We are a homeschooling family of three. My husband works out of the home as a pianist and composer who produces pedagogy books for the Piano Adventures series and teaches a few lessons on the side. I have the great fortune of staying home to homeschool our exceptional son, and review books for Booklist on the side. This blog is about our homeschooling journey, about things that are important to our family, and sometimes about things that are important to just me, like running, reading, gardening, or photography.
I suppose our homeschooling journey started the day our son was born, but the decision was officially made around the time we started looking into preschools. Prior to that time we'd always assumed that we'd follow the contemporary path spread out before us and so many others. But days of pure joy watching our son explore and learn, coupled with a growing concern over changes in preschool methodology, led me to the library where I checked out book after book on Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, Montessori, and the like. It was the organic approaches that drew me, the gentler learning methods. We were sold. We rearranged our plans for the future.
Through the years our choice has been increasingly validated. Although our son has never been tested, he has proven himself an exceptional learner who has a little trouble focusing. He learns quickly and adeptly, but has difficulty sitting still, keeping his hands still, and monitoring his response to stimuli. In a classroom he might be considered gifted, he might be considered difficult, or he might be considered both. I cringe at labels, but the term that is used with growing regularity is twice exceptional. It makes us even more certain that our decision to school at home was the right one.
Through our son's early years, we approached learning with the beautiful, holistic methods that drew us to homeschooling in the first place. We left off the electronics and spent our days with books, blocks, music, and paint. When it was warm enough we were always outside in nature. We still do much of this, but through the years our methods have changed. What began as purely organic in the preschool years melded into an unschooling approach in the early elementary years, and has now, as we near the mid-elementary years, become a blend of classical education and child led learning.
With the challenges of a learner who is clearly gifted and overly busy and emotive, both he and I benefit greatly from the predictability of a schedule. That's where the classical curriculum comes in, and that's how we spend our mornings. We spend our afternoons playing games, being outside, or following a project whim of his own. I want our son to be in charge of his learning, and I try to make sure we are always involved in at least one venture of his choosing. Plus he helps me select curriculum and make plans when it comes time. I ask his opinion and advice wherever possible, and I try to give him as much wiggle room as possible while still engendering a modicum of focus.
It is a learning process for all of us, one that, most of the time, we all enjoy immensely.