Pictures from the hands-on 'Ocean Explorers' event at the Logan library

My concepts of homeschooling having really 'clicked' in the last couple of week. I had heard that the first year of homeschooling is mainly trial and error. That your time should be spent getting to know the ways your children learn, what they are interested in and finding ways to meet their needs. I read not to spend a lot of money on curriculums and distance education, because what YOU want may not be what actually works for them. But, in my exuberance to begin, and having read about homeschooling for years and listened to months worth of podcasts, I felt quite sure of myself and the direction we would be taking. How different 'knowing' and 'doing' are!

We are still so new to homeschooling, having only left traditional school behind in early November, gently finding our way as the months unfold. Trying a few different approaches to see what works and where my children resist the structure I myself needed to feel confident that they were learning. Even before they left school we experimented with the Charlotte Mason method, then looked into Classical education, before turing to the Australian curriclum, only to have my children push back against the structure of such learning. Until, finally, I felt at ease to embrace an unschooling path.

Being raised in a family that revers academic achievement, it was difficult at first to question my understanding of schooling. Was the curriculm the bible of education, or an arbitary collection of knowledge that may or may not help my children achieve their goals? Was a one size fits all approach to learning what I hoped to achieve by homeschooling? Did it matter if my children learnt about Burke and Wills at age 9, age 12, or not at all? Would they need algebra in the real world? And if they did, could they not just learn it when they needed it? Would they be disadvantaged? When I studied gold and silversmithing we were asked to use pi to calculate the circuference of a ring. Despite everyone in the course having attended highshool, most needed to relearn how to use pi to find the circumference of a circle. And they did so because they wanted to.

There are just SO many things in this amazing world that one could learn about. Would not following the standard curriculum leave them with 'gaps' in their education? Or, would they have a more rounded education by following their own paths and interests and diving more fully into subjects that they desired to learn about? Could I trust in their natural curiosity about the world that they would literally write their own curriculm? That by giving them time to find themselves and pursue their interest they would actually flourish? The last few months have shown me that yes, I can trust in them. I can trust that they desire to learn about that which interests them, and the whole world interests them. That by providing them with experiences, sharing the world with them, their natural curioisty will cause them to learn with interest and retain the information. That learning about pronouns and adjectives isn't as important as reading and comprehending a text, and being able to apply critical thinking. That creativity and happiness are worthy pursuits.

This to me is deschooling, Questioning the model I have accepted as normal and understanding that their are other valid ways to learn. Understanding that they will naturally cover much of the curriculm without sitting down with text books and worksheets. My son's love of science and my daughter's love of animals naturally ticks so many of the curriculum boxes, yet there is no authoritarian power struggle, no forced learning, no testing or punishment. Just a world of possible learning opportunities.

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