"I never teach my pupils; I only
attempt to provide the conditions in
which they can learn. "
~~ Albert Einstein
Our family's interests include reading, music, hiking, gardening, some sports, and travelling. We have found that our kids have picked up many interests during any of our activities, or while just kicking back at home, in making their own discoveries. We don't make a point to create days full of "learning experiences" or "lessons", but rather hope our kids will just take in what they are interested in form the world around them.
Because "the world is the classroom" to homeschoolers, you will find that most are very involved in their communities. They tend to know the people around them more as they interact while going about buisness. They have a real vested interest in what goes on in their communities, because this is where they spend their lives. What better way to see what occupations are out there than by being side by side with the people who are doing them? Not only can small children directly observe what people do, but older ones can and do apprentice to learn a skill or craft..or volunteer to gain a wealth of experience. This kind of flexibility in a typical homeschooler's day is something generally not available to kids confined to a 7-hour school day.
When exploring homeschooling for the first couple of years, I was very uneasy with this concept of "child-led" learning. ( and I still am every now and then)) But basic skills can be learned in very practical ways...math by baking and managing one's own money, writing and reading by coorsponding with friends and family, just to name a few ways. The desire to learn "basic skills" is often propelled by needing them to do something else. For example, my son wants to build model airplanes, but he needs to know how to read the directions. I think the drive to learn what is needed to participate in our society can be done in the context of our interests.
What I have learned first hand as my kids grow is to trust
that learning will happen when they are ready. I see this learning
in my children, in myself now, and in those around us. There
are countless books out there about interest-led learning. One great
publication, Growing Without Schooling, is written by homeschooling
kids and parents. It was a bimonthly magazine filled with the individual
experiences, and all were about learning within the context of living in
the real world. (Unfortunately, they have ceased publicaion recently,
after a 25 year running! There are copious back issues available.)
Learning as we live: a fly on
the wall at our house
A few words on preserving homeschooling freedom: preserving real educational choice
Our family is very fortunate to be living where there are few intrusions into our learning by the state. Many other homeschoolers are currently living with the above requirements, which are projections of public education's own measures on a group of people who don't participate in it's system. In many more places than not, public education (and the governments that fund it) has tried to bring homeschooling under it's own control...arrogantly presuming that it is the sole expert on learning. As a legislator in my state put it last Spring, "What is holding these children (homeschoolers) accountable for learning anything?" Homeschooling families answer, "We the parents are, thank you very much." Parents are ultimately responsible for their children, and homeschooling parents retain the primary responsibility of their children's education, instead of handing this responsibility to the state. Even more improtantly though, it is the children who are primarily responsible for their own learning. They own their own learning experiences, and make their own meaningful lives. They have their own drive to learn even without being made to follow a set course of study at arbitrarily choosen times of their lives.
State-mandated standardized testing, teacher evaluations, and curriculum requirements chip away at our homeschooling freedoms by allowing the state to have control over the learning process of our children. If we allow the states to continue to make legislation defining homeschooling (defining the requirements and what we can/can't do legally), our homes may very well become little public school satellites. In fact, many homeschooling proponents advise only to comply only with what is legally necessary and nothing more. The reason is if we voluntarily give information or submit to the wishes of school/state official, it gives the perception that homeschoolers are willing to be goverened by these officials. Homeschoolers do not get any special consideration or "extra credit" for providing more than the law requires.
Homeschooling is flexible, spontaneous, and practical.
it accomodates each and every learner, so she/he can aquire an education
and life experience in her/his own unique way and timetable. It is
an important education choice that we need to take great care to preserve.
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