First let me start by saying I have no idea who Mrs G is, but I found this article and thought it had some goods points and just an all around interesting read, so I wanted to include it. Enjoy.
Why We Continue to Homeschool - By Mrs. G.Jun. 11, 2009
This post is brought to us by Mrs. G., a straight-talking veteran homeschooler and creator of The Women’s Colony, an online catch-all for art, letters, and shenanigans by women. This gal knows what she’s doin’.
Oh, and she writes about herself in the third person, so please don’t get confused.
Welcome, Mrs. G.!
Mr. and Mrs. G. stumbled into homeschooling. They had never heard of it until Mrs. G. found this book at the library, and started to realize that she wasn’t ready to send her daughter off for a full day of kindergarten. Mrs. G. treasured the vibe her little family had created—hanging at home, cooking, playing, walking to the library, taking the bus to downtown Raleigh and creating massive art projects out of materials that are now referred to as recycling. She just wasn’t ready to give it up. So Mrs. G. read this book and then Mr. G. read this book and they looked at each other and said ah, what the hell, let’s give it a try.
So that year, Mrs. G, her daughter, and her baby son spent their days doing essentially the same thing they had been doing the year before, but with more reading. Mrs. G. would ask her daughter each Monday what she was interested in that week and her daughter would say “dogs” or “sharks” or “horses” or “giraffes” or “whales” and off they would go to the library to get stacks of child and adult books on said topic, bring them home, spread them around the living room floor, and read. And then they would go outside and play or take the bus to the grocery store (Mr. and Mrs. G. weren’t poor, but they were close) and that was about it. Mrs. G. didn’t by any curriculum or workbooks or “schooly” type materials, mainly because she didn’t know where to find them or have the money to buy them. Mrs. G. focused on helping her kids realize the world was their classroom—that there is stuff to learn everywhere.
The next year, Mrs. G’s daughter wanted to try out real school with her best friend in the neighborhood. She went to first grade and did just fine. But Mrs. G. started to notice some things that she wasn’t so crazy about. When she would volunteer at the school, first grade girls were talking about their sexy Halloween costumes and who was the most beautiful girl and who was the hottest boy. Mrs. G. could let that slide because she and her family didn’t live under a rock, but what was really bothering her was that when her daughter sat down in the evening to do her busy homework, she would finish it quickly and when Mrs. G. would say well, let’s explore this a little further or what do you think about that, her normally curious and chatty daughter would show no interest and repeatedly say but “Miss May didn’t tell us to do that. That’s not in the homework.” Mrs. G. felt like she was watching her daughter lose her zest for learning, watching her daughter hand over her natural instinct to shepherd her own learning to someone else. And that sealed the deal. Her kids have been home ever since.
Mrs. G. was reluctant to write about homeschooling because why and how you do it varies so widely. For the G’s, homeschooling is more of a way of life than a segment of their day. Homeschooling has given their family so much time and freedom to be together and control the pace of their lives. If Mrs. G. had to describe herself under the current homeschooling labels she would have to say she is an unschooler who makes her kids do math whether they want to or not. Mrs. G. felt her main job was making sure their house was filled to the brim with good books (hello garage sales and Goodwill) on all kinds of subjects, helping her kids identify their passions and figure out how to explore them on a budget, teaching them life skills at an early age so that they understood the concept of teamwork and that Mrs. G. was not a maid or servant or ATM machine. And loving them.
Mrs. G’s highly subjective opinions regarding homeschooling small fry:
* Homeschooling isn’t for everyone—if it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t do it, because it will probably not go well. It is a huge responsibility and, like all things, there are peaks and valleys. At least three times a year, Mrs. G. accosts Mr. G. at the door and tells him that she is driving the kids to school the very next day, because she can’t take it anymore and she is ruining the kids and their futures, and she is just over it. And what does it take to get some time alone around here. And then she goes somewhere by herself for a few hours and recovers. Take homeschooling on a year-by-year basis. If Mrs. G’s kids had expressed a genuine interest in public school, she would have let them go in a second. Mrs. G. is all about choices.
* Most beginning homeschoolers, in their enthusiasm, bite off more than they can chew and try to do too much which leads to burnout for everyone. For the first five grades Mrs. G. focused on reading to her kids, having them read to her and learning the basics of elementary math. All other subjects like science and history were explored through good books or books on tape, good PBS shows, good magazines, good cooking, good yard work, good playing and good cleaning of bathrooms.
* It makes a huge difference to be part of a like-minded homeschool group or homeschool co-op. Mrs. G’s kids have taken many classes on things that are more difficult to do at home—foreign language, drama, singing, dancing and band. Mrs. G. has done a lot of bartering for lessons and classes. Her kids have participated in parent partnership programs in the public school system. They have volunteered at food banks and the humane society; there are so many community resources out there. You just have to look around and talk to other homeschooling moms.
* Don’t buy the whole socialization issue—Mrs. G. had to put the brakes on some social activities, because she was spending too much time in the car. Of all the BS homeschooling myths out there, Mrs. G. thinks this is the lamest. Also, all children are gifted, so try not to get caught up in that whole homeschool genius thing.
* Don’t rush out and spend a ton of money on a full curriculum—one size rarely fits all and many kids find them painfully boring.
* A child’s main job should be to play. Encourage playing alone—a most excellent result of occasional boredom and not being over-scheduled.
* If you are unable to stick to a schedule, you are probably doing things right.
* Learning takes place all of the time. And it is shocking how much younger siblings absorb as you read or discuss things with your older child. Mrs. G. didn’t know her son could read until he asked what “employees only” meant, and she realized he was reading off doors. He was an early reader; Mrs. G’s daughter was not.Follow your own instincts and take all advice with a grain of salt (even Mrs. G’s!) No one knows your kid better than you do.
Favorite Resources:Homeschooling moms-by far your greatest source of informationThe Public Library-librarians are your best friends-bring them homemade cookies regularly and you might get a few points shaved off the late fees.
Farm School-Becky has the most amazing collection of information and resourcesChinaberry BooksRainbow Resource CenterTimberdoodleOak MeadowHome Education MagazineSecular HomeschoolingA to Z Home’s Cool
Favorite Books:The Homeschooling Book of Answers and all other Linda Dobson booksAll John Holt booksReal-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at HomeWhole Parent, Whole Child
Mrs. G. is an old homeschooling broad with a properly socialized freshman in college and a 14-year-old son.