Thursday, October 1, 2009

The road to freedom.

So why does a qualified teacher with ten years teaching experience decide to home school? This is a question I get asked often. To give one complete answer is impossible. I have realised that part of this home schooling journey involves change and as I have mentioned before, sometimes daily change!

To put it simply I will say that it has grown on me! And this is how.....

Four and a half years ago I left the secure, organized, curriculum based institution of teaching to give birth to our little girl. I knew at the time that I would not be returning to the classroom for a while. I resigned from teaching other people's children to become the sole educator of my own child.
During my last year I was asked by a parent, whose older daughter I had taught, what did I think of home schooling? Without hesitation I replied: I would seriously consider it for my child, she shouldn't be concerned about her own abilities, go for it! (To this day I'm not sure why I gave such a supportive answer!)
Never the less a seed was planted.

We have friends who are blessed with four beautiful children who have felt that it is the Lord's will that they home school their children. At the time of my daughter's birth they had three children under the age of five. They weren't following any curriculum then but the desire was there. Knowing that they were interested gave me someone to go to, to ask my first few tentative questions. Basically the answer was: The Lord had given her the desire and she felt that for her children to be a blessing to others it was her responsibility to train them up in the way they should go.  For me that was both overwhelming and awesome at the same time! She desired to do it?! She actually wanted to be with her children 24/7! She thought her children could be a blessing for others because of how she trained them?! WOW! What a responsibility!

I will interject here to say that I now realise that: The Lord can change our heart (and it's desires) and that only by grace and the guidance of the Holy Spirit do we learn how to train up our children in the Lord's ways.

And so the roots begin to grow....

Spending everyday with my daughter brought both many trials and many blessings. After the initial shock of becoming a parent, I settled into the awestruck role of observer, encourager and milestone recorder. While teaching I had been witness to many children who, because of poor gross and fine motor development as babes, had struggled to cope within the school environment. Because of this I felt that it was important to encourage Jenna (my daughter) to develop her gross motor skills (sitting, crawling, walking, climbing) and in turn her fine motor skills (holding small objects, building block towers, feeding herself). It was during this time that I started to realize that the more that I exposed her to the more she was eager to learn. There was no formal teaching happening, just life. From an early age she became a member of the library and she fell in love with books. We would often find her sitting on her “reading” chair looking over her favourite books.

I made a point of finding new and interesting places to explore together within our area. Often these places provided us with new learning opportunities. Visiting the farm animals not only helped her to recognize the animals we had been reading about in books but also provided us with the opportunity to overcome fears of new and loud sounds. I was learning about my child and she was learning about her world.

As she grew older I was amazed at her ability to retain new information and skills. We spent a lot of time outdoors playing, climbing and exploring new environments. I tried my best not to hold her back when faced by a new physical challenge and encouraged her to attempt anything she showed an interest in that would help her develop physically. I also believed that reading to her daily was a good way to enrich and grow her vocabulary and knowledge.
All this time I kept thinking to myself: If my child can retain so much information just from daily life experiences and lots of being read to, then why can't all children? This is what I had longed for in teaching: learning through life experiences and not creating life experiences to learn from! 

My child rearing philosophy at this stage of her life was: As her parents we could expose her to what we felt was important and we would be there to help her to learn how to face her challenges.
Around about this time I fell pregnant with my second child and another very dear friend and I decided to "school" our children together in her "classroom" garage.