Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Kind of Home Educators Are We?

When asking myself the question, "What kind of home educators are we?" I find myself in pit of confusion. I mean I know what works for us, however, I have never found a label for it and over the years I find there are more like us that are not. I find it truly hard to pigeon-hole educators into a single slot – Charlotte Mason, Classical, Waldorf, and Montessori or are you unschoolers or traditional text book users? We each are simply a collection of what inspires us to do our best and be our best for our children. When you first begin you try this and know it will work – right? Then you realize that maybe it's not the right fit for your child or children and you try another avenue because you are seeing that all things don't fit every child or even your own style of understanding. Over time you collect, use, discard and keep what works, thus your educational methods become a composite of various types blended together. Also there is that living life factor that truly gives shape to the true value of your children's education – dare I say it – true education isn't about papers, pencils and books – but you knew that, right? But to be honest this was an important fact that came with the years for me I didn't start out that way. It was a fact I learned by watching my boys and seeing how each of them learned and retained information the best.

One child liked Classical methods and buried himself in Greeks and Romans when he was young and now he is a true just give me the facts kind of guy. Another flourished with unschooling methods and is a genius with building and mechanical things and his ability to look at a simple machine and see what is out of place is amazing. He is also our family advocate for anything rebuild, recycle and be "Green." The youngest is a true Charlotte Mason child. He loves to be read to, draws & paints pictures of animals and plants. He has love for nature that is unending – not matter how creepy. Then there is the thread that weaves this all together for us as a family Waldorf.

It is through Waldorf that I learned to create a rhythm for our year, months, weeks and days. A true rhythm for life. It seemed to take all the loose ends over the years and weave them into a beautiful blanket that covers us with love, peace, hope and happiness. It has given us a pace of moving through our days that that lets us breathe – there is no more hurry scurry, got to get this and that done that drew us to tears in the past. It has simplified and brought true mindfulness to our lives. Each child, although their interests are varied and each learn in a different manner also learn from each other so there is a little extra thing going on every day to enrich their knowledge of the world around them. We try to live, eat, and celebrate by the seasons which has turned out to be great fun and learning experience all in itself.

If you are using the wrong method for the child you can spend all the money in the world on curriculum and they will not learn a thing and be miserable in the process. True learning happens when we like and even love that which we are learning about- it doesn't matter how I go about teaching the 3 R's just so that there is a connection made in a way that my child can understand it.

This year the Classical child enters 8th grade and wants to know more about the world globally, its cultures and missions work. The "Green" unschooler is in grade 5 and into inventors and their inventions and our little Charlotte Mason man is in grade 2 and is r learning about the plants and bugs, animals and poetry with a lap book here and there. I use to tremble at the thought of three different grades and teaching methods but now I see the calm and centered learning experience that each child has and how well they learn in having their own special world to share with the family. I see the wisdom of how learning needs to be structured for some and for others they simply need to be guided. The full potential of each child lies within himself and our (hubby & I) task is to find what they need to bring it out to share with the world. That's what kind of home educators we are.

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