Sunday, February 16, 2014

Freedom in Definition

Recently I learned that I fit into a category.  Typically I am not one for labels, but I did find this a bit interesting; even a little freeing to a certain extent.  Never in a million years could I have ever imagined all the drastic twists and turns I would travel through traversing the road of my life.  I especially could have never begun to guess that there would even be a few corkscrews along the way.  Who knew, right?

Years ago I looked forward to this stage of my life with great anticipation.  It was going to be a time to reclaim my childhood.  I would explore what it truly meant to be me.  Maybe I would volunteer full-time for a local organization I wholeheartedly believed in.  Maybe I would continue my education.  I've always wanted to learn photography "for real".  Surely I would have plenty of time to really invest in my relationship with each of my grandchildren.

The first hairpin turn was our decision to adopt.  Okay. So we're raising one kid all on his own.  So what?   We raised seven already.  What's one?  It was like a vacation those first couple years; a breath of fresh air.  Then, the best fur buddy I ever had died, we moved, and we started becoming aware that things were going to dramatically change again.

Suddenly the track shot up, the cars turned upside down, and we pulled out the other side with two more children in our car.  This meant lots of changes, big emotions, and slow adjustments for everyone.  Our slow acclimation to becoming a homeschooling family again quickly turned into a quick dive into the deep waters head first.  The water was cold and shocking, but you know the story.  We adjusted.

I have never been a traditional homeschooler.  For a while I considered myself very much an unschooler.  This time around it seemed smartest to implement a full curriculum.  We started our fully anticipating using this curriculum through graduation.  It's perfect, covers everything important to us, and takes a huge load off of my shoulders in the planning department.  As the completion of this first year started to come into view on the horizon I prepared to purchase the next level.  Well, I hesitated.  I read what was next, and I just wasn't so sure we really needed to do it that way anymore.  You see, my favorite aspect of homeschooling is FREEDOM.  I LOVE IT!!!

Spring is coming.  There is so much for us to learn together.  We will be starting seeds, planning a garden, preparing to raise animals, building structures, manicuring our woods more, landscaping, camping, and I have a TON of educational supplies already (like any good homeschooling veteran would).  So, why not use what I have?

Enter me learning exactly who I am educationally speaking.  I had to take a brief demographic survey that required me to choose specifically what type of homeschooling family we are.  I had no clue.  Like I said, I don't concern myself with labels and categories when it comes to this type of thing.  Because, in all honesty, does it really matter?  I don't think so.  However, as soon as I looked up "eclectic" and read this:

"An Eclectic Homeschooler is one who looks at the different approaches and methods of homeschooling and takes from each forming his own unique philosophy."

...I knew it defined my style exactly.  Slowly, I have determined that it is now okay to ease back into our more relaxed approach to education.  Our resident elementary student is still warming to the idea that grade level is irrelevant, and grades are arbitrary, but she's getting there.  Taking what I consider a more "whole-life" approach to education will help her to lose some more of her guard and open up to becoming a more relaxed learner.  It is exciting to me!

Yes, being eclectic means a little more work on my part, but I really think I'm ready for it now.  I have the materials at my fingertips.  I need to purchase nothing.  So, why not?  This next year is looking much more inviting to me and even a little more easy.  I have been lamenting the fact that I have two preschoolers and an elementary student; not an easy mix.  With my new found freedom it will be much easier to cater to the individual needs and interests of each child.  I like preschool.  Now, I will be able to enjoy it more.  Therefor the kids will certainly have much more fun.

Does this mean we will never use curriculum again?  I certainly have my doubts.  However, it does mean we have found our niche.  We are grabbing life by the reigns and fully embracing the family we have become.  We know who we are, and we are running with it.


Anonymous said...

Awesome, Tina! It's great to hear your excitement about the upcoming year! :)

Tina Smith said...

Thanks! It's so freeing.

Linda said...

I am also an eclectic homeschooler. Do I use a core curriculum? Yep! (Time4Learning) and I love that it plans lessons and records for me. That way I know the basics are covered. The eclectic part comes in with all the "stuff" we add. The "stuff" we add to homeschooling, outside of the core curriculum, is what makes homeschooling such an adventure! I have to agree, the freedom to do what we want, what we need, and what we choose is amazing. I hope your newest chapter in homeschooling is an amazing adventure. Happy homeschooling!

Tina Smith said...

Thanks, Linda, for sharing what you do. I seem to be caught in an internal tug of war in regard to curriculum. For now, we celebrate that we completed the one we were using (My Father's World), and we plan to move forward without one...for now. I loved the freedom it gave us having everything laid out with the built in flexibility to add our own activities as well as remove what didn't fit at the time. You just never know what may be around the corner, do you? I guess that's part of the fun and adventure.


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