Are you considering homeschooling or unschooling, but aren’t sure where to start?
I know it can feel overwhelming. At least, it did for us, particularly when Kaya turned 5 and was officially Kindergarten age. We had purchased a somewhat Waldorf-inspired curriculum for her that I thought we could loosely follow, but it was so overwhelming I basically had a panic attack, and we decided to find another way to teach.
If you’ve read some of our other posts, you know we’re not a fan of labels. I feel that they’re inadequate for most things in life, especially in home education, when the focus should be more about doing what’s right for our family and less about impressing others with our homeschooling choice.
But because we don’t follow a set curriculum and use various home education theories and styles, we could be considered unschoolers or eclectic homeschoolers. We value learning by doing, and take a slow-learning approach that’s Waldorf-inspired.
We’re combining several different methods to teach Kaya how to read and write. She has a reading program she follows called Reading Eggs, and she reads to us from the Bobs Books everynight. Reading Eggs has accompanying worksheets that are super helpful too, and she does the sheet that accompanies each lesson daily. We will be adding copywork to the mix soon, which is inspired from Charlotte Mason, and as Kaya’s writing ability grows, she will start doing notebooking, which is akin to journaling. And every evening, either Billy or myself read to Kaya before bed.
While they’re are numerous benefits to slow-learning, there can be immense pressure from society to have kids learn to read quickly and be on advanced levels of math and such at an early age. Waldorf education starts teaching children to read at around age 7, and unschoolers sometimes learn to read even later then that. This can lead to family members not understanding or being supportive because they compare what your child is doing to that of a kid in public or private school, and assume you’re doing something wrong.
In reality, there are various forms other educational theories, some which emphasize learning at a slower pace, and others, at a faster one.
I personally believe it really depends on the child and what works best for them. I was an early reader, and my husband struggled with it until he was older. We both ended up as writers, and he even has a degree in writing, so despite our differences, we basically arrived at the same place!
My sister homeschooled her three kids in a more traditional route, and perhaps because she is a scientist ( with a phD in chemistry), they are all very adept at advanced math and science, and one or two of them are studying medicine at University.
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Homeschooling in a holistic way is going to look different in every household. We like to have structure in our daily education plan, which may be very different than many ‘unschoolers’. We also plan our days around Kaya’s extracurricular activities, such as her robotics classes and taekwondo, as well as when she goes to play with friends or at the various playrooms in Chiang Mai.
When Kaya gets older and we’ve finally moved to Canada, we’ll go on more field trips to museums and such, and dive deep into reading the classics together. Thomas Jefferson Education talks about the various learning phases children go through, and the scholar phase ( where they get into more academic subjects) is during the teen years, and this is something we plan of somewhat following, although we may get more academic sooner. There learning philosophy is very similar to Waldorf in how the early years are focused on play and home-life, and developing a curiosity for the world. This is the phase we’re currently in.
For now, we worldschool by traveling within South East Asia. Worldschooling is a concept that’s basically learning from the world around you, or it can be used to describe combining unschooling and travel. We talk about our journey as worldschoolers ( in the travel sense) on our other blog.