by fear and en masse discipline. They had a voice and used it; with me and with their fellow students, they were comfortable sharing their ideas and were not afraid to stand up against ideas that didn’t make sense to them. How about you don’t judge us, and I won’t judge you? Sounds like basic playground rules, don’t you think?
Happy learning to everyone, no matter how you do it.
I am including this post in this month’s Natural Parents Network Blog Hop, which is hosted by A Farmer’s Daughter and her Country Boys!