“Wake up everyone, we’ve got to get going so we’re not late for school … again.” Familiar right? The day-to-day stress of getting our children ready for school not only begins with us groaning from the first alarm of the day — because I know there are more — to the breakfast rush, the bus timeline or car ride. Then there’s the school traffic in the morning and pickup. Not fun at all. So, we decided to change the way we were living our lives.
The decision to become a homeschool family came from not being pleased with the academic results my children were displaying. Now, I took a very objective look at the situation and understood the friction. Teachers are usually underpaid and overwhelmed at the volume of children in their classrooms. The Global Economy Report for 2018 within the U.S. places 14.5 students to one teacher any given day of the week. I was able to volunteer for a few months at varying grade levels ranging from elementary to secondary school and found that number difficult to teach due to a lack of parental involvement, child interest, interruptions, time, etc. I concluded that at no fault of their own, the teacher was fighting a battle which unfortunately did not contribute to my children’s success in basic public education.
Change was necessary. My wife and I began to scour the internet for alternative solutions. They existed everywhere! But, we had to figure out what was the right fit for our lifestyle, our intentions for the children, and even the cost. After many hours of looking at websites, speaking directly with representatives from several different options, we decided they were not the appropriate choice for us. Here is where I can say we decided to take a very unconventional approach to what is commonly referred to as unschooling, or an “educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.” In addition to adopting this method, I also added other basic educational desires we believe our children needed for today’s rapidly growing technological society.
So what did we do? We became the teachers.
After purchasing several books, we ended up using the “Brain Quest Workbook” and I began a system of teaching four children, at varying grade levels, simultaneously. It’s working! Our normal schedule now consists of waking up naturally around 7-8 am and having breakfast while opening up that day’s coursework.
They each work diligently while eating their choice of pancakes, bagel, eggs, cereal, etc, which they usual prepare themselves. What a life!
We are building foundation skills for them to be functional on their own while understanding the balance of work along with enjoyment aspects too. After their assignments are complete and graded by me, we continue the day with either the pre-planned outdoor activity or planning for kayaking the local rivers, a trip to the museum, a hike, bike ride, the sky is literally the limit.
We usually prepare a single pot meal for the evening and head out for the day’s adventure. At night, we settle down with our individual technology pieces, play board games, and/or continue to expand our mind.
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So what have I accomplished by placing my children around me nearly 24/7 utilizing this homeschool family education? In my eyes, I’ve created a foundational element and understanding of family. We are learning more about each other every day and this creates a bond most families seek. Additionally, my children’s educational needs are being met or surpassed daily and their questions are being answered to the fullest. No more, ‘sorry dear, we don’t have time for that’ and the lesson continues. Instead, there are in depth conversations on the ‘whys’ about any topic that arises. Interestingly enough now, adults find conversations with my children ranging from four years old to 10 insightful and delightful. Cheers to that!
My children are also spending time seeing the U.S. firsthand. They are able to experience academics and sensory-based learning wherever we travel to.
Last and not least, our schedule is made by us. No mandatory attendance or the ‘system’ is reporting you, no cost of uniforms or excessive school supplies to drain money which can be spent better towards field trips on our own timeline and pace. No headache to disrupt the morning and afternoon cycles with making sure our kids are ‘on-time’ to school or we’re there to receive them at the end of the school day. Simply put, our life is ours.