What do you think of when you hear the word
A few years ago, I would have pictured… a desk for a child to sit behind. A blackboard for the teacher to write on. A space between the teacher and the child. The teacher standing before the class, or sitting on a chair with the children in an obedient semi-circle at his or her feet. I would have imagined learners listening and a teacher speaking. I would have imagined it as I lived it, because that was all I knew.
When we began homeschooling, I got a white board. A big, beautiful one where I wrote the day's plan. I also bought a lot of workbooks. Books for spelling, comprehension, maths, history. I pored over curriculum, lesson plans, education outcomes. I searched to find something to hold onto, some recognisable and sturdy structure to build in a land that was completely new to me. This new land had a horizon too far away to see, signposts I didn't know the language to read, roads that twisted and rearranged themselves as I walked. I remember a day when I bamboozled myself—by reading so many ideas on what to do and how to do it that I had to take myself to bed.
I tried a daily structure, and dismantled it. I tried rebuilding different structures, but they fell at my feet, or the children stepped out of them. I tried schedules and textbooks and plans and packaged curriculum. I relaxed and had no structure. Then panicked. I lost my way, found it, lost it. The new world sometimes seemed just too large. There were days I doubted myself. I worried that the children would be behind, or not learning what they needed. I worried that somehow, in some way, I was making terrible, unfixable, mistakes. I wept. Sometimes, I would rant. Sometimes I did all of this in a single day.
But a lot of days, in fact almost all of our days, were actually magic.
Those days, when I let go of the worry and the doubt and the expectation and…just watched my kids and listened to them and said yes to their ideas and we walked and talked and read and explored and created and… we went to the library and to the beach and the art gallery and…sat in our pyjamas all day reading or writing our novels or playing games and music and…we went to hang out with friends,
those days were (and are) unbelievably amazing.
They are why we've homeschooled this long.
Three years! It feels long, and it feels…
like a blink.
And just recently,
I had myself a little epiphany.
It suddenly hit me, finally—big and wild and hard in the gut—that
our homeschool never has to look like school.
Not in any way. Not even remotely. I really, truly, can let it go. The teacher teaching, directing, deciding everything. The child listening, passively. "School"—this enormous, impossible entity—didn't need to be here. Not the structure, the look, the feel, those books, the invisible wires that were my idea of "School" holding me still … none of it needed to be in our home.
Then I looked around, and saw
we'd actually already been living my epiphany. For years, we have been loosening the wires, stepping away and forward.
But I don't think I'd realised.
After my epiphany
I could see clearly
that our homeschool is already our special, particular, walk of invention.
Instead of accepting a land already made, we have made our own. We found roads that turned corners we liked then built new roads that branched away; we entered buildings that were interesting (but we didn't always stay inside). We have written our own street signs, made our own rising towers and glorious bridges, and we have strung the streets bright with lanterns. We found fields to run in and silken beaches and we painted the world in technicolour. We have sung and written and drawn and dreamed our own school into being and as we have, the word "school" has grown fainter and fainter…until with the slightest, quietest, 'pop!' it has disappeared. We have made our land a land of learning, made it so it fits us, built it so we grow finer and greater, every single day.
It's so beautiful here. Not always perfect. But it's ours.
A daughter on the couch, looking at Science For Kids on the iPad. A boy lying on another couch, writing page after page of his story. A girl lying in her bed with the computer, designing her website. A boy discussing the existence of oak trees ("if you have a 700-year-old tree that has a new, week-old branch, can the tree really be said to be 700 years old?"). A girl writing about bald eagles at the dining table for her blog. A boy juggling and juggling, inspired by numerous TED talks and his circus class. A girl lying in the big bed with her mum, discussing long division and playing book stores and making up change. A boy playing Words With Friends with his mum (and beating her! She will have to lift her game.) A girl drawing cartoon cats and reading books on animation. A boy poring over Greek history. A girl reading every Warriors book under the sun. A boy and a girl and a mum, walking on the beach almost every day the sun is out.
A boy. A girl. A mum. A dad. Thinking, dreaming, creating. Talking, all the time. Playing in the land we made. The land we made.
It is so beautiful here.
linking up with the lovely Owlet's