This semester my daughter enrolled my 7-year-old granddaughter in a charter school for homeschooling. She had been thinking about doing this since before my granddaughter was in kindergarten. But she had real doubts.
What raced through her mind before making the big decision were thoughts that she might not have the patience or the ability to “teach” everything that might be required of her. But many of her friends were successfully homeschooling and they weren’t professional teachers either, so she decided to proceed.
At first I, too, had my doubts, because the task seemed formidable and such a huge responsibility. I had envisioned homeschooling as a series of formal classes on English, math, and all of the other standard subjects usually taught in public schools. But my thinking couldn’t have been further from the truth. Homeschooling is not about sitting at the table and teaching. And it’s growing in popularity: in 2007 almost 3% of school age children were homeschooled, or about 2 million children.
I learned that my granddaughter’s homeschooling curriculum is experientially based. Lessons on English, math, etc., are taught in a contextual-based setting and they are fun. When mother and daughter cook together, the lessons include reading recipes and dealing with fractions (of cups and spoonfuls). When mother and daughter shop together, the lessons include understanding the relative value of coins (e.g., 5 pennies is worth a nickel.) Science projects, usually with dad, can involve star gazing and watching meteor showers, as well as reading books on science or math. My granddaughter also enjoys playing a board game about the planets with grandpa who taught astronomy.
Both mother and daughter have learned much in this short time period. My granddaughter’s reading ability and comprehension have soared and my daughter has gained confidence in her teaching abilities. She now sees everyday activities as teaching opportunities and finds she’s interested in so many new subjects herself.
An education specialist visits once a month to check on school work and offer suggestions for curriculum. My granddaughter takes classes with other homeschooled children in movement, handwork, and Spanish so that she has opportunities to socialize with her peers. My daughter has also learned the importance of having a homeschooling support group to share information and trade materials.
In the seven years since my granddaughter’s birth I’ve learned a lot about new parenting styles and come to appreciate their benefits. My daughter provides me with articles and resources to understand her philosophies so that I can participate along with her. I have so much respect for the way my daughter and son-in-law are raising their daughters. Both girls have wonderful imaginations, play independently and are very sociable.
The more I witness homeschooling the more I realize how perfectly it fits for our family. My husband and I have always loved learning new things, reading non-fiction, and enjoyed researching topics we’re interested in. For me one of the best parts of being a grandma is to instill curiosity and the love of learning in my granddaughters. Now we just consider it part of the school curriculum.
For more information on homeschooling visit:
- Pam Sarooshian: “Learning Happens—Unschooling Observations and Opinions” http://learninghappens.wordpress.com/
- Sandra Dodd: “Radical Unschooling” http://sandradodd.com/unschooling