You know, it only occurred to me in the last 2 years that my homeschool philosophy is termed “unschooling”. I have always been eclectic in my curriculum choices and chosen a relaxed approach, but thought unschooling must mean sleeping in late, lounging around all day in jammies and watching “educational” TV to keep the kids busy till school hours were finally over.
Unschooling? No way, not for this mama!
For a bit of insight into why I choose to home school, we must go back to my childhood. I have two brothers, the older was sent to kindergarten, at an early 5 years old – crying everyday. In third grade he was held back a year, much to his chagrin. He thrived after that and today has a masters degree and owns his own construction business.
My second brother has dyslexia and struggled throughout his entire school career. Several years he was home schooled and went through many summer remedial schools. He never felt ‘good enough’. Today he is a pilot and owns two businesses. My brothers are not and never were stupid; simply crammed into a mold that not only did not fit, but actually had the potential to hurt them – thankfully their curiosity is greater than the injury and they are both successful today.
When I married, I learned that my husband’s brother also struggled with school. He displayed many dyslexic characteristics, although he was never tested. School was a constant, detested burden. He persevered to the finish of year 10, and promptly quit school to start farming with his dad- a perfectly accepted practice in Australia, if you are going into a trade.
Let me just say, when my two boys were born, I decided, that they would not go through the shame that their uncles endured. . . I wanted their childish interests, their sense of wonder, to never be squelched. Many years ago, I was challenged to create a name and write a mission statement for our home school, summing up the direction our schooling would take. Our home school is called WOW Academy – Won (to Christ) On Wonder. It’s mission states:
To strive, by God’s grace, to ensure that all education take place in an environment that encourages natural wonder, as we seek to:
- learn about, accept and share Jesus’ big love for us and others too; and to
- learn about this awe inspiring world that He made for our joy and education and about the things that make it go ‘round.
What a joy the journey has been! My boys, neither one, learned to read till they were 10 or 11 – pure terror! Two of my four kids display varying degrees of dyslexia – it scared me! I have close family, and friends even, that think I am crazy, not necessarily for choosing home schooling, but for how I facilitate that schooling – ugh! However. . . We love life, embrace the difficult and try all things new, if they enable us to glorify God and do not cause harm to others. My curriculum choices are those that help my kids learn according to their specific learning styles, and that I enjoy teaching from. I don’t pick a boxed curriculum for every subject, although I do for math and things like phonics – still it’s nice to make it as hands on and “real life” as possible. When it comes to history/social studies, geography, writing, art, music, PE, science, etc, we do many fun unit studies, on whatever my kids and I are interested in at that moment, including as much travel as we can possibly find time and/or money for. We cook, garden, shop, renovate, paint and build all the time, all together. We have animals – lots of them. We play (and work) together and in the process build canoes and forts, amongst other things; fix dirt bikes and tractors; and have “Wonderful Wednesday” every week – the girls are in charge of fixing our dinner and serving the rest of us, they even take our orders (such a treat for me)! Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” This is how I (attempt to) facilitate school for my kids, making it as hands on as possible, like real life. An equally important aspect of education, in our opinion, is community outreach/service. We have found 4-H to be a wonderful avenue for us, in this respect; roadside clean up, getting to know and caring for our neighbors, singing at the local nursing homes, and volunteering our time for various community events or places of business. We are not as thorough in making service 1/3 of our education (as the Moore Formula suggests), but that is one of my goals for this coming year. Anyway, this is just to name a few of the many ways we live and learn.
Today my oldest is all about airplanes and can’t wait to get his pilot’s license, he also thinks it’d be neat to develop a commune so he can live with all of his family and friends close together. My second wants to own a scrap yard, build bridges and create a birds only “zoo”. The third is excellent at math, music, cooking and is very crafty; but isn’t giving much thought to what she’ll do later in life, at this point. Number 4 is sure she’s going to be a: banker, music teacher, candy store owner and grocery store cashier. The sky is the limit! They spend much time researching the many many things they are interested in – they love to “study”- even though sometimes they don’t know that they are! I don’t know what tomorrow or next year will bring, but what a delight to have children who have not lost their wonder and therefore, love to learn – this is and has always been my desire.