“I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn.”Albert Einstein
Labor Day is upon us and it is with great delight that some parents are sending their children back to school. It is a time in which parents get the much-needed breaks they have longed for as the end of summer approaches. They get back into their routines and create new ones. They shop for school supplies, pack lunches and capture those precious “first-day” photos!
Pierce, my oldest son, is four and a half and by some conventional standards should be in preschool already. I have chosen to keep my boys with me and have opted out of the preschool route. I understand and respect the teaching profession immensely even though I’m not choosing traditional schooling at this time. I realize I am very fortunate that I get to stay home and raise my boys. I give thanks for this every day and this is the choice I have made for me and for my family.
There was a time when I considered becoming a teacher. While growing up, I always had a chalkboard and loved teaching my brothers, sister, and anyone else who would sit in. I would have my mom take me to get stickers at the office supply store so I could reward them as I graded their work. I remember taking it so seriously and I truly enjoyed the act of teaching. When I became a mother I was given that job and it came with two beautiful pupils who call me Mommy, Mama, and the latest, Mamina. I don’t get summer vacations or spring breaks and that is ok. The benefits I receive cannot be measured nor would I trade them for anything.
Along this journey so far, I’ve often wondered which path I would choose for my boys in terms of schooling. People have told me about private schools with farms, public schools with Ipads, Montessori schools, and everything in between. I’m happy these choices are available and have worked for so many. I have chosen to keep my boys by my side every day and I continue to trust myself and my instincts as their mother in deciding what is best. I educate myself on the options available and I continue to learn more each day. This is a time I don’t want to miss as it all goes by too quickly.
With anything, there will be doubters and somewhere you will find supporters. I made choices in regard to extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and positive discipline. I went against the norm, especially in my circle of friends and family, and discovered that I was not alone. I realized, after a period of questioning myself because of judgment and doubt from others, that my instincts must be trusted. I realized that the Love I act from cannot be wrong. I learned that this gift I was given upon delivering children to this world, is the strongest and truest voice I’ve ever heard. I don’t doubt it anymore. I will gather information and make decisions but I trust my voice. I trust my love. I trust my intentions.
The argument I hear time and again for sending my boys to school outside of the home is the issue of socialization. Both of my boys are very social and more than social, they are socially aware. I don’t look at school as a social experiment and I never have. Sadly, the issue of bullying still exists and it only seems to be getting worse.
As a student, I felt that school didn’t necessarily teach me critical thinking. It didn’t teach me to Love the act or art of Learning, but rather the act of memorization. Thankfully I developed those things in spite of that. I absolutely loved learning and still do. School systems base intelligence on the ability to remember and repeat. It is said that children are great imitators. They are sponges. I want to show my sons the world and give them things beyond their imagination to emulate. I want them to problem solve and experience different cultures, ways of traveling, languages, countries, art, sports and so much more. I want them to be original. I want them to be free-spirited. I want them to Create and Invent themselves. I want them to be leaders, not conformists; socially or intellectually. I want them to have an innate, passionate love for learning. These are my wishes and my ideas. We are all different.
As I explore the possibility of homeschooling, I find myself growing more interested every day. At the end of each year, children are required to pass a state-mandated test for their grade level. Since homeschooling has become so popular and is on the rise exponentially, programs are being created in an effort to make it more of a communal experience. There are sports leagues with homeschooled kids, museum tours, community service projects, and many other social and educational events and opportunities in which kids in the same age brackets and grade levels come together.
My youngest son, Aston, is two and a half and he is so bright and curious. He speaks like an adult and questions everything; as he should. He’s already learning French and very interested in reading, puzzles, sports, cooking, Legos, art, and dancing! My big boy, Pierce, is just as bright and curious. He’s so athletic and enthusiastic about baseball, soccer, tennis, swimming, running, and any other sport he can get himself into. He loves the alphabet, reading, counting, spelling, Legos, cooking, and the World Map. He seems to have such a passion for geography, history, and science at this time. His mind is very organized and methodical.
I believe playing is such an important part of learning and growing. Both of my boys love acquiring information. I truly believe part of that comes from the fact that I am engaged and completely present during those times. In this age, when we are so connected to our digital appendages, true presence is a rarity and one of the greatest gifts we can offer. I plan on continuing this journey with my boys as both their mother and their trusted teacher. I am teaching them to make decisions that are right for them and to question what they are told. I want them to always ask questions. I don’t believe in normal. I believe in letting your own, unique light shine. I do not follow societal norms. I do not rebel but I pave my own way. I want them to learn the same.
I understand homeschooling isn’t for everyone. I will continue to research it and other options and come to a decision when the time arrives that I need to do so. Part of the education I implement daily is just based on fundamental values. My boys will learn to focus on their strengths and they will determine how to improve upon their weaknesses. They will learn that they don’t have to fit into a hierarchy to be accepted. I wish for them to know that they can be well adjusted socially and smart without being criticized. They can excel at making friends and still get an excellent education. I want them to choose their friends based on values and not upon how cool someone is or what kind of clothing they wear. I want them to establish the foundation of their being, not from their peers, and not from strangers. These will all be influences along the way.
The formative years can never be re-written. I want to Love, Nurture, Support, Encourage, Guide, and uncover this world to them and all it has to offer. I want them to learn compassion and love in a way that exposure to the world can only show.
Education is Life. Life is our education. We were all brought up differently. We were all influenced and inspired by different things. What got us to where we are today is a combination to which we each hold our own key. We would have changed many things or perhaps we would have changed nothing. As a parent, I can tell you this. I am grateful for the wisdom I have gained up to this point in my forty years. I look forward to growing and learning together on this precious journey of life.