There are so many kinds of homeschooling, so many approaches, so many theories, so many RIGHT ways...How does a person choose?
Classical, Waldorf, Jeffersonian, Eclectic, School-At-Home, Creationist, Unschooling, and more. How does one choose which approach to use? Do you have to choose one approach? Is it really possible to combine several and come out with something that actually works? Maybe this is what I should be call my homeschooling system: Frankensteinian. A weird combo of a bunch of stuff that works for us and frightens others. Yes, I like it!
Maybe I've mentioned that I unjoined or quit reading several of the homeschool e-mail lists I've subbed to? I did this in an effort to limit my media access and to help me focus on what's important to me and to my family. What do we want our kids to know? What kind of people do I want them to be? One of the neat things about homeschooling is that there are million answers, more than that--a quadoodledillion of them!--one for each family and perhaps even one for each child. I know that having the leisure of looking at some of my kids who are already grown makes it possible for me to understand how really durable a kid is and how they can turn out okay despite some grave parenting mistakes, as long as you manage to outweigh those mistakes with a greater good. I think that's it, anyway. Maybe they were just destined to be great kids and I had nothing to do with it. As for the little one and her 15 year old brother, they are still works in progress.
To me it's important that my children be literate. I don't mean able to read on a 4th grade level which is what our local newspaper is written on. I mean culturally literate, literate enough to understand puns and jokes, speeches and poetry. Literate enough to have a great conversation because this is one of the keys to being a confident human being. Communication skills are a huge deal. I also want them to be empathetic, understanding and loving. Notice that I am listing these qualities before most academic skills. Of course they need to be able to perform basic mathematical functions and maybe more than that, depending on their career choices. They are already well-traveled and become more so with each year. A broad knowledge of world history, not just US history is a necessity as I would like for them to be residents of a global community, a community that is aware and caring of the people enslaved in the Middle East and the children in Bangladeshi sweat shops. I want them to have the quality called 'depth' so that they can consider political and environmental and personal issues in the best possible way for them and hopefully they will be able to think their way out of the boxes that folks will attempt to stuff them into. I want them to be free to be rebels against consumer culture and, to be honest, I will be disappointed with any of my children who think that having a Lexus SUV makes them a better person than someone who drives a 15 year old car. I won't list all the reasons that this is true for me. Not only do I want them to be educated, I want them to be aware.
So here we are in our homeschool where I am combining all sorts of ideologies into one big stew. It's a constant balancing act for me between my typical homeschooling parent's desire to stuff it all in immediately and the knowledge that I can't force anything to grow, certainly not the minds of my children. I'm learning to move slowly, to work with their rhythms and learning styles. We may be building Frankenstein, but he's prettier than I remember.
Bettina Colonna Essert is a native of the Virginia/North Carolina borderland. She currently lives on a 'farmette' in rural NE NC with her husband, 2 home schooled children and a menagerie of farm animals. Bettina is an Equine Sports Massage Therapist and also handcrafts a line of fine, organic bath products, Alchemy Redefined.
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