I apoligize for those who may have come to this post thinking it is praise for Academics in homeschool. That is not what this post is about. This is about the positive things that your homeschool could have which academics can possibly prevent from happening.
My definition of “Homeschool Academics” is:
Formal teaching by the homeschool mom or homeschool teacher (if in a co-op) usually by subject, such as math, science, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, geography, history, careers, p.e., health, art, music, theater, dance and library sciences. These are usually learned one subject at a time at a certain “grade level.” They are usually taught either by specific planned curricula, usually via books, workbooks, assigned projects and so forth. Much of it is also memorization, copying and reciting. Sometimes there are field trips and videos. Sometimes even hands-on things are done to aid with the learning. Some or all of it could be fun and made just right for the learning style of the child. There is usually an assignment, project or quiz given to the child to do to aid with and show the learning. This “work” that is completed which has evidence is many times useless to anyone except for possibly as scrapbooking material for evidence in portfolios to show that this “work” has been done. More than 90 percent of this fodder is, or should be, recycled because otherwise it would overrun the house, giving nobody a place to sit, sleep or eat. About 10 percent of it is wonderful, beautiful and unique. Usually the homeschool academics are so rough on the kids that they need a formal recess, a formal lunchbreak, a formal starting and stopping time, formal days of the week when “homeschool” is done and formal summer, spring, fall and winter breaks, just like they would have in school.
Most homeschool families, at least the ones I know of, started out nearly 90 percent of the time using the “homeschool academics” methods. Most homeschool families I know about don’t keep doing it more than a year. This is for those in their first year who have maybe “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be.”
My definition of “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be” is:
You have just begun to realize that using the “formal school structure, curriculum, schedules and methods” is not required, that nobody is going to check up on you and shut down your little homeschool and that your kids learn more watching television and playing than they do from your “homeschool academics” lessons. (Perhaps this is frustrating to you). You have possibly also noted that having your own children raise their hands to ask you whether they can use the bathroom is pretty silly. (That one is a chapter from our own starting out story). There is a very slight possibility that by now you have also had conversations with some seasoned homeschoolers. These people who have homeschooled for a few years and have stopped using so many of the “homeschool academics” methods. Possibly, you have even met a mother who told you, “We unschool.” I am sure you asked her what that was, so I will not tell you in this post. (If you have not met such a person, you will, or you can google it).
Now I will move on to what homeschool academics will likely prevent, with a story.
A couple weeks ago, we were thrown a new learning curveball. It was very unexpected and unplanned. We were out in the back yard peeling polyetheline tape off of cardboard boxes so that we could use those as weed barriers to start our “Back to Eden Garden.” Suddenly we heard very loud wings flapping with fervor. A large raptor was chasing a dove. The raptor had knocked the dove out of the tree first. It was so surprising that we all screamed loudly, scaring the raptor away. Then we had a limping, flightless dove hopping around the yard with cowardice, looking so afraid that we tried to feed it. Then we started to worry about the CAT. Oh, dear. Poor helpless bird. We did not want this lovely bird killed by a cat.
We made a couple phone calls and then we had a very scary mission: to pick the bird up with a towel and put him in a box, then take him in to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. (My sister-in-law did this with our little bit of help. Our hero!) Little did we know, that was just the beginning. We went to a volunteer training meeting and today, my son and I were in volunteer training there for 3 hours. We learned as much as I learned in one whole week in a class in college. I cannot even put it all into words, and that was just in three hours’ time. We plan to continue and next week my daughter will be in training, too. They will learn more than any school kid could possibly be learning at the same time sitting in school.
Now let me say something about this. If we had been inside doing academics and not outside ripping tape off from cardboard boxes, this opportunity for EXTREME LEARNING opportunity never would have presented itself. We would still not even know that this place exists. By the way, they told us that the bird who chased the bird out of the tree was a Cooper’s Hawk and that the dove is a Eurasian Collard Dove. The dove is now being treated by being fed from a tube. He has a popping sound when he breathes which indicates he has internal injuries. His wings work fine but he is too injured internally to be able to fly.
Once a week as part of our learning, we will go in and volunteer there. This will be a great opportunity for my kids to learn service, hard work, introducation to veterinary science, biology and medical care for injured wild animals (mostly birds). I think even the “academic homeschooling” moms would love to have their kids doing things like this for learning, but I do not think they will find such opportunities in their communities until they slow down the academics and start working their way into the adventurous side which is called “unschooling.”