When we started homeschooling the children were ages 9, 6 and 2 . At first my mind set was to teach/present the subjects to them vey much like how I was taught. About 2 years after we started we had a new baby in the family and between breastfeeding, changing diapers, catching up on sleep etc it wasn't possible for me to be available to teach/present/work on the subject the way thought I should. Instead of feeling low, I started asking myself:
Why do I even have to do all the things I think I should do?
What really mattered to me when I was child?
When was I happiest? What was memorable?
What am I interested in? As oppose to, what should we be learning?
From my answers, I felt I can relax and so I lessened my goal and told myself that I will just read one book in the afternoon for all 3 children since I have a newborn to care for and I do need my rest. We became laid back and the kids played a lot and did a bit of math. Until our baby was about a year old and things became more predictable.
What are the advantages?
There's no prodding needed. Each child can go as far as they want with a given topic/subject and because of that I have less to do. They are motivated because they are interested. I think now that I became respectful of where my children are in that season of their lives. I think it was at this time that I saw how the what ifs of the larger world can be momentarily cast aside. I also discovered that I have forgotten how to play for the sake of playing and how liberating it was to be included in a make believe game that isn't really going anywhere. Yes, it was a melancholy way for me to waste time. I could have organised my table or clean my drawers but instead I played a make believe game for the whole morning. I remembered the games I had with my playmates and my sister and I hope my kids will remember that I played with them. They were dead serious when they told me to say silly lines and reminded me to change the way I talk so I can stay in character.
Is there a downside to this approach?
Yes, something's always got to give no matter how good the deal is. I notice that my kids can go in-depth with subjects they are interested in but can abandon subjects that they don't like. I have also been asked; what if what they want to learn is wrong?
What about the core subjects like Math, Science, Language Arts, Filipino?
Subjects sort of intertwine. Example, when my eldest daughter was into ballet she read human anatomy and was well verse with dancers' injury , etc., She also knows a lot about Russia than anybody in our house. Let's take a look at the core subjects mentioned:
I am not good in Math and my kids know this. Early on we established that this is a subject that must be done. No matter how slow or fast, we will do it. The only way I can think of doing math is through baking but I am not creative enough to expand this. So, I rely on workbooks.
We don't do science every year. It's very sporadic. My 12 year old daughter did grade 3 science earlier last year but lost interest. The 3 times I bought science materials, they were not maximised unless I initiate. Its a bit different for high school, my eldest did Biology and Chemistry. My second child who is currently in Manila wrapping up her grade 10 did Biology and is now doing Chemistry. I hope she goes ahead and do Physics. I did Physics and I don't even know how I passed.
For Language Arts, we don't have it every year. I read aloud to my children and my 16 year old reads to my 8 year old (before she left for Manila).
We don't do Filipino at all. I feel certain that if I forced it, I will just ruin it for them. I am surprised that my eldest who is now in university and has never been taught Filipino as a subject is considering minoring in Filipino now. I tried doing Filipino, but it always went nowhere. I would buy a book then read the first 2 to 5 pages then we somehow forget it exists. My eldest learned Filipino when she attended the ALS review. I had Filipino in school and again I don't know how I levelled up. I just did.
Although geography was not mentioned as a core subject, I think a geography workbook will be really fun, but we are still waiting for the Geography Book my son and I ordered last September in Book Depository. It's still not here to date!!!
In my next post, I will be answering this question: How far do you take "interest-led" learning? Do you pursue every interest your child mentions to you?