Homeschooling 101

When people think of homeschooling, they think of mom standing in front of a white board, marker in hand, while her children who are dressed so perfectly, sit with abetted breath, waiting for that incredible lesson taught just the right way, before mom moves on to serve a completely organic home made meal for lunch. 

There are homeschoolers like that. You can find them mostly on Pinterest, or on Well Trained Mind boards. Usually they are Type A, and have at least a bachelors degree in Education, if not a masters, or Ph.D. There is nothing wrong with homeschooling like that – but we need to change the vernacular. It’s not homeschooling – rather it’s School at Home. Sometimes there are versions of this type of homeschooling that are not so rigid, they can be called Traditional, or Classical. Classical homeschooling is following a set curriculum. Maybe not the curriculum set by the school boards. However, they make sure that all the sit down work gets done on time.

There are so many blogs, websites and resources for these types of education models; this blog isn’t like that. 

We are what you call Eclectic Unschoolers. We kind of take from all types and smash them all together to create a learning plan (or lack of one), that best supports each individual child’s educational needs, wants, and desires. Wondering what an Eclectic Unschooler is? Let me break it down for you. 

An Eclectic Homeschooler is one that dabbles in different types of curriculum. They like to have a plan, and a schedule. As someone who likes lists and plans – I spend a great deal of time and money on said items. Eclectic homeschoolers like to go to classes, and outsource learning to other educators to make for a well rounded learning experience. You will never find two eclectic homeschoolers that share the exact same goals – or the way that they execute their learning plans. They may like Charlotte Mason, take ideas from Alfie Kohn, and listen to John Gatto. If a homeschooler uses two or more teaching types or philosophies they will most definitely categorize themselves as an Eclectic Homeschooler. 

An Unschooler is almost a dirty word to most educators. The general public certainly doesn’t understand. Some unschoolers themselves wake up in a cold sweat after they have watched yet another House-Swap episode, where unschoolers were a featured family. Frantically hoping that they are not perceived like that, or that they are irreparably damaging their child.

Unschooling or Child-Led Learning (as many unschoolers will now use thanks to Wife-Swap) is when you follow what your child wants to learn. That’s the bottom line. You can have variants of unschooling, some more “radical” than others. Some radical unschoolers do not believe in placing any limits or rules on their children, but some do. The main tenet is that the child needs to be intrinsically motivated to retain anything that he or she may learn. However, they can’t do that if you are stuffing things that are inherently boring into their brain. So, if the child doesn’t want to read until they need to – you just don’t stress. Studies have shown that unschooled children will in fact learn how to read, learn math, or anything else they need to do, in a fraction of the time that it takes kids that have been doing it all along. 

So, where do we fall on the spectrum? Well, our kids are blended. That means that our kids go to classes. We use a tutor. We outsource. Our kids even go to a school for homeschoolers once a week (that is more for me than for them), where they meet friends, learn government curriculum, and they get to go on field trips. All the fun stuff that happened in school, but 1/6th of the time spent. However, when they are at home we have curriculum that they can use when they want, or if they want – but we really only follow what they want to learn. We ask our kids and we get them the support and resources they need. So far it has worked for us. 

Two of our kids have ADHD, and that in itself is a huge challenge, so homeschooling doesn’t look as pretty as it sometimes comes across on the inter-web. Sometimes we have great days, and other times the chaos is almost too much to bear. 

But, Homeschooling is a philosophy of living. We do not just homeschool – we are forever homeschoolers. I hope you will stay and join me, it’s not always Pinterest worthy – but it is real life.  

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