After posting an article about home-schooling on Facebook, I was asked how my children would be educated. Right now Harmony is only six weeks old, but we’re already thinking about her future education. I haven’t had a lot of time to write lately, what with being a new mother and all the happiness and challenges that entails, but here are some of my thoughts.
First, I believe that people of all ages are natural learners. They are created to be inquisitive, explorative, experimental, knowledge-seeking discoverers. Babies are born wanting to learn about their world, progressing from helpless infants to walking, talking toddlers, who become children eager to participate in the excitements that life offers. Harmony doesn’t need to take classes to learn how to crawl… it will happen on its own. She will learn her first words by imitating the voices of those around her. We’ve already seen how much she observes her world. She is certainly eager to join it as soon as possible!
Second, I believe that children are naturally curious. I’ve never seen a child who wasn’t interested in SOMETHING, even if they’d never been to an institutional school. After only one semester of public school at age eight (it was my decision to enroll), I begged my mom to let me come home again. Thankfully, she fully supported my wish to home-school, and I never went to a formal school again until college. At that age, rather than being interested in academics, I loved music, geology, books, gardening with my mom, making crafts, cats, dogs, guitars, bird songs, making up stories, pretend games, and spending as much time as possible up in trees. I would often spending hours exploring these subjects by myself or with friends. I didn’t see it as formal “learning”, though; it was fun, play, and a beautiful childhood experience. Harmony will hopefully have the same opportunity as I did to discover her own interests and find out what talents she has.
Third, I believe that everyone deserves to follow their own personal educational path. School supposedly is meant to give a student the skills they need to get a job and support themselves in life. But is that all education is? I don’t have enough time to delve into this question. Let me just say that I believe a person’s career may not always involve their talents, because unfortunately not everyone has their dream job; yet everyone has unique abilities that they can utilize, develop, and appreciate for personal development. I want to raise Harmony with the mindset that while a job will eventually be necessary, learning is a life-long affair that can and should be enjoyed. Formal education may end, but gaining wisdom and knowledge doesn’t have to.
What does this mean practically for our daughter’s education?
Chris and I already know that we want to home-school her… at least for a while. Just as I chose to attend public school at age eight, we’d be open to allowing Harmony more choices in her educational experience as she matures. I began taking classes with other home-schooled children when I was eleven, such as science (I loved the lab experiments), American history, essay writing, YMCA sports classes, worldview critique, etc. There are certainly opportunities like these for Harmony to consider when she gets older.
When Harmony turns three or four, we’ll probably look for a local home-school group to join. Having a like-minded community is so wonderful, both for home-schooling parents and their children. I still have fond memories of my own friends from the home-school group I joined after my semester at public school. Our fun days in the park, the field trips together, study groups, holiday parties, “secret pal” gift exchanges, camping trips, and many, many play dates at each other’s houses gave us PLENTY of opportunity for socialization, with all different ages. Anyone who says that home-schooled children are “missing out on socialization” isn’t taking the vast majority of home-schoolers into consideration, and that’s all I’ll say about that subject!
While I want to make sure Harmony has every opportunity and resource to study academic subjects, there’s no need to push her to begin at the designated age of six when children are ordered to begin their “formal” education in kindergarten. I’m not in a hurry for Harmony to learn how to read or write or do math. If she wants to read at age four like Chris and I did, that’s great! If she doesn’t quite understand long division and basic algebra until she is thirteen or fourteen (like me), then we’ll gently help her along until she is able to tackle them. Children deserve parents and teachers who support their specific learning needs, giving them time to delve into academics at their own pace. Childhood is short enough without adults forcing young people into formal education too soon.
I don’t exactly fall into the unschooler’s camp, but I definitely see myself being more of a relaxed home-schooling parent. Academic prowess is less important to me than enabling Harmony to seek wisdom, grow in character, possess practical skills, explore her dreams, practice justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
There’s waaaaaaaaay more I’d like to say about this, but Harmony is waking up now! Baby time!