Thursday, May 05, 2005
Something that interests me
So, I've made the decision that I plan to homeschool once the time comes. I can't promise that my life will allow me to do this or not, but I figure if that's what God wants, then I am totally ready and excited about doing it. I have lost all faith in the public school system, good schools or not, and have come to believe that I, and only I, can teach my child the way he deserves to be taught. Having been a teacher for a short time, I feel like my thoughts are well-based in fact, as I am well aware of the many obstacles and walls that teachers today are faced. I don't blame teachers, I just don't think that they can do for my children what they need, and that in the end my kids will be the ones left to suffer b/c of these politics of the school systems.

Anyway, on Julia's blog the other day, she was talking about her homeschooling beliefs (she's an awesome homeschooler), and mentioned "unschooling". Julia considers herself a kind of middle-of-the-roader, and is somewhere in b/t unschooling and structured learning. She brought this up, I'm assuming, b/c she had planned to do a science lesson the other day with dirt and seeds, and instead it was changed to learning about birds when they found a baby bird out in the yard. Switching over to the bird lesson was somewhat of an unschooling lesson, as unschooling focuses on letting the children learn what they want, when they want, and not following a set lesson plan kind of structure.

Julia, I think, uses a curriculum called Sonlight, and supplements it with other stuff as well. She's told me before that she really doesn't have to do a lot of planning, as most of it is already set up, and she just follows the books. With that kind of schooling, there's a lot of structure (in school we called that direct instruction). It's like a script, and the teacher just follows it as it's written. If it weren't for direct instruction, most children in today's society would have no education whatsoever. There were teachers I worked with before who could plan an entire year ahead and be ready to go. I remember when I taught at Kershaw Elementary, there would be parent volunteers at the copier before school, in September (when school started), making copies for late February lessons. I, on the other hand, was only there to see this b/c I was running to the copier to make copies of what we were going to do during first period that day! Needless to say, I never had the pleasure of having direct instruction materials, and I don't know if I would feel comfortable using it. I did have a few scripted lessons when I taught, here and there, and it was always so exciting, but I'd usually end up changing them all around and making my own lessons from them that fit more with what I wanted the kids to learn.

Needless to say, I read this book called So You're Thinking About Homeschooling, and it told me all about different families who homeschool, and how their situations brought them to their decisions, how their lives were affected, and how they came to decide and use each different type of homeschooling they use. It was a great book, and now I'm even more excited about being able to start. One chapter was about a family with a child with ADHD who chose to "unschool" their child. This method sounded perfect to me. Honestly, it sounds a lot like what I did as a special education teacher. Since we never had a set curriculum for our students, and were not given any set curriculum materials (most special ed teachers just find what they can, and take leftovers from other teachers), this is most fitting with what I'm already used to doing. Furthermore, I would have classes of 8-10 on average, with each student being on a different level in each subject, and be required to teach each to his own level (I wasn't always so successful, but...). I'll have two (or more) kids, so that would work well. "Unschooling" basically is letting the child learn what he wants when he's ready to learn it. This doesn't mean that if your child never gets interested in learning math, that you never have to teach him. On the contrary, I think that unschooling parents have to be more involved in their child's education, and more willing to build interest in the child. I compare this method to Montessori schools. If you know anything about them, they basically have the materials ready, and let the students choose their educational path. It involves a lot of centers (little areas where they can do different activities, that are set up around the room). I won't, obviously, set up my house with centers, but I figure if my child isn't ready to work on adding, but is really interested in reading a story, then why try to force him to do math? It would be a waste of time. I learned this well when I taught. There were many days when my lessons didn't interest my students, and I might as well have been teaching the wall! So why bother, when I could be talking about something he cares about, and will learn tons about. I know that on those days when my students didn't care, I could have talked about rap and gang-banging, and they would have been enthralled. I remember one day when we were talking about measurement, I was having a conversation with the wall. I decided to try something...I asked how many ounces were in a kilo of cocaine, or if that was the right measurement. It was kind of a joke, but all of a sudden all of them perked up, and I found out that they knew SOOOOOO much about measurement that they otherwise would not have divulged. In the end, it was pretty sad that it took mentioning cocaine to get them interested, hope is that my children will have more lucrative interests! Of course, there are many different levels of any method of teaching, and I won't be an extreme unschooler. I still think there are things that my child must learn in order to succeed in life. However, if TJ doesn't know how to multiply by the time he's six, I won't fall over dead (I will, of course, push for him to overachieve at some things!). However, if by the age of 10 he can't mulitiply, then I might have to force some learning on him!

