Today I decided to dust off my blog and give it a fresh, new look for 2016. It came as quite a shock to see that my last post was in September 2015! Almost twelve months has zipped by. I'm sat here trying to piece together the events of that period in my head so that I can play catch up. The biggest change I guess, is that I am now home schooling my daughter, Zoe, as well as Sam. Unlike Sam, Zoe has no genetic syndromes to contend with and no obvious learning difficulties, other than "Math is not my thing".
So why did I decide to home school Zoe too?
I'm asked this quite a lot and I've struggled to offer a simple answer. Perhaps because there is no simple answer. With Sam's learning issues, I found that people were more accepting of my decision. Not that I had anyone criticise me - well, not to my face - but, most people could understand why I needed to consider this option for him. His learning needed to be heavily accommodated and to be much more flexible than a school environment could offer. Physically and emotionally, he tired easily. He didn't have the stamina to cope with a typical school day. Then earlier this year, after discussing the idea with my husband, I pulled Zoe out of school and brought her into our home school fold. That decision did raise a few eyebrows.
Zoe is developing normally. She does not have the severe learning difficulties faced by her younger brother.
First let me say, it had nothing to do with her teacher or the school. I had a great relationship with all Zoe's teachers and the school itself. In fact I still do. Many I am lucky to call my friends and we are often sharing lesson ideas and links for cool teaching resources. The seed of this idea germinated when I was planning excursions for Sam. I began to think, "Zoe would really love to do this." When I prepared lessons, I started thinking about all the things I could do with Zoe if she were home. The flexibility and creativity home schooling offers Sam is fantastic and I began wishing that for Zoe too.
I also believe that the education system in Australia has taken a wrong turn. The demands of the curriculum are unrealistic; standardised testing, instead of actual learning, seems to have become the priority; play based learning in early learning has been eroded away; teachers are overworked and often unappreciated; schools are bogged down with administration and the introduction of home work in primary school has increased the pressure on our children. They have less play time at school than I certainly did, and they have less down time when they get home because of home work. It is no surprise that schools and parents are seeing and dealing with more and more behavioural and emotional issues with their students and children. The UK and USA have very similar issues. In the race to produce the 'best' students, education has become almost an administration process, not a journey of exploration and discovery.
So back to why I chose to home school. I want my kids to have more freedom and flexibility. I want them to have a strong foundation in the core learning areas - reading, writing and math, but I also want them to have the chance to fully explore areas that are noticeably sliding down the 'essential' learning ladder in our education system, like Art, Science and Music. I want them to have some input into learning content. To use things that they find fun so that they are more connected with, and engaged in, what we learn about. I want them to be able to take more time on skills that they find difficult, without fear of falling behind their peers. I also want them to be able to jump ahead and explore stuff that really interests them. I want them to think critically and creatively and to understand the journey of discovery is just as important as the destination. I want them to know that they are more than a test result. I want them to have fun learning.
Oh and before I forget, let's touch on the concern most non-home schoolers have about home schooling - socialisation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the definition of the word 'socialisation' is 1. The activity of mixing socially with others; 2. The process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society. When you really think about it, most of our children's undesirable behaviours appear after they start school. I'm not saying children will be perfect if they home school, far from it, but school is not the only place to learn how to mix with people and what is acceptable behaviour. They learn at home, with family, with friends; when they go out to the shops, the park, or on a play date. They learn from movies, television programs, advertising and computer games. Every human interaction or observation is a social learning experience. It is our role as a parent to help them develop these skills so that they become confident, understanding and empathetic people. Strangely enough, apart from not attending school, we probably do more 'social' activities now than we did before.
Home schooling is not easy. There is a lot of lesson preparation and also administrative paperwork to comply with the home school registration requirements. There are days when either myself, the kids, or both, struggle to get motivated. That's when home schooling has its perks. I'd rather skip a day now and then rather than push and fail. So if it's a nice day, we'll head out to a local park or take a trip. If it's a grey, rainy day, we will snuggle up on the sofa to watch a movie or play some games. Home schooling is not for everyone, but I love it. Teaching and learning is a passion and when you are doing it right, it is so much fun.
|I was asked the other day if I have a home school room. |
"No," I replied. "I have a home school house!"
|Our back sliding door is great for learning posters. I refresh them each term.|
|Excursion time. A rainforest walk with Nanny.|
|Sam and Daddy making sand pictures at a local museum.|
|Zoe's best friend comes over after school twice a week. Some times we will do an activity of some sort. Most of the time they just play. This was cake decorating. Messy, but yummy.|
|I love doing lessons outside when the weather is nice. Today I discovered the glass top outdoor table is great for painting on.|
|These are our learning trees. We have weekly learning goals and always a number of projects that involve several areas of learning on the go. Zoe was working on a stop/go animation video for the eight times table for a few weeks. At the moment she is working on a documentary style video using her research into Lady Birds.|