It’s a beautiful cold sunny morning and the boy is out playing football. He gets himself up every morning, gets dressed and immediately gets going on whatever project or activity he wants to accomplish. It could be a new leaflet for his business ‘Animal Issues’ or learning new moves for his chess game so he can beat my husband. At the moment he has revived his interest in football and is out practising.
At around 9.30 he’ll put on some waterproof clothes and head out to Forest school – a morning class in the woods lead by a bushcraft teacher where they do things like filter muddy water to make it drinkable, whittle pencils from sticks, climb trees and enjoy being outside in the elements. This afternoon we’ll meet up in a beautiful area of nature with a group of other homeschooling families for an afternoon of play and chat.
When we told the boy he was going to be homeschooled he said ‘Will we have golden time?’ and I said ‘What’s golden time?’ and he replied ‘Oh, you’ll see’.
Many people think, as the boy did, that homeschooling is a like a miniaturised version of what we see in a school – a little blackboard and perhaps one solitary desk in front- when in fact it couldn’t be more different.
Every day is different, history and science at a little homeschool cooperative, climbing and drama classes with other homeschoolers. We run a little cooking club at our home on Monday afternoons and he learns Italian with his own teaching program.
But what is the same is that the boy has created the schedule himself – he decided he wanted to attend some classes ‘a bit like school but not’, he chose which classes he wanted to attend, he has insisted we do cooking club every week and he has decided he wants to do more maths, but that I teach him that not a ‘proper teacher’.
Everyone homeschools differently – some do everything at home, some are super structured, some do no structured learning at all, preferring to ‘unschool’. We are following the principal of ‘interest-lead learning’, which basically means we follow and support whatever the boy wants to learn.
At night my husband and he have been reading books about the second world war and I often have to interrupt them and tell them to go to bed. It’s beautiful to hear the boy asking questions – and also that they are learning together. Homeschooling isn’t just you imparting knowledge to your child, but both of you discovering the world and its amazing qualities together.
I truly believe you can only properly learn something if you are interested and willing. And I believe that all children are natural, voracious learners. For many years Why seems to be their favourite word. Left to his own devises I’ve seen the boy regain that childish wonder and curiosity that seemed to be evaporating when he was at school. Now he pushes us to learn more, not the other way round.