I like the article that Julia referenced in her blog comment on this subject.

What is Unschooling

I think it's an accurate description of my feelings on the subject. Of course I'm nowhere near done with my research, and not 100% set on this method. I may find something that I think will work even better along the way! What I think is the absolute best thing about teaching is that if you see that something isn't working, then you can take a 180 degree turn and try something else! You can also mix and match, which is like what Julia does (and I'm sure I'll do), and have fun with it. That is the part of teaching that I fell in love with, and that I think I can pursue with homeschooling. I feel for teachers, who are forced to follow set rules and politics, who can't teach to their capabilities. I feel more for the ones that don't realize that what they're doing doesn't work, and don't do anything to fix it. I was told while I was teaching that I had potential to be a great teacher. I thought I already was (alright, fine, I have an ego problem...sue me!). I admit, though, that I never fit in with politics and the crap you have to do outside of teaching, and for that, I would never have been a great teacher. Me and my misguided goals! I did laugh when I was told that about my potential, b/c at the time we were talking about the whole politics thing, and I knew that I would never be great if that were a stipulation. Who would have ever thought that getting fired could make someone's life so much better! I now have the ability and chance to become the great teacher I always wanted to be!

Alright, I think I rambled quite a bit there, but hey, that's what was in my head, so....I hope you have a great day, and I'll see you soon!
posted by Christi at 5:31 PM | Permalink |


  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger Julia

    What a great post. I didn't really know how much you knew about homeschooling, but it sounds like you have been doing your homework!

    In case you're interested in what I really use, I use some Sonlight stuff, but I feel like I've grown out of that. It's a great, very flexible program and it's totally customizable. When I'm done with what we have I'm planning on using my own resources because I don't think I need the hand holding anymore. I'm sure you'll be a great homeschool teacher.

  • At 11:05 PM, Blogger k8

    I'm jealous. I wish I could stay home and homeschool my kids. I need me a rich man. PS You'll see me soon? Really? When?

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger Christi

    Huh? Are you coming to SC? Is this what he said? Are you outside my window? Should I go ahead and make sure the back door is locked? Huh?

  • At 12:36 AM, Blogger k8

    veeeery funny.

  • At 12:37 AM, Blogger Anvilcloud

    Taught (successfully -- blush, blush) for thirty years -- one day at a time. How someone could know on Spet 10 what they'll exactly be teaching on Sept 17, nevermind Feb 17, is beyond me.

  • At 7:21 AM, Blogger gina

    you will do great i am sure of it. your desire to homeschool perplexes me to no end, if i may be honest. BUT i love how passionate and excited you sound about it . TJ will be the smartest kid around .
    it is definitely a calling, and i know your heart is in it. I am proud of you for that.

  • At 8:42 AM, Blogger tonyheartssarah

    we plan to have kids someday. homeschooling is a very interesting option.-s

  • At 2:43 PM, Blogger kathy

    Hi Christi
    About those Mark Twain quotes. I'm not Anti-god, i believe in God. It's just that I'm not fond of Organized religion. I'm sure its because of the way i was raised...maybe i should write about that on my blog. Mark Twain was a great writer, and i like the way he thinks. Today the way the Bushs pretend to be religious makes me sick! and I'm not the only one out there...lots of blogs are expressing the same thing. What Mark Twain said about reform by Example hit it right on the head i thought! Bush has set a Really Bad example, as a president and as a Christian who believes in God. I'm not trying to make anyone mad at me...I'm just trying to express my disappointment in Organized religion. If Jesus was here today...he'd tell Bush Not to go into Iraq and War. Because Jesus was against killing people right?

  • At 2:02 AM, Blogger Gina

    I am interested in home schooling, but alas, my husband is pretty adamantly against it. Perhaps I should get the book you referred to and see if I can't get some facts to present him with.

  • At 1:14 PM, Blogger k8

    what did you say to that person up there to tick em off?

  • At 1:35 PM, Blogger gina

    THAT WAS ANOTHER GINA~!! i do NOT want to homeschool EVER. lol. okay, other gina, we need a system. i can be gina from SC who will you be?