Finding freedom in homeschooling
Homeschool. Public school. Unschool. Road school. Private school. Worldschool.
Schooling can take on different shapes and styles. But at the core of each, is education. It’s teaching and equipping our children with the knowledge and tools they will need to be productive humans.
Each child has unique needs. I believe this to also be true for families. Homeschooling allows us to shape education to meet our family’s needs. This perspective has helped define what homeschooling/unschooling means for my family.
Breaking free from a Public School Model
I am a homeschool parent with 4 children (9, 7, 2, and 6 months old). As a former public school teacher, I had to change my mindset for homeschooling. At the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I subconsciously created a smaller microcosm of the public school classroom at home. It was very stressful. I had put undue pressure on myself and my son to meet standards that were really unimposed in the home environment.
I eventually realized that I was free to look at the unique make-up of my child, look at myself as his mom and teacher and look at the culture within our family life. Then, I was able to assess what we truly needed as a homeschooling family. For us, those needs have been flexibility, spontaneity and organic opportunities to learn as life happens, while also having a foundational structure for the fundamentals of learning.
Dealing with doubt and leaning on others
I am a homeschool mom who doubts herself, struggling with the feeling that I’m not doing enough. I have felt inadequate as a teacher at times throughout this journey.
However, I am learning that all of those feelings are completely normal and when filtered correctly, they can be used to push towards a deeper connection to the work of a homeschooling parent.
For instance, there is an endless amount of educational resources. From local homeschool groups and co-ops, to online communities for moms/parents, and even friends and families that become an extension of learning. Leaning on these resources helps to take the fear and doubt out of the responsibility of teaching our child/children keeps us from feeling alone in the journey.
Homeschooling serves our family’s needs
We currently live in an RV all together as a family. Prior to moving into our RV, we’ve lived with family and we lived far away from family. Homeschooling has looked very different in every season of life our family has experienced. We adapt homeschooling to the ebb and flow of our family’s journey. We adapt it to serve us and serve us well in whatever season our family is in.
Whether we have a structured schedule or are out exploring on our travels, education never stops. There are times when it is more focused and other times it’s purely organic. Our family has enjoyed the freedom homeschooling brings and I personally enjoy seeing my children’s interests and talents take form while being able to help guide those things however I think is best. This lifestyle fits our family so well right now and it is a choice we make to serve our purpose as a family.
Know your “why”
I don’t personally believe there is a hierarchy in how a family chooses to educate their children. I do avidly encourage families to just know their ‘why’. In the sea of opinions and naysayers, you have to understand why you choose what you choose in order to stand firm for your family.
If you are a family considering homeschooling, don’t be overwhelmed! You can shape the learning for any environment with a willingness to make it work. When we are traveling, I use the internet for resources all the time. We have in-depth discussions, find worksheets and videos of the area we are visiting. We learn about any animals that are specific to the area and we search out any of the local popular landmarks.
We have traveled along some of the eastern and southeastern regions and had an opportunity to stay 7 weeks in Australia. I try to make the most out of every little experience and all the questions my children have in order to bring to life, as much as I can, all the curiosities swirling inside them. These experiences were made possible by our choice to homeschool.
Freedom of individualized education
The freedom to individualize education for my children is another huge benefit of homeschooling.
Each of my children has educational goals and we use whatever resources that fit best for each child to reach those goals. They have bookwork, online learning sites and educational board games that I interchange for their structured learning.
My favorite, though, is when natural happenings occur that we capitalize on educationally. While living stationary in our RV, we noticed a bird’s nest on our RV ladder last Spring. Because the ladder was right in the window, we were able to see the entire process of the nest-building, the eggs hatching, the parents working together to feed the baby birds, and them setting out to flight for the first time. It was amazing!
I was able to create so many learning opportunities during that experience that included math, reading, writing, and art.
Anything is possible
So whether in a tiny living room, classroom, music room, in the middle of the woods or at a museum, education can take place.
Homeschooling provides a kind of freedom that traditional education can’t match. Be encouraged that sometimes it may just take a perspective shift and ultimately, as the parent, you can have this kind of educational freedom.
Floshea Harrigan is a stay-at-home, homeschool mom of 4. Her family of 6 currently lives fulltime in an RV and they are loving the simple life. In her down time, she loves expressing my creativity however it flows. (For example, she has an eye for decorating her home!) She believes life is a gift and tries to treat it as such every day. You can follow her journey on Instagram.
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