Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm Screwing Up My Kids by Homeschooling

The other week I gave up on homeschooling for 15 minutes. I had a day of frustration in which nothing I introduced them to was sinking in, they did not seem interested at all in my perfectly laid out "this-is-what-I- want-you-to-learn-today-and-this-is-why-you-will-think-it-is-fun-and- therefore-retain-it-all-so-that-in-the afternoon-when-I-ask-you-about-it you-will-re-affirm-my-excellent-teaching-skills" lesson plan. That afternoon when my teaching ego had imploded with lack of impact, I had 15 minutes of "who do I think I am trying to teach my kids? I'm totally going to screw them up, I'm missing something important I know it. They'll have access to so much more in an institution than here." I broke down into tears telling my partner that next year I might put them into school. He calmed me down, he told me I needed more support. He told me that every teacher has bad days where they think they are not doing well enough (or I told him that as he held me and coaxed me on, that's the thing about good listeners you never know where the great advise came from). Either way, I went on the Internet the next day looking for curriculum to help me in my struggle. The Montessori was mostly from 3-6 which I would only need the tail end of. Waldorf had a great art and imagination-based math. However I was not a fan of the use of violent fairy tales in their reading curriculum. For some reason I was feeling that we needed this structure:

I teach, they listen. This is how children learn.

Being in discussions with friends who are institutional teachers, there has always been an emphasis by them on curriculum, grade level and testing. All things that are necessary within the public school system. I began to see a need for these things. I began to base my idea of learning success on the very system that I didn't believe was suitable for my daughter in the first place. How had I fallen into this trap?

I had a play date with another homeschooling mother soon after my little break-down. We were discussing how being within the community is a great place for children to learn and how it was the way children were educated in the first place. Then it dawned on me, why do we call the process of educating our children at home "homeschooling"? As if large teaching institutions (schools) always existed as the normal way to educate our children and in keeping our children with us we are in fact trying to bring this institution into our homes. Where as what we are doing is taking "schools" out of the picture and allowing our children to educate themselves via experience in the world they are inheriting. It seemed so backwards to me. Recently my 5 yrold has been telling people she's home schooled when they ask what school she goes to. Perhaps it would be a more accurate description for her to say "I don't go to school." and leave it at that.