One of the great things about homeschooling is that you have to decide for yourself how you want to do it.
Yes, there are plenty of people out there who will be very happy to tell you the best way to educate your kids. And yes, there are a boggling array of possibilities. But in the end, every homeschooling parent has to figure out what is right for themselves and their families.
A Progression of Growth and Learning: Some Inspiring Homeschool Resources
The resources, inspiration and philosophies that guide my homeschooling have changed over the 3-4 years that I’ve been researching and learning about it. As Renee very observantly points out in her post, At The Edge, my reading and writing about homeschooling often reflects the leading edge of my personal development, and the books and philosophies that I’m excited and inspired by have changed as I learn and experience more on this journey called homeschooling. I’ve gleaned something useful from each resource, but I don’t subscribe to anything 100% (Or at least I haven’t done so yet). Every philosophy is tempered by our actual, real life experience. Here’s what our path has looked like so far.
John Taylor Gatto was the “lightbulb” moment that lit up homeschooling as a real possibility for me when I read it three and a half or four years ago. Weapons Of Mass Instruction read like a conspiracy theory or revolutionary call to arms, but at the same time it illuminated and articulated much of what I found personally challenging and dissatisfying about my own experience in public school.
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense helped me see what homeschooling looked like for a real family. I especially appreciated Guterson’s perspective as a bridge between the worlds of public schooling (he’s a high school english teacher) and homeschooling (his wife homeschools their 4 kids). This book was helpful in my information gathering phase, and helped me understand all the great reasons WHY homeschooling works.
After I was convinced of the WHY I started looking for answers to the question of HOW to homeschool. I discovered Classical Education and The Well-trained Mind, which appeals to the methodical, to-do list loving parts of my personality. The idea of studying history (and everything else) in a repeating four-year cycle made a lot of sense. John Holt and other Unschooling resources are attractive to the part of me that recognizes that all I wanted to do as a child was read and write stories, and actually spent many hours at school reading novels under my desk. For a while I wondered whether it was possible to be a Classical and Unschooling homeschool family at the same time.
After some real-world, hands on experience, I learned that I needed to find a balance between parent-directed and child-led learning without subscribing to a particular philosophy (or two). I started looking for ways to encourage and set up learning activities for my kids without necessarily directing them or leaving them to their own devices. Playful Learning, Project Based Homeschooling and other Reggio-inspired resources have helped me understand what kind of role I can take as a mentor and learning facilitator. I learned how to be my child’s documentarian and I started setting up our supplies in a more accessible, kid-friendly way.
Learning About Learning
For me, homeschooling hasn’t been only about how the kids learn. The process of researching, wondering, experimenting and reflecting on the process of learning has been a huge learning process for me too. I can’t say exactly where we will end up with any certainty, but I am focusing on moving towards learning that is collaborative, creative, and mutually agreed upon.
In Project-Based Homeschooling, Lori uses a great analogy – mentoring self-directed learners is like rolling a hula hoop downhill. You might need to give it a little push to get it going, and the hoop will need a steadying touch now and then, but the momentum of gravity will be doing most of the work. I’ve paraphrased the quote because I didn’t bookmark the passage on my first read through, but I love the image of the hula hoop rolling downhill.
This is what I am working towards: that sweet spot where the love of learning and the excitement for the project itself is motivating my children (and myself) to work hard, develop new skills and flourish creatively.