We’ve made it to week five! Those first couple weeks were very difficult. My son didn’t fully understand what was happening or what was expected. I’m also discovering that he has some trauma around his time in public school. We can’t even drive by his old school building without him shrinking in his carseat and telling me, “No!” So, experiencing what feels like school in his safe haven at home must be confusing to say the least. Things are improving with each passing day and he has truly been flourishing. He’s demonstrating skills I didn’t know he had! I’m grateful to be able to provide him with a tailored education.
I use Blossom and Root as our educational base and supplement with Preschool Math at Home and Discover Reading to offer extra support in the areas of math and pre-reading/phonics. Starting out, I was concerned that my son would become frustrated with the work, because I hadn’t seen him in “school mode” yet. I have no such fears anymore. He wants knowledge! He enjoys figuring things out. I have found that I can show him something and then get out of his way, because he will go above and beyond what the lesson calls for.
We’re on a 5-day school week in the midst of a schedule that loosely follows that of our local school system. However, I’ve extended it out to give us more time off during the year as well as some dedicated time over the summer months to deep dive into unit studies. I’ve already decided we will learn about the Muscogee Nation whose ancestral land was stolen away to build the town in which we currently live. We will continue to learn more about these people, so that my children will understand genuinely who they are and, in learning about what white people did (and continue to do) to these Indigenous people, will respond with empathy and recognition. I will not have my children coldly reciting facts about a living people who survived such cruelty.
One of the reasons I was so drawn to homeschooling was the opportunity to extract my kids from the white centric, US-oriented educational system. My son absolutely loved his teachers and para-professionals. And, we were fortunate that they understood why we couldn’t participate in certain school activities and why I made special requests (like asking that his class not dress as Indigenous people during their Thanksgiving celebration). They accommodated us and loved my child, but love on its own can’t overcome the harm the U.S. educational system does to children every day, which different families handle in different ways. Our way is homeschooling until our kids are old enough to make an informed decision about going back to public school.
Let me not digress further here, because I haven’t even really gotten to the title of this post. It’s taken only five weeks for me to realize I’ve made some errors in judgment. When I tell y’all I am about done in, whew! But, our first break of the year isn’t for weeks yet. So, next year, I’m switching it up. First of all, we’re sticking to six week terms. They will be punctuated with breaks from 1-3 weeks depending on the season and what we’re planning to do. We’ll still do our summer season unit studies, but we’ll be taking an entire month off before the 2021-2022 school year begins.
In addition to clipping our academic terms, we’re moving to a modified 4-day week. We will be continuing our Charlotte Mason-inspired journey Monday through Thursday, and then Friday will be completely open and learner-led. One of the wonderful side effects of learner-led education is that it ignites a passion for knowledge. My children will be able to lose themselves in the things they enjoy most and they will learn how to pursue their interests, so that they will never be bored. As I find my heart tugged in the direction of unschooling, I came across an interesting mesh of Charlotte Mason and unschooling in something called Tidal Homeschooling. Perhaps that is where we’ll end up. For now, we’re moving slowly and discovering who we are along the way.