Homeschooling


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson




As promised I will share with you some of our homeschooling plans.  Oh where to begin?  First I will start with a bit of a disclaimer.  I know many readers and friends who have no desire to homeschool or practice our style of parenting and that is totally fine.  We fully respect those decisions and in no way want to give the impression that our way is the only way or the right way.  Our personal experiences shape our present day decisions and convictions.  I also believe that some children excel in a school situation while others flounder.  One method is sure to work some and fail for others.  Today I will share our views with no hidden agenda or judgement of what others are doing.  I will warn you, rather unapologetically,  that I may be opinionated in this post.  You have your convictions and we have ours and that’s what makes the world go ’round.


I am tempted to make a bulleted list of points so here goes:

  • One of the things Mike and I would like to instill in our children is a sense of self and great confidence something we both lack and struggle with at times.  When you know who you are and what you will stand for you also know who you are not and what you won’t stand for.  In a class of 25 or 30 students how much of yourself must be given up in order to be liked or to fit in?  Do we dim our light in an effort to make others feel less threatened? 
  • I am of the belief that children are natural learners and that the rigors of school can kill that delicacy in some children.  They may continue to preform, but I can’t help but wonder if comes from a place of people pleasing or from a place of authentic interest and motivation.
  • Many people argue that school teaches children how to deal with later real life situations where they will be forced to work with and for people we don’t like or agree with.  Sure we won’t always be dealt perfect situations in our lives, but do I want a child who will adapt to unpleasant and possibly abusive situations or do I want my child to be strong enough to change what they don’t like?
  • I like the idea of teaching to the level of our own understanding and then reaching out for help if there is an interest to go further.  If a child doesn’t enjoy math chances are they will not choose a career involving math.  I was taught way more math than I had any interest in and only retained the stuff I need to live.  What I am trying to say is that there are tutors and friends out there with strengths we may not have to round out the child’s learning experience.  It takes a village.
  • We really love the free flow of unschooling and the rhythm and beauty of Waldorf.  We don’t want a strict curriculum, but we think that a few hours in the morning spent on reading, writing and other basic “conventionall” learning is something we’re comfortable with especially when we will have the remaining day and night to follow our hearts into whatever task or topic we desire.  
  • I have great admiration for those who do unschooling full time.  It takes a lot of trust and confidence.  Mike and I are worriers by nature and don’t think we could shrug off the doubt and worry.  So we feel the balance of structure and free flow will be good for us and our comfort level.
  • We don’t have cable and we haven’t had it for years.  I don’t like the fast paced, strobe light effect of commercials and short digitally animated shows.  I think it is distracting and headache inducing so I can only imagine how it makes children feel.  I don’t believe the television is ever really quality entertainment for any age of child.  Their time is better spent reading, playing, chatting, getting dirty and interacting with other people and nature as often as possible.  That being said my kids do watch movies.  And yes, they watch Disney movies.  Some of them have fun songs and the stories are often from way back with some decent morals.  Some of our favourites are The Resucuers, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, and the original Winnie the Pooh.  I would like to add Mary Poppins, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks and The Sound of Music to this list as well. Sometimes they watch older Sesame Street and Berenstain Bears episodes on Netflix.  I choose them carefully.  I do it because I am alone all day without a car with a needy one year old and a napless two and a half year old.   I need a break.  That is the reality of it.  I hope that when they are a tad bit older they can play for longer periods of time together without biting pulling and pushing and that we will spend endless hours crafting, baking and exploring.  The days are long and a movie gives me a chance to breathe and maybe even write a blog or answer emails.
  • We have a lot of good homemade music and even some prefab dance music.  No matter how many options we give Poppy, her favourite song to dance to is still Telephones by Lady Gaga.  We also have some kid’s music that I remember singing as a child, but our favourite is anything by Elizabeth Mitchell.
  • Toys are tricky.  As much as we try to have simple, open ended toys we still have many noise making pieces of plastic.  Some have been gifts and some have been purchased by us at yard sales and thrift stores.  I prefer the warmth of wooden or natural fiber toys especially when they are handmade.  Yet we still have a mess of toys in every room and it seems that the kids only handle them long enough to toss them on the floor and move on to something else.    I think it is time to purge the plastic again.

