Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Jen

Next up is Jen, mother of two! She uses her kids' adorable nicknames in her answers.

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

Nugget is 3.5 years and Sprout is 10 months

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Since Nugget was born! We've been doing "official" school times since she turned 3, but she learns way more in daily life.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We want learning to flow naturally throughout our kids' lives. We want to maintain their curiosity. Young kids learn as easily as they breathe, but the restrictions that school places on what and when they learn can kill that. I firmly believe in the idea of "sensitive periods" -- times that a child is more receptive to learning (even driven to learn) a particular thing. With the flexibility of homeschooling, we can help our kids to remain attuned to that and can encourage and enable them in their interest.

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

We've "Montessori-inspired". We started out very traditionally Montessori (hence beginning at age 3, the start of the 3-6 year old Primary cycle). As we've gone along, we've found things that translate well from a Montessori classroom environment and things that don't. We've had to deal with the interruptions that a curious and mobile baby bring. :) So we have -- and continue to -- adapt our method to find what works for our family at each particular moment.

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?

We plan to homeschool through high school. I can't say that's what will happen; life's too fluid. But that's the assumption we're running on right now.

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

Traditional school is as far from the real world as you can possibly get. A large group of children of the same age, sequestered in one room and lead by a single adult, all taught the same thing at the same pace. School prepares you for school, nothing else.

Even at 3 years old, my daughter attends homeschool groups that allow her to interact with kids of varying ages. She takes classes or attends gatherings where she takes direction from different adults. She spends her day asking questions about the "real world" (At the grocery store: Why are some things in cans? At the post office: Where do the letters go?) and learning how to maneuver through it (how to pay for something, how to read a map, how to ask for help). My daughter can let her interests drive what we study. She can spend little time on something if she picks it up quickly, or keep working on something that's more difficult until she masters it. That's the "real world" I've lived in since I left school.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

My biggest worry is balancing family life and learning time. Of course, going to school would take away even more from family time!

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)

All we have to do (when the kids are 5 or 6) is tell the state we're homeschooling and have a yearly meeting with an advisor who looks over our work for the year. Many advisors homeschool their own kids, so it's a pretty relaxed thing. If you don't even want to do that, you can join an umbrella school, some of which don't require anything but telling them how many days a year you did school work.

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