Your fantasy homeschool
Image by stewartde
Each of us has one: the fantasy homeschool that lives inside our heads. I asked convention attendees one time to shout out words they associated with their fantasy homeschools. They suggested words like:
activities that teach
going new places
trying new things
You might have other words in mind. Some of mine were:
includes nature and art study
lessons for things like violin, vintage dance, and acting Shakespeare
everyone reads for pleasure
we all get along
days have order but aren’t so structured that we feel oppressed
Flesh out in your own mind (perhaps on paper) the fantasy homeschool you want to have. You might envision how your family feels about homeschool first and then discover that you also have specific scenarios playing in you mind’s eye. For instance, you might want relaxed, happy family interactions, and you also see everyone on the couch cuddling while watching a movie.
You might imagine children eagerly solving their own problems as they face a math challenge or reading for pleasure hours a day.
Perhaps you have a fantasy that a whole week will go by and no one will complain because everyone feels that he or she has had a satisfying week of play and work.
We can’t force our children to be happy and we can’t require them to eagerly learn anything (frustrating, isn’t it?). But what we can do is create a context that gives our fantasy homeschool the best chance to emerge and flourish. Practice this summer, when the pressure is off and you don’t need to “finish” anything.
For instance, when you see your children happy, take note of the conditions that created it. Were they well rested and fed? Were they in comfortable clothes? Were they engaged with something new? Look at all the factors.
Consider how you might ensure the success of one of your fantasies. If you want to introduce art, would it be better to introduce it with an outing or with tools (like paints and brushes or clay)? If you would love your children to explore nature, what conditions create the happiest campers? Snacks, early morning, good night’s sleep preceding, stuff to track or look for on the trail?
Use this summer to test-float your aspirations. Find out what happens when you play with math manipulatives and no textbook. What happens when you take time to read to yourself each day after lunch? Does anyone join you?
Go to the art museum without an agenda. Go to the movies in the afternoon. Is that fun? Wouldn’t that be great to do once in a while when it’s not summer?
If you want your fantasies to come true, take it a step at a time and live them out. Summer is a great time to play with what works since most of us are habituated from school to think that we can relax and not worry about “schoolish things.” You can flip the script and use summer to explore what kind of homeschool you really want to live.
Focus on joy and exploration.
Be good to you too. Your happiness matters just as much as your kids’.
Cross-posted on facebook.