Homeschooling Harry: Every Day Learning

So we’ve had a week of homeschooling – how’s it been?

Just lovely. Really.

I know it’s going to take some time to get used to. I know that for a while at least, we’re going to feel like it’s still the summer holidays and not that this is permanent. But right now I feel a bit like I do when I remember I work for myself and I don’t have to go to an office anymore. I feel free.

But, yes, I know, it’s not entirely about me. How does Harry feel? During the summer holidays, whenever I mentioned going back to school he said he wasn’t going. I suggested that he at least try Year 4, maybe for 6 weeks? And he said, “Nope. That’s not happening.” I didn’t blame him. It was just me trying to delay the decision really, because how is leaving six weeks into a new year any easier/better than just not going back at all?

By the end of the holidays, I was convinced that staying home was the right decision, but David was still wavering. So we sat down and talked about it. And I managed to convince him that since me and Harry were all for it, he should really get on board. (Also, I used the ‘If it doesn’t work out, he can go back any time…’ argument. I was talking to a friend at the weekend – hi, Alison! – and she said I mentioned it a couple times, that he could go back if it didn’t work out. And that’s because it’s a big thing for me. It seems like a huge decision – and it is – but it’s not an irreversible one and that’s comforting.)

The next morning, I told Harry that Daddy had agreed he didn’t have to go back to school and he said, “That’s what I’ve been hoping for.” Which made me cry a little bit, obviously. I said, “What should we call it, do you think?” I’d been thinking that I didn’t want to call it ‘homeschooling’ since it really has nothing to do with school. Harry said, “How about… every day learning.” Which is perfect, of course.

There’s so much I want to say about all of this – so much that I’ve been lying awake at night composing blog posts in my head – but I’ll just leave it there for now. Except for a couple of paragraphs I read in a recent blog post by Penelope Trunk (who homeschools her two sons) that made me shout, “Yes!” and bounce in my seat with excitement:

I confess that I love seeing how excited I can make them with the world around them. I loved their mouths hanging open. I loved their smiles and seeing them jump in their seats. I want their whole lives to be like that. Every day. I want to teach them how to make that for themselves.

In the meantime, they give that to me. At least once a day. And I think that is really why I’m keeping them out of school. So we can all have more joy, each day, together.

In London. On a school day.
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14 thoughts on “Homeschooling Harry: Every Day Learning

  1. That’s such a lovely quote! (Just don’t read her opinions on any feminist topic you can think of, or you’ll be bouncing in your seat with rage.) Harry seems so clever already, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t *need* school.

    1. Ha! Yes, I know. I read something on her main blog recently that made me shriek with rage, but she writes really well about homeschooling.

      It depends what you think school is for, doesn’t it? I’m less and less convinced that there are all these facts everyone must know (particularly now you can, you know, google ’em) so school should be for fostering the joy of learning. And, in my experience, it really, REALLY, doesn’t.

    1. I’m scared too! I get the impression that most homeschooling parents are to some extent. (But it’s not like I was 100% happy with school either.)

  2. Keris, I’m truly curious about a couple of things, but aware that you’ve had some really negative comments about this before and don’t want to come across as negative. I think what you’re doing is excellent. But I’m curious about how they’ll learn important stuff that you don’t know much about (even though I know you know lots of stuff). I guess that’s something that might come into play as they get older – would you home school (or every day learn) when they were teenagers?

    It fascinates me, and I think you’re doing an excellent thing that they (and you) will get so much good out of, but there’s a part of me that doesn’t see it working in the same way when they’re older. Is it something that you’d carry on doing throughout their entire schooling? I’m aware that you’re only a week in so I’m jumping the gun, but I’m guessing that it’s something you must have thought about – the long-term outcome is surely a factor even if Harry can go back to school. I don’t think you’d be doing it if you didn’t think he’d get a benefit long-term, but I’m curious about how long that long-term can be.

    That was lots of curiousness for one comment. (I hope it comes across as genuine interest rather than questioning what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.)

    1. Thanks, Sian. That doesn’t come across as negative at all, don’t worry. The main thing about unschooling is that I won’t be ‘teaching’ them, they’ll be learning themselves through, you know, living. The first thing I read that really made me think about how this works, was that children learn some of the biggest things they’ll EVER learn – walking and talking, for a start – just by living and playing and being in the world, but then suddenly, at age 4, society thinks the only education is formal education.

      From everything I’ve read, it seems that children can pick up everything they need to know (obviously *what* they need to know is another discussion!) by themselves. They follow their own interests/passions and parents act more as facilitators than teachers. This is a really great post about learning to write, for instance http://skipping-school.com/?p=365#more-365

      I’ve just read a really interesting article about it in Green Parent magazine that summarises the whole thing brilliantly – I can scan it in and email it to you, if you’d like? No worries if you’re not THAT interested. 😀

  3. I think it’s truly wonderful what your doing. I have actual tears & everything. You have such a terrific opportunity with this & Harry is just so astoundingly awesome ❤

  4. Love his name for it – every day learning! I home schooled my daughter the second semester of 7th grade. We’d had some life changes over that past year, including her father and I splitting up and she and her sister and I moving. She just got so overwhelmed the first semester, doing good then falling behind then catching up then falling behind…when school started after Christmas break she had stomach aches every day, until one day she just collapsed on the floor and sobbed and begged not to go.

    Now I’ll confess something – we didn’t actually do much schooling that semester. I know, bad parent. But for her it became more about time to regroup, get her thoughts and emotions in order, and become at peace with herself and our new life. After summer break, she said she was ready to go back. She had to test of course to get back into public school, but she tested above her grade level – at 9th/10th grade levels, and at 12th grade on one subject, which was a boost to her confidence.

    Sometimes kids just need a break, same as adults do.

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