Saturday, January 14, 2012

Enquiring minds and homeschooling

We are busy here in the Guest household.

Like CRAZY busy.

We are starting to get a rhythm to our days .  We will probably get it sorted just before we need to go to the mainland for Kaylee's surgery and then we will have to start all over again, but anyway.

Enquring minds want to know if/how we are going to homeschool still.

The short answer is:  Yes, for now - the same way we always have.

The long answer you really don't want to hear unless you are having trouble sleeping.  No, seriously once I get going I can be REALLY boring.  I use phrases like "The cultural transferability of the Finnish, American and Asian educational principles..."  and "The political bastardisation of the purpose of NAPLAN in response to cultural demand driven by unscrupulous popular 'journalism'..." and using acronyms like OECD and PISA and giving really LONG detailed definitions of words and phrases like "socialisation" and "academic success".  


But the medium length answer is this:

We don't homeschool our kids out of a fear of what's "out there".  We don't homeschool our kids because we believe homeschooling itself  is perfect.  I have met people who attended school AND people who were homeschooled who have passionate relationships with Christ, are successful in their chosen field and are genuinely nice people.  I have also met people from both modes of schooling who do not have a relationship with Christ (in spite of a home which was, from all appearances, deeply Christian), do not experience success in their chosen field and/or are really not nice people to be around.

We homeschool our kids because we believe it's the best choice for us right now and the choice that God is leading us to make.  It allows us a huge degree of flexibility - giving us the freedom to take all the kids with us to Melbourne without fear of interrupting their academic progress.  It allows us to tailor the children's academic program around their individual needs which supports them in progressing at their own rate through the material rather than struggling to keep up or waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.  It allows us to spend time together as a family nurturing, passing on values, explicitly teaching our faith and generally having a jolly good time.

But enquiring minds also want to know:  how do we find the time in our crazy busy day?

I think most people vastly over estimate the amount of time needed to school a child.  Yes, at SCHOOL school, kids spend 6 hours a day being taught.....or do they?  Take away all the time children spend at lunch and recess, lining up, waiting for assembly to start, waiting for the teacher, walking to special lessons, attending special programs, on excursions etc. and it starts to look substantially less than 6 hours.  In fact, at uni I was told that the majority of students average about two to three hours a day actual school work.  And of that time, less than an hour is spent under direct instruction by the teacher. 

Do you know how many hours a day I spend hooked up to a breast pump?  About a bazzilion (well, at least 4-6).  And guess what?  I can listen to kids read, teach math, play phonics games and supervise bookwork while I am hooked up to the breast pump.

Do you know how long it takes for us to eat lunch and breakfast?  About an hour.  And I can read aloud, discuss and ask questions while we eat.

Do you know how much time Jon and I spend preparing meals and cleaning the kitchen?  Neither do I but it's a lot.  And we can do it while someone perches on a chair in the corner and reads to us, or while supervising someone at the table who is completing an assignment or even while teaching someone how to cook and clean.  

Measurement and basic maths is a huge part of cooking and Erin can already double and treble recipes in her head - including doubling and trebling fractions.  Billy, Christopher and Anna can all count out the number of onions, carrots or potatoes we need.  Chores require sequencing, self organisation, fine and/or gross motor skills and have many other educational benefits.  Many schools are now taking part in a program to grow a kitchen garden and teach the kids to cook....just like we already do except we don't really call it school, we just call it life.

And the majority of actual school work does not need myself or Jon to give our undivided attention.

I strongly believe that if a child cannot do the work without an adult prompting them they cannot do the work so our schooling program has always been organised so that the kids are largely self-sufficient.  Only requiring occasional standing over with a big stick (it's a figure of speech.....the stick is actually quite small) to get the daily stuff done.

Socially, the kids are getting even more time with people outside our family now that Kaylee is a part of our lives.  They also still make it to pretty much all the things we were participating in before Kaylee was born.  There are also about a million articles and studies available online which explore the question of socialisation and the homeschooled child so I am going to let enquiring minds do their own googling and leave it at:  "we have thought of it, are aware of it and aren't planning on making our children into socially inept individuals who can't hold a polite conversation or maintain meaningful relationships....thank you for your concern."

So for now, we are planning to continue homeschooling, it is actually the high point of our day.

This fits with my high tech plan of "do what works while it works and when it stops working, change it".

Hopefully, enquiring minds will now be satisfied ;)


kate said...


Seaweed and Raine said...

And just think of the time that you aren't having prep for school: lunches, notes for the teacher, homework signed off, school run 2x a day... time that you are likely hooked up to the pump! :) Good management mama! :)

DaughterofEve said...

I do like your gentle humour!

skimbly said...

Yeah, what you said! My husband has noticed that when we take our ('unsocialized') children out, they are the ones who introduce themselves to others - and are often flatly ignored by the other ('socialized') children. I'll take unsocialization any day, thanks! :)