I don’t know when it started, but somewhere along the line I got it into my head to think about homeschooling my children. Actually, I do know when it started, although not really.
I read a book. That’s how most things seem to start for me.
I read a book. Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate’s Hold on to Your Kids. The thesis of this book is that kids are becoming too peer-oriented, and this is causing parents to lose their ability to parent their children.
Basically, the thought is that kids can only have one primary attachment, whether it be parents, or friends. Hey all, realized I said this poorly. Let’s try this again. Kids’ primary attachment should be their parents, or another caring, loving adult, or adults. Ideally, this would be a larger community of both adults and children. However, if kids’ attachment to friends (or anyone else for that matter) is in conflict with that of their parents’, trouble can be brewing. Because they will have to choose. And if parents and their kids aren’t securely attached (due, largely to the structures of today’s society), kids will choose friends. And friends, as much as they might care about your children, are not a good replacement for a wise and caring parent. A parent who always has their best interests in mind. That is a very short summary, and, of course, I am missing key elements. Still, it got me thinking.
Neufeld and Mate suggest that homeschooling can be a good option, by helping to keep the parent-child attachment functioning. It’s all about relationship.
Anyways, all of this got me thinking of the real possibility of homeschooling. Would it be a good option for us? Because I have always been drawn to the concept. It just sounds like so much fun. And it seems to make so much sense.
Lately, it has seemed a bit strange to me that we send kids to school for the majority of their day, away from their families, to be raised by someone else (I know there are a million reasons why we do this, and many, many, many are valid). Still, it also seems strange that we group them in like ages, and they grow up thinking this is a normal part of life, to be with peers of their same age – exactly. To me, it seems plain weird. When you think about it. Is there any other time in a person’s life that this happens? And is it really to everyone’s benefit? Specifically, the child’s?
I don’t have the answer to those questions. Maybe you do?
Then, after reading Hold on to Your Kids, I read The Element, by Sir Ken Robinson. Another proponent of re-examining our educational system. Again, he doesn’t advocate homeschooling, per se, but suggests it could be a good option. Because it allows parents to tailor learning to a child’s distinct learning style, and strengths. More food for thought.
Finally, I happened upon unschooling. And I think I am in love.
The philosophy that governs unschooling is that kids (people in general) are naturally inclined to learn. Encouraged in this direction, and left to their own devices, they will want to discover their world. They will want to know things. They will want to learn. This educational philosophy, if I’m understanding it correctly, says that parents can best support their kids by allowing them to be guided, in large part, by their own whims and passions. Learning co-inciding with interest and ability. Unschoolers learn at their own pace, and aren’t beholden to any particular curriculum. They are above all, lifelong learners.
This is where I get chills. Good ones. For many reasons, one of which is the fact that I, too, love learning. The process of learning just about anything excites me. Another is that I am a librarian (or maybe this is why I am a librarian). Librarians are huge proponents of lifelong learning. This, I would argue, is what we are all about. And we are also great researchers.
So, my imagined unschooling life has me helping my children discover their true potential, following their passions, and learning through life experiences. An education outside the box. I imagine us discovering things together along the way. Exploring the world with eagerness and curiousity. Travelling? Reading? Researching? Experimenting? You bet.
And what better person than a research expert – an expert in lifelong learning – to provide this kind of education for my children. So, tell me, am I being idealistic? Is this to good to be true. Or is it truly an ideal way to learn. Because it kind of seems that way to me.
(My kids are currently 3 years and 9 months, so this is research for me at this point).
Related Articles ( I haven’t checked these out yet, but I will):
- 50 Best Blogs in the Unschooling Movement (onlinecollege.org)