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Homeschool Styles & Philosophies

Blog Homeschool Styles & Philosophies Popular COVID-19 Posts

Stop Trying to Homeschool and Start Unschooling

April 1, 2020

If you’re struggling to homeschool your kids or ‘quarantine-school’ your kids during the COVID-19 crisis, maybe it’s time you stop trying so hard and start unschooling.

What is Unschooling?

Unschooling is a form of homeschooling. It’s legal in the USA, and it’s a recognized approach in other countries, too–even in rule-loving France, from where I’m now writing during strict lockdown.

Unschooling is a form of learning that recognizes, respects, trusts, and encourages a child’s self-led interests and natural curiosity. While unschooling families are not all the same (some are seemingly more ‘radical’ than others, especially from the view of non-homeschoolers), it is generally understood that unschooling puts a child in the driver’s seat of his/her own education and learning experiences. To many, including my own family, unschooling is about so much more than academics, it’s a lifestyle. A lifestyle where learning never stops. Where everyone in the family is free to pursue their passions and discover at their own pace.

Unschooling allows children to follow their own interests and passions, sometimes to the point of exhaustion–I’m thinking about my own unschooler who would spend 24/7 programming and learning advanced coding if I didn’t periodically remind him to take a break to eat, shower, brush his teeth, and get sleep.

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Blog Homeschool Styles & Philosophies Popular COVID-19 Posts

The New Shut-In Economy: Where Side-by-Side Homeschooling and Work are the New Norm

March 19, 2020

Like most, I never imagined that it would take a crisis for homeschooling to become the in thing. I certainly never imagined that there would be a day when it would be the new norm for parents to work from home, coexisting with their children, and simultaneously homeschooling them during a typical work and school day.

But that day has arrived.

Over my 10+ years of homeschooling, many have asked (or I’ve heard or seen many conversations or online posts) whether it’s possible to work at home and homeschool at the same time–and if so, who out there actually pulls it off? Believe it or not, long before this global COVID-19 crisis and the emergence of this new shut-in economy, families, including single-parent families, have found ways to work-at-home and homeschool at the same time.

Perhaps the silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, depending on your perspective, is that it’s radically transforming life as we know it and this includes work-from-home and the concept of homeschooling. Who knows if life will ever return to the way it was before? The changes brought with this new normal of a shut-in economy, work-from-home, and homeschooling way of life may permanently revolutionize the way people around the globe view and do work, school, and pretty much everything for that matter.

Here to stay forever–or at least until the next major, unexpected life change, may be telework or work-from-home, homeschooling, where almost every class, course, or field of study is available at the tip of a child’s fingers, telemedicine, Amazon like home delivery services, and increased modernization of businesses and countries (and mindsets) that were reluctant to change.

As I write this from France during the crisis and lockdown, a country where homeschooling is legally allowed, but not warmly embraced (in fact, some report that it’s too often a difficult, hostile process, where families face government ‘controles’ and inspectors who check-in more often than mandated, grill children on their knowledge, and judge homeschooling efforts), where websites are often unreliable and difficult to conduct daily business, where work-from-home seems far from the norm or popular, and where Amazon-like home delivery services seem minimally developed, I can’t help but believe that this crisis will reshape, if not redefine, the way the country does business and educates its youth. I can’t help but believe that it reshape work from home and homeschooling.

I want to believe that it will reshape work from home and homeschooling and eliminate negativity around the two everywhere.

I have long hoped for a day when work-at-home and homeschooling could coexist. While I don’t expect that the two side-by-side will ever be truly a piece of cake to balance for the parents (or parent) who ultimately chooses this way of life, I do believe that the opportunity for parents who want to work from home and homeschool should be a viable option well after the crisis.

My smile was huge today when I took a walk (allowed for health under the mandatory lockdown in France) and saw a mom teaching her kids outside her house on a patio table.

Of course, the American in me, couldn’t resist yelling (yep, I kept my social distance) in my bad French, Bravo, Maman avec Ecole a la maison!!

