We have been planning on homeschooling since our first child was in diapers. When there are so many alternative schools out there, why are we choosing to homeschool?
First, I need to clarify that we will be embarking on an unschooling/worldschooling/life learning journey (I'll refer to these educational pedagogies as just "unschooling" to make it easier to understand). I do not have a curriculum picked out. There are no tests (unless my child asks for them) and there are no "teachers" (aka authority figures dictating what should be learned and when). I will be a facilitator of my child's education and help them connect with resources to enrich their experience. I will also be a co-learner alongside them.
So what does unschooling officially mean? I'll let John Taylor Gatto explain it to you:
Unschooling is all about trusting my children's inherent drive to learn and make sense of their world. School is an invented method of educating children with varying degrees of freedom and trust in children's intrinsic motivation to learn. And for our family, institution schooling (even Waldorf, gasp!) is not the way we are choosing to educate our children right now. The unschooling way acknowledges that we are all self-directed learners, all the time. We are simply making it our primary mode of learning instead of institutionalized schooling.
These are the reasons why we personally are choosing to homeschool/unschool:
The number one reason we are choosing to homeschool is the freedom it provides. Unschooling allows our children to become educated in whichever way they want. If they want to obsess about turtles for the next 2 years, cool! If they want to study worksheets, cool! If they want to just go to the beach every day, cool! Our children have complete freedom to decide where/how/what/when they want to learn. They get to learn uninterrupted by arbitrary bells and schedules. They get to choose their playmates and who they want to be surrounded by on a daily basis.
This level of freedom allows them to be autonomous. This is a level of independence that schoolchildren (except for maybe those in Sudbury-type schools) do not get in school. This freedom will allow my children to dive into learning at their own pace. This is the ultimate customized learning experience.
This type of education allows our family to travel around the world, unencumbered. We don't need to ask a school for permission to travel, we can simply get up and go. The world is our curriculum. Instead of only reading about the world, we are out there exploring, experiencing, and being immersed in it.
Our children have unlimited freedom and time to dive into creative pursuits. They will not have to follow the teacher or learn what the teacher has decided is important. They can choose how they want to express themselves.
If you haven't seen Sir. Ken Robinson's classic TED talk on how schools kill creativity, take a look:
Many of us live in a fast-paced world and we believe that we must prepare our children for this competitive environment via the years of training that school provides. Our family has chosen a different path. We try to live at a slower pace, more in tune with nature, the seasons, and what feels good for our bodies. We don't value competition and getting to the "top" (whatever the top might be...). We find contentment in a more simple, slow life. Unschooling provides the freedom necessary to pursue a life that is more connected with nature, less hectic, and doesn't focus on competition/rewards/approval.
Our kids don't get grades, judged, or ranked. There is no stamp of approval when they get a math problem right or when they learn something new. Their learning comes from a place of intrinsic motivation and curiosity. There is no race, no one to beat, and no prize at the end.
More Time Together
We have been home with our kids since they were both born. Neither of them has had a babysitter (aside from grandma), nanny, or gone to an institution. We can't imagine sending our children off to school for 7 or 8 hours per day after being together for so long. Our oldest child is aware that other children go to school but she has expressed no interest in following their lead. She emphatically states that she'd rather be home with her family. More time together means more impromptu trips to the beach, more traveling adventures, and more snuggles in the middle of the day.
Are you planning on homeschooling? What are your reasons why? Let me know in the comments.