My eldest son is old enough to be in kindergarten but we have chosen to take the path of home learning. Our decision has felt so natural that giving an account of our choice seems somewhat strange. I was not home schooled and neither was my husband yet we were surrounded by families that chose to teach their children at home. One family in particular made an impression on me, an imprint so strong that I may have made my choice about home learning years ago without realizing it. When I spent time with this family I saw how learning was intertwined in every aspect of their lives. There wasn’t a dichotomy between learning and living; learning was a just natural part of their lives.
After giving birth to my firstborn and experiencing the special bond that forms between a mother and her baby, I couldn’t bear sending him off to daycare. Thanks to my husband’s support I was able to stay home and not to return to work. I realize that this isn’t an option for everyone, and for the opportunity to stay home I feel very grateful.
As my son became preschool age I hesitated to send him to school. My Monkey, as I affectionately called him at that age, was a very busy boy, not interested in sitting down for story time or colouring nicely at the table, preschool didn’t seem like a good fit for him. At this point I was already thinking about home learning and started to question the purpose of preschool and school. I looked at the values that the school system holds and held them up to my own values. There was a great deal of discordance. My husband and I both want our children to have a great love for learning. We want to allow space for curiosity, exploration and unstructured play. Conformity is not our goal and neither is rote learning.
There are many home learning approaches. I don’t prescribe to one particular style but have a more eclectic sort-of-unschooling approach. We read a lot of books and enjoy “living books”, we go on nature walks and listen and move to beautiful music. I have purchased some curriculum such as Life of Fred, Primary Arts of Language and the Who Am I? series. We take a relaxed approach so while I offer my son opportunities for structured learning, which he seems to enjoy, it’s not forced. We also take part in a learning circle that meets twice a week for a variety of activities. Being part of this group has been a great way for our family to connect with other home learning families and to be part of a community.
At this point I am happy that we’ve made the decision to home learn. The experience has been both beautiful, chaotic and exhausting, which basically sums up what it’s like to be a mother on most days.