Bravo to all parents in this new shut-in economy, learning one day at a time to balance work, school, life in the midst of crisis.

xx

Blog Homeschool Styles & Philosophies

How Cyndi Lauper’s 80s Hit Guides My Approach to Homeschooling, Unschooling & Motherhood

July 24, 2016

This year marks our family’s 8th year of homeschooling/unschooling. It’s sort of strange to think about, calculate, or even put down that time period in words since we ‘school’ year-round. Learning in our family doesn’t revolve around a calendar. It doesn’t take holidays or have snow days. Learning happens everyday.  It’s also strange to see the look on people’s faces when they ask what grades the kids are entering and the grades don’t easily roll off their tongues. The kids usually look at me, then at each other, before replying with something like, “we don’t keep track of our year in school because we are homeschooled and the grade doesn’t really matter or have meaning for us.”

There is No Magic Homeschool Formula

If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it is that there is no magic formula or ideal curriculum (or absence of curriculum) that will guarantee homeschooling success.  What is homeschooling success anyway?   Ivy League bound kids?  Academic scholarships?  Decent SAT scores?

I no longer spend much time worrying about homeschooling success–or what it is for that matter.  And, yes…in the beginning, especially in that first year, I worried about this a lot.  The more I’ve embraced unschooling over the years and let go of ideas and expectations of conventional schooling (and of myself and my kids), I’ve come to witness a love of learning within my children that I never experienced in school (even though I earned top grades and loved the experience of school itself).  I spend far less time now worrying whether my kids will turn out okay.

Instead, I spend my time focused on trying to raise children who are Wild and Free–children who are happy, well adjusted, balanced, self-reliant, and secure, who are passionate about learning, curious about the world around them, and appreciative of their roots, others, and experiences.  I spend my time helping my children fill their buckets with enriching and diverse experiences that will shape the way they see and interact with the world. I encourage my children to explore independently, guided by what satisfies their hearts, minds, curiosity, and interests, rather than stressing about what they are missing…what I’m not doing.  I focus on the positive and take the view that every opportunity, every moment, everyday is filled with learning possibilities.

My goal is not to see that my kids get top college admission test scores–though, if you ask them, they’ve carved out some pretty lofty goals of their own sans mama’s input.  Sure, I want them to have amazing academic successes, but what is more important to me is that they discover their True Colors…that they discover their own interests, goals, drive, and motivation to define their own successes on their own terms.

Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Guides My Approach to Homeschooling, Unschooling & Motherhood

If there is any secret to success out there, I believe it is encapsulated in Cyndi Lauper’s 80s Hit, Time After Time.  Apparently, if you grew up in the 80s listening to music tapes played in a tape player (my kids can’t believe I listened to music this way as a kid) or on the radio (that also shocks them, “Sirius XM didn’t exist when you were a kid, are you joking, Mom?”), 80s music can have such a long-lasting effect.

My homeschooling, unschooling & motherhood approach is summed up in this song lyric mantra:

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me

Time after time

If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting

Time after time

I believe the odds are significantly stacked in my favor–in any parent’s favor, really–for finding homeschool success, educational success, motherhood success, childhood success, you name it, whatever, by giving my kids space and freedom to be, to learn, explore, and live freely with loving support and encouragement.  If they get lost along the way, they can find me.  I’ll be there to help them find their direction, realign their bearings, to steer them back to where they think they want to go, or direct them back to where I believe they need to be if they can’t see it in the moment.  Time after time.

If they fall, I will catch them.  I will also do my best to role model how they can catch and trust themselves, as well as look to each other and to others to help them, should there be a reason that it’s impossible for me to be there for them.

I will be waiting.  Not expecting them to fall or fail in anyway, but should they need me, I will be waiting in the wings.

Time after time.

I want my children to discover their own true colors, so that they can best navigate the various shades that await them in life.

To me, that seems like homeschooling success.