So, here Sarah and I were… We knew we didn’t want to send Elijah into a school system, but we really hadn’t given much thought to other choices until now. It had always been our plan to follow the societal “norms”. Our kids would go to school as we did, and we would continue to work in our respected fields for which we had obtained degrees in. So what now?
I have to out myself and say that when the idea of “homeschooling” was first mentioned by Sarah as what she’d like for us to consider I was adamently opposed for a number of reasons. My first thought was that homeschooled kids struck me as weird. I don’t know what my basis was for this, but I imagine other people who do not research homeschooling often think as homeschooled kids as being reclusive and non worldy because….gasp…they didn’t go to a school where the masses went. Secondly, if we went down that path, it implied one of us would have to be home doing the “schooling” and how was that going to work? I was working full time on weekdays, and Sarah was still working 24-30 hours a week as an RN at night, while watching Elijah during the day (on no rest). Something would have to give, and we certainly couldn’t afford to do this financially…could we?
We decided to first figure out (finances aside) if we really wanted or even had the ability to homeschool and we needed to seek out more information. Sarah found that there was a really small homeschooling seminar that was being held for free about an hour away from where we lived at the time, so we set our sights on that to see what this was all about. At this session, they had a panel in which there were different parents explaining their styles of homeschooling and how a typical day/week went for their kids.
So what styles did we see at this? First up was the very rigid homeschooling mom who had a daily schedule for everything from what time the kids had to wake up, eat their breakfast, and do their work on a multitude of subjects. Actually made public schooling look pretty laid back. Pass on option one… Didn’t feel right and Sarah and I both felt it as we listened to this lady describe this homeschooling prison. Already discouraged, we listened to the second mom talk about their style. The second style was similar to the first (although maybe not as rigid in schedule) but it was loaded with religious overtones, which actually made up the basis for why this family chose to homeschool at all. Again, this wasn’t for us… and now I was beginning to think this day might have been a waste of our time. One more to go on the panel, and I couldn’t possibly imagine what they were going to offer up. To our surprise, this is where we both had the same kind of “ah ha” moment. This next mom went into detail about how here son’s days varied from one to the next and week to week. He was learning by spending much of his time outdoors exploring, building things, researching things on his own ranging from scientific experiments to building gadgets. Her son did not do workbooks, although he was certainly free to do them if he chose, but rather followed his passions and they seeked out the information they needed to accomodate whatever he was interested in at that time.
Sarah and I had the same feeling while listening to this mother talk about what her son did to learn. I can’t explain why, but even though we would have never (not in a million years) ever thought to consider something like this, we had the same feeling that this might just be what we want to do. Neither of us could explain it immediately after, we just knew in our hearts that when she described it, it made sense period. The session followed with questions from the crowd in which they were asked about how to make sure your kid is keeping up and learning, how they can get into college, etc. All legitimate questions and ones we had ourselves. I’ll admit that I don’t have these same concerns now and I actually don’t find those things to be all that important, but at the time it certainly was something I wanted to hear more about. As it turned out, the unschooled child had actually already been taking college courses at a community college and that a lot of colleges have special admittance programs for homeschooled/unschooled kids.
We walked out of there that day with a vision and something to focus on for how we were going to approach our schooling needs for Elijah. It was going to take plenty of research and information seeking on our part, but we knew this was our first step, and a step in the right direction for finding our way to educating our child in a way that made sense to us.
(to be continued)