I’ve been an obituary clerk, a copy editor, a reporter, a web producer, the Weekly Record editor, the online editor, a blogger, a columnist… the list goes on.
Last December, though, I decided to try on a new hat. I requested permission to reduce my schedule to 18 hours of work a week – and to do most of that from home. It was a huge change – and, in some ways, an incredibly scary one.
But we had a good reason, as a family, for making this decision. We wanted to be in a position to homeschool our daughter, Sarah.
Sarah, who is now 12, left public school on Feb. 29 – in what I call our “Leap Day leap.” As of last week, we were done with the paperwork needed to show that Sarah officially “completed” what would have been her sixth-grade year, and I guess now we have a seventh-grader!
I phrase it that way because we’re not really “grade” people. We don’t look at Sarah as working at one particular grade level, and she doesn’t get graded on her day-to-day activities, either.
We fall into a growing group of homeschoolers who “go with the flow” – often called unschoolers, but also “child-led learners,” “relaxed homeschoolers,” “interest-directed learners,” “lifetime learners,” or any number of other terms.
The idea is simple: We don’t use a particular curriculum. We don’t separate “school time” from “the rest of the time.” We learn about what Sarah’s interested in, we share OUR interests, and we do it all as a family.
When I launched our new homeschooling blog, Our School at Home, I shared more about our relaxed approach. From that post, here’s a brief look at what we are and aren’t:
We ARE informal.
We ARE trying to grab teaching and learning moments as they come.
We ARE letting Sarah make the decisions in as many cases as possible.
We ARE trying to find what works for us, and are willing to change as we go if something isn’t.
We ARE actively engaging with our daughter and with the world around us.
We AREN’T using any “textbooks” at this point.
We AREN’T judgmental about other schooling approaches, including public school.
We AREN’T worried (well, at least not too much) about what goes into our portfolio at the end of the year.
We AREN’T comparing our days to what Sarah would have done in her former school.
We AREN’T experts.
As we began our hoomeschooling/unschooling journey, it amazed me how much of what we do is applicable to anyone. Certainly, the activities we do and the things we learn would be of interest to most parents. But the idea of a “lifestyle of learning” can – and SHOULD – be attractive to adults as well.
So when new Smart editor April Trotter asked me to share some news from “our school at home” here on Smart’s blog each week, I was thrilled.
We’ll talk about learning – and when it does and doesn’t happen. We’ll talk about some of the fun projects we do and trips we take. We’ll talk about life with Asperger’s and sensory processing disorder, both of which contributed to Sarah’s struggles to succeed in public school despite being gifted in some areas. And we’ll share some resources on the particulars of homeschooling in Pennsylvania that we’ve picked up along the way.
I hope you’ll learn right along with us.
I’ll be back next Tuesday, but until then, you can always check out more of what we’re doing at Our School at Home. We’d love to hear your thoughts!