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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homeschooling Helena

I have been thinking, a lot, on what it means to home school Helena. On what should be included in our routine, what do I want for her?

I was home schooled myself, back in the dark ages of homeschooling, when few people had heard of it, and people turned and stared to see us out and about with mom during school hours.

My parent's homeschooling style for us would definitely fall under what is termed today as "unschooling," which can be loosely defined as a philosophy of allowing the child to learn through natural life experiences. This style allows the child to lead the learning process by choosing areas of interest to focus on rather than following specific curriculum

On reflecting upon my experiences growing up in this way, I have mixed feelings. In life I always come back to wanting some kind of balance, in this case between the looseness of this style and something more directed. Extremes never sit very well with me, and this seems to be no exception.
It's nearly impossible for me to think about what I want for Helena without reflecting on what I think I would have wanted for myself, and here are some of the things I've come up with so far.

Structure vs Looseness: I do believe that Helena is already learning so much through everyday life, and yet I think she would benefit, even thrive, with some regular, somewhat structured learning. She's a little Virgo and seems to crave routine and structure...something I have a love hate relationship with myself. So finding a balance there seems rather crucial to me. In this I will take some of her areas of interest, and create some structured activity around them...this sounds tricky as I describe it, but I think it can be done.

Regular social activity: Helena is a very social person, likes to play and engage more than not. We lived a very rural part of San Diego county when I was growing up, and I did feel very isolated. I think there is something to be said for time alone, and I value very much the fact that I can be quite content occupying myself for long periods of time, but I also think I would have thrived better with more, regular contact with people outside of my family. I'm less concerned with Helena's ability to interact well with others, she already thrives in this way. I simply want to be sure to provide for this need.

Adult Role Models: This is a really key piece that was lacking for me and that I really want to provide for Helena. As mommy to a female child and as primary educator, (whichever style of homeschooling I choose to follow), I'm very cognizant of the fact that I have a strong influence on Helena. To a certain extent this is natural, but I want to be very sensitive to the fact that she needs to have other views of life and the world than mine presented and modeled for her. Especially as she nears her teen years (sniff, sniff, can't believe in some ways that I'm even thinking that way already), I want her to have other opinions to try on and consider and embrace if they resonate with her.

I think this list will go on and on, but these things are at the forefront for me right now. This will be an interesting journey, to be sure.