It seems the world is all back in the back to school frenzy. After a summer of day trips and playgrounds, creek walks and fun everyone is school shopping and buying new clothes, books, pencils, backpacks, lunchboxes etc. The first year we chose to homeschool, I remember feeling a little nostalgic as everyone else was posting back to school pictures on Facebook. This year, I am also overwhelmed with feelings, but they sure are different feelings. While truth be told there ARE days where I wish I could just get a break and send the bigger ones off on the bus, I am SO grateful I have the choice to opt out of that scene.
I am so glad that every family gets the chance to make the choice of what works best for THEM. I don't think there is a one sized fits all answer for all families and all kids. I think there are great schools out there, and amazing teachers who are striving to teach outside of the box (Howard is one of them, though I might be biased). There may come a day where school works best for our family, but for now...I am grateful that we don't HAVE to subscribe to sending them to school every day.
I cannot count how many times people ask about our family and comment on how busy things must be and then they find out we "school" our kids at home and they make comments like, "I don't know how you do it!" or "You must be so patient", and the truth is...it just fits for us...it works and I am NOT SO patient, but God sure does provide me A LOT of opportunities to practice that skill each day. :)
For us, I am glad that as everyone goes back to school, we will get full run of the zoo, children's museum, science museums and playgrounds again, I am glad that we can live at a pace that works for us and incorporate learning into our activities all day long. For us a new "school year" never really starts because the previous one never really ended. We are learning all day every day and following the kids interests and we are astounded at how they are growing and thriving. Learning and living are one in the same and we've seen the kids just take off learning things they are excited about and that they likely wouldn't be necessarily learning in a classroom that is confined to teaching standardized test material.
It has taken us a few years and a lot of mistakes and trying to recreate school at home to realize, that I don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on curriculum and materials, letting a kid loose at the library has proven to be much more lucrative for us although, I also have learned to set aside a little money in the budget for the fees that often follow a trip to the library. Learning to trust these kids to KNOW what they want to learn and trust the process that they will WANT to be educated when it is made relevant to them has not been easy for me and sometimes I still struggle, but last year instead of spending a fortune on curriculum, I set aside some money for daytrips and projects and both Luke, Ben and even Hope went so far above and beyond my expectations that I just couldn't argue with the process.
“True learning -learning that is permanent and useful, that leads to intelligent action and further learning, can arise only out of the experience, interest, and concerns of the learner” ~John Holt
I feel like we are intentionally preparing our kids for real life. Learning isn't just for certain hours and certain days of the week here...we find teachable moments all day long every single day and it is a fit for us. As we begin our fall and Howard goes back to school, and tries to inspire and make a difference, I get to do the same for my own kids and I am grateful. I am grateful that I have that choice, and I am grateful that for those families who school is a fit for, get that choice. There ARE great schools out there, great teachers, and I am sure many great parents who supplement those schools and help their children learn and discover in their time out of school. There is no perfect situation, I am just super grateful we found what works for us right now.