I had such fear about bringing my children home to home school them. It felt like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. But I landed exactly where I had always been, at home surrounded by my children, just without school. There has been a lot of self doubt since then, of the 'am I doing enough, are they learning enough' variety. Then I look back on the natural learning diary I am keeping, or scroll through the home school album I update on facebook, and I see tangible evidence of the learning that I feel is happening each day.
Even now when the self doubt creeps in again and I find myself asking, 'but how will they learn all they need to know without a curriculum'! Then their actions remind me that they are creating their own curriculum by following their interests and passions as they live in the world. It comes down to trusting that children are naturally curious about all that is around them, and that they learn best when they are interested in the topic. That they have time, love and adults modeling a joy of lifelong learning. These are a few examples that I've noticed lately for those who are interested. Just by living in the world and loving books we have naturally learnt about science, maths, history, geography, art and so much more.
We startled a gecko as I lifted the lid off the compost bin in the garden. It dropped it's tail and made a run for it. I showed my daughter that the lizard was ok and explained that they did this to protect themselves from predators. She marvelled at the way it kept wiggling, so we took it inside to show her brothers. They were equally fascinated by this discovery, so we searched YouTube and watched several videos about this phenomena. Cohen asked how long it would take for a tail to grow back. We found the answer at the end of a time lapse video of another lizard growing it's tail back. 65 days.
My son asked to bake a chocolate cake mix. He made his selection at the shops and read the ingredients so that we could check that we had all that we needed. He wanted to use 'real butter', so I asked him how much he would need. The packet called for 80 grams for the cake mix and 50 grams for the icing. I asked him how much butter we would need to buy? 130 grams he replied, then told me that he had worked it out by taking 50 away from 80 and getting 30, adding the two 100's together and then adding the 30.
I read the children a beautiful junior fiction book about Charles Darwin and they listened intently, asked questions and later when they were drawing Cohen drew a ship and called it the HMS Beagle. I suggested we watch a YouTube clip about him and they said 'No! He is boring!' However, later in the week I read them a junior fiction book about Captain Cook. We studied the map, they discussed Darwin, exploration, maps, astronomy, botany etc. Cohen went to his room and retrieved a framed print of Australian animals, showing his sister that Cook would never have seen any of these animals before. Once we finished reading it was bed time, but they begged to know more about Cook and how he had died. The next day we started a new book about Convict Children, which included reference to Captain Cook, which they were really excited about. They told me all the facts that they had learnt the night before. They showed a lot of interest in Joseph Banks the botanist too, so I have borrowed several more books from the library with Bank's journals, prints of his work and a history of Cooks expeditions so that they can find their answers about his death.
I found a book at the library about a Surrealist exhibition I once visited at the Qld Art Gallery. The children and I studied it together and undertook several of the projects in the book while I read to them about the different artists in the movement. They played games of 'exquisite corpse', made collage from the photocopied back pages of the book and drew into ink blots to create their own surrealist artwork. A week or so later when my daughter was having a play date, her friend admired their surrealist artwork on our gallery wall, and before long they were both making more collages and playing exquisite corpse. In the past five months the children have also completed artist studies on Da Vinci, Van Gogh, and Matisse.
Are they learning? Absolutely!
Will I keep doubting myself in future? Probably!
Would I give up the time, connection and joy of homeschooling? No thank you!