I'm sharing the common stages that a homeschool mom might go through as she observes and learns with her children over the years. I know I've gone from setting up a school in my home to declaring that my home was not a school. It's kinda poking fun at me:
Setting up a school in the home:
You learned from a desk and proved your learning with silent obedience, tests, grades, and report cards, for more than 10 years of your life. You "paid your dues" and "did your time." It's the way it has always been done! That's WHY!
You purchase traditional educational materials and even manage to find a used school desk, a flag, and chalk board, and with these items you set up a schoolroom in your home. "This is where learning will take place!" It looks like a classroom so it feels legit.
You fear you are not doing enough:
You try hard to make school last all day by adding recess and a two-hour lunch break because you realize that "schooling" only takes an hour most days. You keep this little secret to yourself because you don't know who might accuse you of "not doing enough." You fear you "aren't doing enough" and this is terrifying because children shouldn't have this much free time! "My god, what will the neighbors think if they see my child doing P.E. for five hours a day?"
Something is wrong because it's too easy:
You keep up with the grading and the report cards because it makes grandma happy and you do like to decorate your refrigerator. However, your child is making all As which seems suspicious. Your "no pass no play" mentality has been replaced with a "no master the concept no turn the page" mentality. You have an intuition or a sense of when and why your child doesn't grasp something so you don't move on or give the test until you know everything has been mastered.
Learning gets in the way of education:
Instead of learning about how many stars the American flag has your child decides to collect bugs. This is "entomology," after all, so you do some research and supplement "school" with identification of local insects and coloring pages that require labeling "head" "thorax" "abdomen." Your child tells you a story about his cricket which you transcribe and make into a little book that he illustrates. You get nervous because he would rather learn about bugs than how many days are in a year.
He plays with bugs for most of the mornings and hates to be bothered with "school." In some ways you are impressed with the attention span of a child because it doesn't seem to exist once his butt touches the desk. You have a feeling that attention span is important so you let the child have more time to explore his curiosities.
You want your home to be a home and not a school:
You realize that your child is learning more when school-books are put away! Not only that but he forgets answers to the old tests that he's passed so it dawns on you that not only is grading silly in the home but so are tests and report cards. Test grades are only a snap shot of what that child knew right then and there. The child will forget or learn more, so what is a grade except to fill an institutional requirement? "This is a home and not an institution."
Keeping up the facade:
The secret is that though your child is busy with "autonomous learning" you have abandoned many of the vestiges of institutionalized education. This is a secret that you keep because you know that back in the "setting up a school in the home" stage you would have frowned upon this type of homeschooling. You wouldn't have believed it if you didn't live it yourself!
Texts are replaced with good books and educational software. Language Arts becomes "writing for fun," math doesn't change much because the child loves it and claims he wants to be just like his uncle who is working on his Masters and drives a fancy sports car.
Though you aren't keeping grades, you feel your child is gifted but many of your homeschool mentors around the world share, "It's just what happens to children when they are allowed to pursue their interests - they become gifted!" You cling to these mentors and even join a few "unschooling" groups. You hear rumors that you are a "rebel homeschooler" and you embrace such compliments.
Back to setting up a school in your home:
Your child reaches high school age and you can't stand it any more! You purchase text books and do everything by the book... Well, not everything, you have learned to combine subjects, count independent research and reading, and to include field trips and vacations AS school... You learn how to translate non-traditional learning into a language that an institution could understand.
Teen Majors in SLEEP:
Your teen's head won't detach from his pillow before noon. Your homeschool mentors, one who was a student of Erikson, claims this is normal and that teens need extra sleep and they need to sleep well into the morning. So school starts late in the afternoon! After all, you hated "morning classes" in college.
Whoa, I could go on but look at the time! It's almost time for teen to wake up.
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