Sunday, March 29, 2009

My new role

When I was teaching public school my role as educator was very clearly defined. There was a curriculum that must be followed, limited resources with which to teach that curriculum, we were confined to the classroom for the most part and it was important that we didn't disturb the other classes. I tried to be creative and come up with activities that would be fun and challenging for the kids but there was very little freedom. Then we started homeschooling; I could do WHATEVER I wanted. ;)

In the beginning it was difficult for me to take off my teacher hat so we all spent some time deschooling- something that I realized we really needed when Jace was asking permission to use the bathroom in his own home. So, after a period of deschooling we settled into some relaxed, predominantly child-led, homeschooling. My role was still to be the teacher, the keeper of the knowledge so to speak. I would discuss with the kids what they wanted to learn then I would find resources to bring that information to them. I bookmarked websites, organized activities, checked books out from the library, and planned field trips. This new way was definately an improvement but it still somehow felt lacking. Then I read about unschooling; the KIDS could do whatever THEY wanted!

Now I am not the keeper of knowledge, I view myself more as a facilitator than a teacher. I no longer ask the kids what they want to learn, they are always learning. My responsibility is to ensure a stimulating environment. I still do some of the same things but in new ways. For example I take the kids to the library and make suggestions for books related to things in which they've expressed an interest but the choosing of books is entirely up to the kids. I still like to go to interesting places and have new experiences with the kids but now those trips aren't necessarily part of a "lesson plan." If the kids ask to visit a place related to an interest we do that of course but other times the trip itself will spark the interest. We have list of places we think are interesting and they are sorted by distance from our house; if we wake up and think it would be a good day for an outing we have a list at our fingertips from which to choose. I make suggestions but I have taken a big step back and follow the kids lead. I feel like we are all learning so much.


Mrs. Sederwall said...

This was so interesting to read, Hope. I was curious what you had been up to since h.s. graduation. I knew you were a teacher, but did not realize you were homeschooling now. I have also pondered homeschooling with Hunter, especially now that he is entering pre-school this next year, but my biggest fear would be taht I didn't cover all the basics or I couldn't teach the "hard" stuff properly and he wouldn't be prepared for higher learning like college. Do you ever worry about that? I think it is great for any parent who wants to homeschool, what a wonderful way to bond closer to your child and learn your child more-so than a parent who works outside of the home. Good luck!

Hope said...

Hi Wendy!

I love homeschooling, we are having a blast. At first I was very worried about missing something but I have relaxed a lot. I started to realize that the information the kids retained were the things that they either used on a regular basis or were very interested in. I also realized that in school I was constantly reteaching kids things they had learned in younger grades. We have so much time to learn and it really doesn't take that long when you are working one on one with them so even if we miss something we can always do it later- its not like school where you can't back up becasue you have other kids to focus on as well.

I do keep a list of the math GLE's and I used to use it to make plans, now that I've relaxed I use it to see if we've made progress. If we haven't I try to think of a fun project we can do to learn that or an everyday activity I think they will enjoy. If it doesn't fit into a fun activity or a real life, age appropriate application then I think they can always learn it later, kwim? That's the great thing about homeschooling, they learn things at a time that makes sense in their lives instead of an arbitrary schedule and they remember so much more.

It has been great for us and even though I was scared at first I can't imagine it any other way now. :)