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Friday, June 22, 2007


When you decide that your children will not attend a public institution for their primary education, you begin a long ordeal of explanation and justification. Which, frankly, you shouldn't have to. "This is what works in our family" should be enough, but people are always eager to challenge anything outside of the norm. Problem is...they judge it *based* on the norm.

Example. I found myself lurking over at MDC again the other day, and quickly remembered why I don't hang out there more. A woman had made an incidental comment in a post about homeschooling her kids, who are ages 4 and 2, and another member attacked her--more than once--for daring to call the kids' learning process "homeschooling". The attacker's premise was that since the kids are younger than typical school age, the mother is not "homeschooling" them, but merely "parenting", as any (supposedly) normal parent would do preparational instruction (basic reading skills, etc.) before their kids enter kindergarten.

I think the attacker is missing the point.

Oh, I'm sure she's coming from a position of self-righteous authority as someone whose vision of homeschool is institutional-style learning, done in the home. She may indeed keep her kids out of a classroom, but her ideas (as she expressed them; I haven't actually opened a dialogue with her to find out) still very much fit our society's paradigm. Learning = School. And it begins at X age, once you have filed the appropriate affidavits, contracted with an evaluator, and ordered your prepackaged curriculum. If you're not doing worksheets and earning grades, it apparently doesn't count.

For folks who embrace a more learner-led educational experience, the concept of defining a starting point for learning is absurd. Although I will provide skill instruction, for the most part my children will be "unschooled". We will not rely on prepackaged study guides and will not lose sleep over standardized tests. These are some of what I wish to *avoid* by keeping them out of the world of public school. Every day has natural opportunities for learning. My one-year-old is learning new things constantly. As am I. A concrete timetable works to define the limits of when a person attends an institution. But to suggest that learning starts and stops according to that timetable is to assume that learning only happens in that setting.

And that's just preposterous.

I also spent some time recently browsing homeschooling families' blogs. One mother said,
Our friends who know we will be homeschooling have begun asking me when we’ll “start” and I simply answer that we’ll just continue what we’re already doing

I need to enforce a little paradigm shift of my own. So what if my kids are 3 and 1. We won't "be" homeschooling. We "are" homeschooling.

And for what it's worth, I'm a student, too. But that's fodder for a separate entry (mental note to self).

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