The right way to homeschool doesn’t exist in that there is no, one, definitive right way. You can consider yourself a homeschooler, unschooler, worldschooler or home educator and I’ll bet you won’t find another family doing it the same way as you. This week we’ve been staying with and visiting 3 other homeschooling families, in Wales, England and Romania. They’re all very different and all do it right in their own ways.
On top of these three we know families who homeschool on a yacht, in Ireland as housesitters, in Thailand or in remote villages. Homeschooling or unschooling comes in many flavours.
What is the Right Way to Homeschool?
Happy, healthy, thriving kids with a natural inclination to learn. That’s all we’re aiming for isn’t it? Some will be aiming for excellence in a particular area, be that future academic results, a sporting career or creative outlet. Others will just be allowing their children to enjoy being kids free from outside pressures and threats. Some families will have religious leanings, but none of these 3 families, nor we, are in that group.
Family 1 Had problems with bullying, from children and teachers. These children were unhappy in school so mum brought them home to have their physical and mental freedom in a secure environment. Theirs is a household full of animals, crafts, cooking, interesting people and, of course, Minecraft. Home education here looks very eclectic, with relaxed use of online learning programmes and homeschool workbooks alongside typical homeschoolers’ films, books and videos.
Family 2 Have more Lego than the average Lego shop. Honestly, you never saw so much! Shelves overflow with books and creative games with which the children play freely. This family does not push written work or reading on the children at all, they’re waiting for them to be ready and both parents spend a lot of time nurturing and exposing these kids to the written word. I’ve known them a long time and I can see how it’s working. The big screen TV in this house is used for high-brow documentaries and, of course, there is Minecraft and Pokemon Go. This family employs local sports groups and clubs to keep the kids interacting with the community because they live in an area with an abundance of such things. To me they are full-on unschoolers, but I’ve never heard them use that word.
Family 3 Their kids are grown and their younger daughter graduated university with an engineering degree this month. They travelled the world with 3 young children, sometimes employing volunteers to act as stand in educators because mum and dad had a massive building project to keep them busy. The kids helped with these builds too and with all the tasks of setting up businesses in far off lands including picking up a couple of lesser-known languages. That’s what I call a well-rounded education.
Then There’s Us This week an outsider could think we’ve done nothing. We certainly haven’t cracked open a workbook or struggled over maths. We use online resources and workbooks sometimes, but not at the moment, we’ve been too busy. In the last week we’ve visited 9 countries. Incredible isn’t it! Short stays admittedly, but glimpses to open the boys’ minds. We’ve spent time with all the above people plus another regular-schooling family.
This family sends their daughter to school and for them, that’s absolutely the right way to educate too. I’m not anti school, the method of education has to fit the child and the family. I do feel terribly sorry for some though as they shuffle off hating their loss of freedom. I remember how that felt. That doesn’t make me anti school, it makes me pro child. All of these fantastic children came together and had fun and what made them connect every time, was Minecraft and Pokemon. This is their generation, not ours. Don’t condemn their interests. I’m sure you don’t, but some don’t understand that the world has changed since they were young.
So where has the learning been happening for us this week?
I can’t document everything, but here are some glimpses of what we’ve learned this week on top of the excellent opportunities we’ve had to spend extended time with other families each with interesting stories, unusual ways of making a living and different backgrounds. A full post on the educational opportunities we found in Wales, London and half of Europe, may come later.
The boys got to hang out with and visit the workshops of a very creative couple and their daughter. Chris and Emma of Wood Art Works make incredible things from Chris’s mammoth chainsaw sculptures to puppets, benches, hydraulic creations and paintings. The boys got to see how it’s done, learned a little about tools and types of wood and got to see more of what is possible in art and less mainstream ways of making a living.
Other than visiting and experiencing 9 countries ( and talking about the unavoidable refugee crisis), we created a new car game, Think of a Place. Like our old favourite, Think of an Animal ( which teaches zoological classification) Think of a Place starts with player one stating ” I’m thinking of a place beginning with….B. ” The other players then take it in turns to ask yes/ no questions.
“Is it in the Northern Hemisphere?”
“Does it have a tropical climate?”
“Is it in the continent of Asia?”
“Is it a city?”
“Is it a landmark?”
“Is it man-made?”
You see how it goes? Playing games like this drives knowledge into small minds faster than quicksilver as they compete to win.
It may sound silly but mum had a science freak out and just had to check that they know their stuff. We spent time in the car talking about the circulatory system, how oxygen gets from the air to cells, what is breathing, gaseous exchange in plants, photosynthesis and so on. They’re cool, they’ve got it. My 12-year-old more so than my 10-year-old but talking about it all together brings the 10-year-old up a notch. A lot of adults don’t get this stuff, I was looking at a worksheet collection on Pinterest last week on ” How Plants Breath”. NO NO NO, they don’t breath, so wrong!
How long until we get to Bonn if it’s 52 Km away and we’re travelling at 110 Km per hour? There was that, frequently, as the cries of “Are we nearly there?” flowed across Europe. It’s good practice.
I recently downloaded a whole bunch of free books to their Kindles. All the old classics, Moby Dick, Oliver Twist, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, The Wind in the Willows. Did they read them in the car? Not yet. But they did read The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas and a new series of Warrior Cats books.
This is just a snapshot of how it goes. There is more of course. How is your homeschooling week going?
This week we’ll be getting the books out again as we have a few empty, travel-free weeks. The education fits with us, not the other way round.
For You For Pinterest
The picture is of Budapest, Hungary. What a beautiful city!
Naomi Buck says
“Have more Lego than the average Lego shop.” This is what I worry will happen to my own house! Maybe its a blessing, maybe its a curse. Maybe my financial issues will never allow it to happen ;-D
Alyson Long says
It’s a tricky one for us Naomi, our possessions have to be transient, we can’t store or hoard items, so everything we buy has an expiry date. We use it, then pass it on. We can’t get attached, which is hard for one of my kids, which is why we’re always hefting bags of toys around with us!