Our Journey This Far

by Tara M.

Our family’s educational journey has had a few twists and turns.  From the outside looking in you would think that it’s been smooth sailing.  We started homeschooling when our oldest was in preschool and that’s been nine years ago now.  Come to think of it, I should be up for tenure pretty soon. (As a kid, I thought that tenure only happened at ten-years.)

These years of education for my kids have also been a huge learning experience for me.  We started off following a Montessori/Charlotte Mason approach.  Some would call that natural learning.  We then switched to an online public school with set curriculum, teacher support, and accountability.  There were a lot fewer choices about what and when we learned.  After two and a half years of that, it was no longer working for us.  We found an online curriculum called Easy Peasy.  We really liked the balance of freedom and guidance that this curriculum provided.  This is our third year using Easy Peasy, but as the years go by, how we interact with the curriculum has morphed back into an eclectic, natural learning path.

The most recent change in approach was launched because as we were going through the motions of our daily work, there was very little spark or interest in what we were doing.  And as anyone might imagine, there was also plenty of pushback and complaining from the recipients of this wonderful education.

As I wondered if there was a better way or something I was missing, I went back to square one… my public library.  I’m not sure if this is normal, but our public library has one full bookshelf devoted solely to the homeschool teacher.  I went and checked out many of the same books that I had read when I first started.  But this time I was reading from a perspective of having nine years of experience under my own belt.

I perused the curriculum options, the strategies, the methods, the pedagogy (ten points for using a big word!), and the advice.  The thing that kept speaking to me was this concept of self-directed learning.  This was something I could really get behind, and with the understanding that I have at least one very strong-willed child at home, I thought, “This might just work.”

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject of self-directed learning.  I’m trying to figure out how this differs from natural learning, deschooling, or unschooling.  Of course, some of these questions are just a matter of terminology.  So, I guess what I’m really trying to do is find which principles from these different methods are going to serve our families needs and learning styles.  It really doesn’t matter too much what we call it as long as we are finding our path to learning how to learn.

This is the approach to our education that I feel is going to be the best for our family at this time.  At the same time, I am concerned about the uncertainty.  So much of the learning that happens in this format is just below the surface, undetectable.  That is why I have decided that keeping this blog of our “Stealth Learning” is going to be important.  This will help me and other adults involved (Dad… Mamaw…) at least somewhat informed about our learning progress.

If the past four weeks of our self-directed learning are any indication, I have a good feeling we are in for some excitement.

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