An incomplete and ever-growing list of our favourite things…

Books
Heaven on Earth
John Holt’s books
Seven Times the Sun
Dr. Sears’ Collection
Creative Play for your Toddler
Creative Play for your Baby
Dumbing Us Down
Living Simply with Children
Above All Be Kind
The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents


Children’s Books
The Apple Cake
Gerda Muller’s Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter books
Each Peach Pear Plum
It’s Time to Sleep
Goodnight Moon
Runaway Bunny
Peepo
The Old Turtle
The Night You Were Born

Websites

Music

Magazines

Blogs
Toys Etc

Just like the above list, this blog post is a constant work in progress and liable to change with the wind and the needs of our family.  I have tried to include Canadian resources as I know how frustrating it can be as a Canadian trying to sift through the overwhelming amounts of US resources.  Please feel free to share anything you have found inspiring or helpful on your journey!





go gently + be wonderful

e.
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14 Comments

  1. Posted August 11, 2011 at 11:08 am by smallTown | Permalink

    It was a little startling to read your post just now, when I just read your opening quote in the book Waking The Dead about half an hour ago. Odd timing!

  2. Posted August 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm by granolagirl | Permalink

    I love your honesty Erin! Thanks for sharing your homeschool ideas. We too share some of the same ideas. Our son will be five in December and we plan to start homeschooling him in September using Oak Meadows Kindergarten curriculum. I wanted to wait until he was older to start homeschooling but he insists and so we are going with the flow. I love Waldorf but I don't think we can be so called purists so the Oak Meadow Waldorf inspired curriculum is perfect for us. I also love the idea of unschooling and our homeschooling may definitely lead into that route as well in the future. We will see where it goes. I have taken a long blogging break but hope to start again in September to document our journey.

    Some frustrating things for me surrounding homeschooling is that we know of no other families doing the same thing. Also it is is difficult to find secular resources and materials. We are also Canadian (moving to BC in a few weeks from Alberta) and I haven't found alot of Canadian homrschool resources. Oak Meadow will be fine for the next few years but then we will have to supplement certain subjects that have US based information like history. We are excited about our choice to homeschool but it can be a little scary at times.

    I look forward to reading more about your homeschooling journey:) Your kiddos are adorable!

  3. Posted August 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm by Melissa Bothwell-Inglis | Permalink

    well look at you go – so much heart and soul put into your choices – I applaud you guys. I have a ton of people/friends around me that homeschool or plan to homeschool – I almost feel pressured that this is the ONLY choice… which seems ironic to me in this culture. Anywho, I still want to weigh out the pros and cons – as they fall on both sides for both issues.. and I think you present a fair perspective for yours – well done. P.s.. I still MUST have this Poppy portrait.. please make me a print.. I will BUY it off you.. and hug it and squeeze it, and love it for ever!
    xoxo
    Mel
    needle and nest

  4. Posted August 12, 2011 at 7:18 am by Bee | Permalink

    i really admire you and all the mothers who choose to homeschool. i think it's a wonderful thing. i was homeschooled myself through my last years of high school; though it was very freeing, i was also very, very lonely. but looking back i've realized that things weren't really set up for me in the way they should have been. i've chosen public school for my own son, at least for now. he has very few playmates and is shiny-bright, so i'd actually like to see how he does for a while. then if it isn't for him…we'll tackle that if it comes.
    your babes are truly adorable. <3

  5. Posted August 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm by Andrea Foster | Permalink

    So glad you're doing what's right for you and Mike and tailoring it for your kids' needs! Very brave. So crucial not to judge others' decisions too – we all need to make our lives suit our values and situations to be contented and fulfilled, eh?!

    Would love to visit your wee oasis on route to my mom's cottage near Wilberforce one of these days. We sometimes travel right through your new hood to get there. Drop me an email with details if that sounds good to you and we'll make a point of bringing you something from our hood!

    Waldorf has always sounds fab to – but so expensive, eh?! If we can afford it when the time comes I'd love to go that route.

