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(Not) Back to School

It's official. As the sidewalk fills with students walking to the school on our block, we are choosing to homeschool. Mixed Feelings

Until a few years ago, I judged that homeschooling was crazy and relegated to people who want to indoctrinate their child in some religion. I feel that same judgment now from some with whom I share our choice. Thanks to friends who homeschool and the books they've recommended, I now believe homeschooling is a good fit for us. I still feel like an outsider to the 'normal world' by taking on home education.

Most of Lil's friends are starting kindergarten and her social options are changing. Because I generally hang out with the parents of her friends, my social life is changing too. I like my current friends. I don't want to extend my neck and make new relationships, yet I know this will all work out.

On the very day I mailed our notice to homeschool, we were notified that Lil's lottery number came up and she could go to the informal school down the street. I hesitated but ultimately declined the opportunity.

Why We Homeschool

Alex and I have good reasons to homeschool and do believe it is best for our family right now. Here's why:

I am an experienced teacher. I am confident in my ability to produce learning opportunities for Lil. I like exercising my brain in this way.

Alex, too, excitedly does experiments with Lil. They recently discovered together that a simple aluminum foil airplane flies just about as well as a paper one. Next, they will approach how to build a house. They will use the study to design and create our new chicken coop.

Columbus has amazing experiences for young minds. When homeschooling, we can take advantage of our many great parks, museums, and programs when they are least crowded during the week. Many of these resources are now offering homeschool specific classes that we will take advantage of as well.

With no responsibility to attend daily school, we can take full advantage of travel opportunities. Alex travels for business every few months and we hope to accompany him on domestic and international trips. We are also planning short driving trips to further explore the Midwest.

How We Homeschool

We are generally following an unschooling way of home education. This means that we follow Lil's lead about what she wants to learn and use life experiences to teach academic skills.

We began 'practicing' homeschooling in December of 2010. With a simple mental shift, we started accepting responsibility for Lil's education. We interrupt daily routines to explicitly explain is happening and challenge Lil. For example, I recently showed her how to read a nutrition label in the grocery store. I challenge her to find the difference in nutrients between two brands.

I set up a homeschool shelf in our dining room for more formal education. I gathered four baskets and filled them with math manipulatives, writing supplies, science tools, and art supplies. A file box holds workbooks, lined paper, graph paper, and a dry erase board. Lil and I work on writing and math from these resources every day.

The shelf also holds a three ring binder with plastic sleeves. I periodically insert stories that Lil writes, pages of math work, and brochures from our travels. This binder will serve as documentation for the certified teacher who will review Lil's progress at the end of the year. Lil and I also like to page through it to see how well she is learning.

As far as socialization, the primary argument against homeschooling for many, I have no concerns. We eat dinner and play with family and friends three to four times a week. Lil will see friends at classes, play dates, and around the neighborhood.

Homeschooling on the Blog

I promise not to change the direction of Hounds in the Kitchen but I will be including some more homeschool-related material. I have several posts in the works about field trips that are exciting and educational for families and those without children. I am starting a website redesign process that will hopefully allow me to create separate feeds for the basic categories of the blog so you can completely ignore the homeschooling posts (or feed on them only) soon.

Thanks for reading my thoughts on homeschooling. Take a gander at Lil's ideas if you wish. Are you back to school?