Not having to stick to a routine,curriculum or structure devised by someone else. Having complete freedom to decide for ourselves when, where and what to learn and how.Its fantastic but also at the same time daunting.
I think anyone who keeps their kids out of school must feel the same way at times because it appears that there is so much room for error .Am I cut out for the job, as a parent to homeschool? Will my kids learn as much at home as they do in school? Will they be motivated to learn at home? The list of questions is endless and if you look on any homeschool forum you will find plenty of questions asked by those considering or starting out in homeschooling.
When researching homeschooling you also come across the many different ways you can educate your kids. Countless online curriculums, flexischooling homeschooling, unschooling, radical unschooling, whole learning to name just a few.
R stopped going to school three and a half months ago and over that time I have been asked many times about how we are doing with the homeschooling. Of course people are interested and have varied opinions on the subject. My answer to the question is always that "We are doing just fine, thankyou." which we are, but to be truthful we have not been homeschooling. At least not in the true sense of the word. School text books have been opened up on the odd occasion and R still attends hindi tuition classes, she still studies maths, english, science etc but we have not followed any set curriculum, I have not devised a timetable,we dont have a fixed time or place to study and only a few times have I actually asked her to do any school work. I have pretty much left her to her own devices. Some days she has sat and worked her way through a maths work book, some days she has read her latest library book from dawn til dusk,other days she has watched Discovery Kids on TV for most of the day or spent the entire day in the garden playing with her dogs and planting seeds etc.. the choice is hers.
Many times she has had to tag along with me whilst I do my work and she often has to be imaginative in how to fill her time whilst Im in meetings etc too.
Some people call what we are doing 'Deschooling'. However we are not doing it because someone said we should or because we need to label what we are doing. We are doing this because we needed to. I believe it has been necessary.
Why? Well towards the end of her time in school R really began to lose her way. She was getting good grades but she had lost the motivation to learn. I began to worry about her because she was losing that desire and enjoyment in learning which had been there before and was feeling a lot of pressure to put time and energy into doing things which were not meaningful to her. Essentially she was losing her connection with herself.
This time out of school has been precious because it has allowed her to just BE. To be a child , to be free. It has created a space in which she can decide for herself and in her own time what is important and meaningful.
Lately I have been noticing the changes in R. She has grown in confidence. She asks more questions. She asks BIG questions. She doesnt just accept the first answer you give her,she takes the subject further. Shes more curious. She happily takes on responsibilty. She speaks up if something appears wrong to her. Shes more willing to try new things. She explores many different ways of doing things. She sees the wonder in everything now. She is HAPPY.
The school year is drawing to an end here in India and R's friends are studying for exams. R wont be taking any exams and her school year isnt ending. She is thinking, planning, speculating about which books she wants to study from, bookmarking websites, researching topics, considering new hobbies, she has a renewed motivation to learn, a rekindled desire to research,study and learn new skills. She knows that its all up to her and shes embracing the responsibilty.
As I write its 8.30pm on a Friday night. My girls have just come back from the beach where they swam and played, then along with their dad helped the local fishermen haul in their fishing net. They came home with a share of the fish which they first identified as a ladyfish and sardines then watched as their dad showed them how to prepare and cook them. The whole time R was explaining to her little sister the nutritional benefits of eating fish. They ate their fish dinner and are both now sprawled out on the lounge floor in their PJ's creating projects on chart paper about animals.