A Home-school Manifesto (and How to Build a Home-school Group from Scratch)

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Well, here begins another step of the journey.

A new friend and I are building a home-school group together from scratch. It’s not that there aren’t large and small home-schooling groups and co-ops and resources in our (very large) city already, but we just haven’t found one that fits what we’re looking for. Yes, there are Christian home-school groups. Yes, there are smaller, more relational groups. Yes, there are co-ops for toddlers and young children. But I haven’t found any that are specifically for families who follow attachment/gentle parenting standards. Or that are also geared towards pre-preschoolers without being more of a structured class setting.

As Christian, gentle parenting families with toddlers, what we really want is a group of like-minded folks who are in it for a place where people can build relationships, get to know each other and build community, celebrate holidays, offer support to each other, and let our kids play together like kids should at this young age. Simply, our desire is for a group that is more relationally-based instead of academically-based. As our children mature, we will begin considering various academic curricula and supplementary resources for them, yet still want to have the community of the home-school group, for many reasons.

With all that in mind, we formulated a charter for the home-school group. Three of the biggest things that helped me articulate all the points here are 1) my own experience as a home-schooler, 2) my and my friend’s goals for our families, and 3) a lot of advice from other home-schooling and former home-schooling parents whom I personally know. Stay tuned for another post soon where I’ll share some of the amazing words written by them, because their wisdom is too awesomely helpful to keep to myself!

Besides having a brief statement of faith that encompasses general denominations of Christianity (we didn’t want to be exclusively one denomination or theology), we also have this guide below for our beliefs as a group of families involved in a home-schooling group, and then a more specific outline of what we hope to be as home-schooling parents as our children grow.

Over the years, maybe some of the wording will change. Maybe our goals will take a different direction academically, or we’ll find that something needs to be altered in the guidelines. That’s the beauty of building your own education: you aren’t constrained forever by an outside standard! You can work through difficulties and repair and restore and reform your goals according to the needs of your own child, while the community of your home-school group, with friends who are walking the same walk, ensures that you don’t have to do it alone.

Let’s see where this journey leads!

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We believe that our role as parents is a beautiful, sacred gift from God, who has allowed us time with our children to bring them up with love. As Christians, we seek to raise our children with the teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Bible.

We believe that Jesus was the perfect example for us of a gentle, firm, and compassionate teacher. We trust in Him to help us through our weaknesses, strengthen us in our gifts, guide us through our mistakes, comfort us in our troubles, and grow in our understanding, just as we hope to do for our own children.

We believe in attachment parenting, gentle parenting, and supportive parenting. Our methods of discipline may vary, but we all lean towards these parenting styles.

We know that all families are different. The role of technology in your home, food and diet rules, bedtime schedules, curriculum choices, extracurricular classes, etc. are up to the discretion of your own family. We are all doing the best we can with what we have! While we don’t have to validate another’s choices, it’s better to respectfully, kindly disagree than tear each other down because of little things that don’t involve your own family. We value honesty, but we also value compassion and courtesy! Be kind with your words!

We want to build a network of good relationships. Our children need friendships, and so do we as their parents! We want our children to enjoy interactions with others regardless of age or intended grade. We hope to build deeper relationships with each other so that we can learn together, learn from each other, celebrate the good times, support each other through the hard times, and raise our children together as they grow over the years.

Our toddler and preschoolers’ learning will be child-led with parental guidance. As our children are very young, we are focused not on workbooks, sitting at a desk, standing in a line, or rote memorization, but on helping them develop as persons, with the appropriate skills and abilities of a toddler or preschooler. At this age, learning should be fun, interactive, and play-based with plenty of crafts, outdoor time, books that they enjoy, unstructured play, creativity, hands-on activities, and introductions to new concepts. 

As our children get older, our goals will naturally change! Here is a more detailed guide to what we hope to be as home-schooling parents. Our goal is to:

~ Instruct our child(ren) so that they will have the ability and desire to embark on their life-long journey of seeking God, understanding themselves, loving others, and hungering for truth.

~ Trust our children to be active in their own education. They are the ones who will ultimately decide what to do with their lives, and their innate curiosity, energy, abilities, and talents will be key factors in their personal educational path.

~ Help our child(ren) discover their gifts and strengths in whatever area they choose to explore. We want to impart that learning can be done for the love of learning, not just because it is a chore or necessity. More importantly, though, we want our child(ren) to know that we love them for who they are, not for what they can do.

~ Develop individual academic paths based on the abilities, interests, and personality of each child so that they can best learn how to love beauty, how to think outside the box, how to think logically, how to gain understanding for themselves, how to express themselves, how to learn from the past so that they can become aware of the future, why things work the way they do, how to do practical mathematics, and how to succeed with practical life skills. Click here for more thoughts about these subjects.

~ Provide a supportive environment for our child(ren) to study, explore, investigate, research, learn, and experiment. We will encourage age/maturity-appropriate learning (regardless of assigned “grade levels”), letting our children take risks, be curious, and develop their skills and judgement. While the eventual desire is for the child to be an independent, capable learner, we will always give them safety and instruction in their studies, in whatever form we deem necessary for the child(ren)’s personal well-being. We will provide resources, encourage mentorship, and give access to supplementary educational options as the child matures.

~ Focus on the development of the child as a whole person who is creative, expressive, passionate about what they love, resourceful, hard working, and wise, keeping in mind the end goal of a person who is healthy in mind, body, and soul. Education happens not only at a desk, but also in the kitchen, in the garden, at the store, out in nature, with friends, with a parent, by ourselves. The world is at our doorstep just waiting to be explored!

~ Remember that they are children, and seek to provide plenty of opportunities for play, rest, spontaneity, relationship, flexibility, conversation, and joy!

~ Guide our children with wisdom, appropriate discipline, and gentle parenting to help them establish positive character traits, including empathy, humility, loyalty, compassion, love, honesty, kindness, self-confidence, patience, generosity, self-discipline, gentleness, determination, self-control, and integrity.

~ Enjoy having our child(ren) with us every day! These moments and years pass quickly by. We hope to always keep in mind that impromptu dance parties, baking cookies, singing in the rain, dropping everything to play outside on a spring day, having late night talks over hot chocolate, snow days, taking the morning off to help a friend, weekend camping trips, and other sudden surprises give us time together to play and love and be, and those are the memories that will mean the most when we look back on our family’s life.

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