    Enjoy xx

  6. Posted August 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm by Karen | Permalink

    Have you added Raffi to your music list? My girls loved him and now the grandkids are loving him.
    Blue Skies music festival was the August long weekend near Sharbot Lake. One of the most prominent artists was FRED PENNER. The young adults were crazy for him. I'm an old granny but will confess to being very fond of Elizabeth Mitchell. Don't think this modern music will ever push the die hard Folkie out of this old girl.

  7. Posted August 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm by Desiree Fawn | Permalink

    Loving this post — so much rings true to me, but you probably already know this <3

  8. Posted August 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm by Caren via Tea and Chickadees | Permalink

    You know my goddaughter Astrid & her family; how she & her brother have been homeschooled. What I've learned from their experiences is that it's truly Nature over Nurture. They both were allowed to become *themselves* – they are not their parents, they are not their peers. they became who they are, if that makes sense?
    Where their parents lacked in teaching something their children wanted to learn, they looked elsewhere to fill the void. I've never experienced homeschooling before meeting Astrid & Alek, and can only admire the dedication it takes by both the parents *and* the children to be "unschooled".
    I look back on my own childhood/teen years and realize I would have flourished in such an environment; the school system was a hazardous, creatively-numbing place for me.

  9. Posted August 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm by Caren via Tea and Chickadees | Permalink

    I also wanted to add something to my previous comment – that if a homeschooled child at some point wants to enter the school system, then that should be respected & the possibility looked at.
    I even know of some families that homeschooled for some years & then moved to the school system; that way their children had a solid base to enter the public school by. So many options in today's world! It's a beautiful thing.
    p.s. I would love to be a child in your home; the freedom to explore & create is endless!

  10. Posted August 16, 2011 at 9:15 am by kyndale_pease | Permalink

    I like your post here. I get a lot of funny looks from people when I say I homeschool. I think I especially offend teachers. "What, what we do in public school isn't good enough for you?!!" Oh goodness, the way I see it is that I'm a teacher too. I teach my children in my own way. I know my children better than any teacher in public school could.

    I do believe that schools can dumb down children and make them "all the same". It's just the nature of the beast. You get a system where all these kids are dumped into a classroom, force fed material by mostly left-brained people and you're going to kids that just learn how to regurgitate information adequately. I want my kids to love what they are learning. Some days they won't want to do math. I back off, maybe teach them in a different way. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be with and learn with my kids. It's wonderful.

  11. Posted August 17, 2011 at 7:51 am by Manda | Permalink

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciated this post. Our family had been dreaming of homeschooling forever, but for a whole list of reasons had agreed to send our oldest to kindergarten this year (after months of debate, research, tears, etc). As the 'first day' approached, I was getting physically ill thinking about sending her out into the world. I encountered your post and it re-ignited a dialogue about it all. Now, I'm so happy to say, we're homeschooling after all.

    It's a bit of a scramble to now come up with curriculum for her this close to September, but I did it for a college course I taught a few years ago so I'm sure I can do it for a kindergartener!! :)

    Anyway, thanks again.

  12. Posted August 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm by sunny smiles | Permalink

    Your photos are simply wonderful! Thanks for sharing the links also! :)

  13. Posted August 18, 2011 at 7:37 am by Fam | Permalink

    What a great post!

  14. Posted August 23, 2011 at 11:22 am by Mycelium Forest | Permalink

    Great post! Love the bullets and the resources at the end. Thanks!

    This past spring I read a homeschooling book where the writer touched on movies – like you, we also don't have cable, and often rely on shows/movies (very rarely but, yes, sometimes Disney) so that we can take a little break from the chaos and sweep up (our floors and our minds!) – anyway, the author mentions Beauty & the Beast and what that movie teaches to small children…a male 'beast' locking a female 'beauty' in a castle, away from her family, and she spends her life trying to 'change' him into the 'beau' she believes he can be. The message of this film actually sends shivers down my spine. I remember watching that film when I was younger and loving it…not thinking anything about it…and now that I sit back and reflect, it's an eerie subliminal conditioning that we're teaching our children.

    On another note, I really love the book "Peepo"…the drawings and simplicity of their life really pull me in.

    Sorry for the rambling! : )

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