Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Ivory

Last week, the spotlight was on Chance. This week, it's her sister's turn! Ivory is the mother of three precious girls.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

My kids are 5, 3, and 10 months. We are just starting on our homeschool journey, but we are lucky to have my sister, Chance, blazing the trail for us.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Informally we started homeschooling when Ella turned two and, without prompting, came to me and said "Look, I can write my name!" She's always loved to sit and devourer any knowledge we can feed her, so I've been following her lead ever since.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

This is such a large question, and one I've been trying to formalize lately in writing out our homeschooling goals.

I believe parent-led schooling has so many benefits, not the least of which being that education is not separate from family, charity and discipline, but a integral part of it. This idea that we send our children away for eight hours a day to be influenced by strangers, just so they can gain facts about the world and how they fit into it, has never set well with me. In the past, even twenty years ago when I was in elementary school, schools had the monopoly on education, because that was where the books, resources, and teachers were. Today, our children have access not only to the great wealth of knowledge of the internet, but there are also so many opportunities for the homeschooled child to attend music classes, museum events, physical education courses, and artistic events during the school day.

My area has not only a homeschool enrichment center (run by the school district, offering classes in everything from rock climbing, to flash animation, to Civil War reenactments), but also homeschool co-ops, run by educators who were disenchanted with the public school system. Homeschooling will give my children a freedom to explore their community, and their potential, that they would not otherwise have.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

At this point, with them being so small and porous, I guess you could say we are unschooling, though I do not see us following that path indefinitely. We have a handful of daily, weekly, and yearly goals we hope to achieve, but many are focused more on daily life skills than academics. We write letters to family, the kids help me cook (measuring and following directions), we take a lot of walks (they keep a nature journal where we talk about the seasons), listen to music (my husband is a classical music geek and will gladly discuss tempo and tone with them for hours) and do research on topics that catch their eyes (Ella, the oldest, is very into the periodic table
lately, which her sister Alice is more interested in sharks). What I think is important right now is to get them excited about all the possibilities, the grandness and wonder that is knowledge.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I have no idea. That is one of the freedoms of homeschooling though-- we change our course if things are not working.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

One of our main goals with homeschooling is to prepare our children for the real world, rather than ask them to conform to this idea that the "real world" is 8 hours in a desk, being asked to do mediocre work at the same pace as their peers. Our children are lucky enough to live in a community that has numerous opportunities for them to interact with people of all ages, cultures, beliefs and lifestyles, which is the type of socialization I value above the socialization offered in middle school lunchrooms.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I really do not know what our days will look like in a few years, with a 10, 8, and 5 year old (assuming we haven't had another baby by then...), and I am worried that I will find the limits of my patience, enthusiasm and creativity. I worry that I will need to go back to work. I worry that my own social unease will limit my children's opportunities in the community. I worry that my children will resent not getting to go "to school", and that they will struggle with their identity as homeschoolers. None of these worries outweighs my beliefs that, for my children, this is the best choice for now, but I worry that someday i will have to eat all of these words.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

A concise summary of Washington's homeschooling laws are here: