Saturday, December 1, 2012

De-Schooling an almost Teenager

I've seen this quote several places in the past and just this morning, blog reading over some coffee while the house is quiet of children sleeping and the sun is just coming up I ran across it again....

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." 
- Benjamin Franklin

I just love it. INVOLVE ME resonates in my soul exactly why our family homeschools and how we strive to live our life with our children.  They are not just the 'children',  they are part of the bigger picture, part of the family, right in the midst of life with us- cooking, fixing, reading, researching, decision making. 
There are so many reasons why we choose to homeschool. We homeschooled one year, the children went back to school last year due to financial difficulties and both myself and my husband having to work, and this year we are able to homeschool again throughout their school years from here on out.  We are very blessed for opportunities that came to us to be able to financially be stable as well as home school our children.  I recently have run across several other newer homeschooling families as well as family blogs that both are still at a difficult stage and de-schooling.  Our family is no different.  Our son has had no problem transitioning but our daughter, being 12yrs old and at a difficult transition age to a teenager in the first place has had a difficult time going from her charter/public school to home school.

This is our approach to de-schooling, hopefully it will help someone else to see the light at the end of the tunnel, re affirm that they are on the right path, and give them hope and support that they are not alone.  We started our 'year' kind of late, the first week of October. September was filled with our County Fair and Family visiting from out of town. So, technically we are only in our 3rd month.  We take the somewhat unschooling approach- we have structure school time but our learning is dictated by their interests then we incorporate all subjects in those interests, so we do not have a curriculum, we do not have workbooks, we do not have a list of what subject is at what time in our household. We believe in choice and life learning. 

Our daughter goes back and forth between- I love homeschooling and I want to go back to school.  Just a few days ago we again revisited 'I want to go back to school'.  These are the things I do: I listen- truly really hear her, acknowledge her, don't interrupt her, have the utmost patience and empathy for what she must be going through in this transition, ask questions and explore her feelings to dig deeper into what she is missing from 'school' and what she is 'needing' from home that she may not be getting, LOVE her, respect her, give her support, hug her.  

Each time we have re-visited her feelings, different things come up. The first time we talked a few months back, she missed the social aspect of school- she missed seeing friends, peers her age every day throughout the day.  With 4H starting back up in full swing, and us planning more get together's with friends and starting a gym class, that has helped with the social needs she was not getting met. This time we spoke, she advised she wants more structure and be 'assigned' exactly what she should learn- she stated she wanted to learn '7th grade' material only. So, off of her cue we have provided what she has asked for- we researched online 'what 7th graders learn' by subject- although us choosing what she learns is against what we want, it is what she wants- will it always be what she wants? Who knows.  Be willing to try new things, each child learns differently- just because you may want to do one curriculum or technique doesn't mean your child will learn best with that material or in that way- be flexible. If the parents make all the curriculum choices and force their children to 'do' the curriculum they choose instead of involving the input of the child or taking in account how the child learns, then how different is this than public schooling- why are they home?  I am not flexible in them going back to school. Although we involve our children in decision making, that decision is ultimately up to my husband and I- our daughter realizes she is going to be 'home schooled' and she also realizes in these 'bumps' along the way we have, that we can work through it together to explore her feelings and meet her needs.  

(In a follow up to her wanting to be assigned only '7th grade' material.  She decided she was not very interested in the book we assigned for American History and asked if she could choose what she wanted to study in History instead. OF COURSE! Was my answer! My husband and I do want HER to CHOOSE, to have a love for learning, to learn to pursue her interests- so even if we started the week 'assigning' we still ended the week having her realize on her own that she would like to choose for herself.)

Keep trying, keep talking, patience, love, understanding, try new things - you know your child, let them be who they are, encourage who they are and give them the space and time they need- you may go through a de-schooling period for a year I've read. I'm ready for the journey, with all of its 'bumps', know there are many others going through this de-schooling period as well.

Blessings to all the families who are on this wonderful journey- Homeschooling

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