Holistic Homeschooling: How we unschool

 

Unschooling: a holistic form of education driven by a child's interests and unique way of learning.

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.

 

 

Balancing working from home and homeschooling

How to balance working from home and homeschooling your kids!

My husband and I feel both very blessed to be able to work from home. Initially, it was me that began the entrepreneurial and freelancing path, having both a writing business and being a coach/consultant. But around 4 years ago, my husband ended up working from home too, which has been such a blessing!

You may be considering working from home and are wondering how to balance it with homeschooling your little ones, or perhaps you already do work from home and are thinking about home education. For us personally, it’s been generally very easy to balance the two.

Because we ‘unschool’ and don’t follow a set curriculum, we have a lot of flexibility. My husband works at night and I work a few hours in the evening and a few during the day, which means we take turns watching Kaya. She goes to robotics classes for four hours during the weekend, and has two taekwondo classes during the weekdays, so we schedule our work around driving her to her classes. This has been difficult during the weekday because it’s right when my husband has orders due for work, and because I lost my driver’s license somewhere back when we lived in Korea, I can’t drive here ( nor do I want to as the traffic in Chiang Mai is cray cray!).

If you are doing a classical form of home education, you will probably need more structure to your daily schedule. For Kaya, we’ve focused on using the Reading Eggs program ( highly recommend it!) for teaching her how to read, plus we used the Bob’s Books to have her read to us every evening. Reading Eggs has both an online video-based program as well as accompanying worksheets. She typically does the online part in the morning, and the worksheets when she goes out with her Father during the day ( when I get in some time to get client work finished).

If you’re a single parent or the only one in your household that’s home-based during the day, balancing working from home and homeschooling can be a challenge. My top suggestion is to go easy on yourself.  You don’t have to pick the hardest, most advanced curriculum available nor have your kids in loads of activities. A few suggestions:

+ Find a family-friendly restaurant that’s open during the day and take your kids there to play and have lunch while you’re doing some work

+ Find out if there’s a homeschool coop in your area

+ When your kids are at any extracurricular activities ( or classes), get as much work done as possible

+ Ask a friend if they can bring your kids to any shared classes so you can use that time to work ( or for self-care)

+ Wake up early so you can get work done before your kids get up

 

If you’re completely new to the concept of working from home and aren’t sure where to begin, take some time to ask  yourself what your strengths are, and how much time you have each day to devote to your home-based biz or freelancing career. You can still work from home and only work a few hours a day, but you need to be SUPER FOCUSED both when you start and market your biz, and also when you start working during the day.

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Challenges To Working From Home

Which brings me to one of the top challenges my husband and I have faced: being interrupted when we work.

Because our computer and workspace is located in the living room ( worst idea ever), we’re right next to the TV, and Kaya prefers playing down here to going and playing in her room. Billy and I share a desktop computer, and my Mac is quite damaged and old ( going to get a new laptop soon) so I can’t really use it for work as some of the keys are broken. This is what lead us to working out the schedule where Billy goes out with Kaya to do homeschooling worksheets while I get in an hour or two to use the desktop.

After we get home from running errands in the evening, I usually take Kaya upstairs to watch Are You Afraid of the Dark on my Mac while I start making dinner, so Billy can get some work done. We then either all eat upstairs ( because we’re strange) or in the living room, and either Billy puts Kaya to bed and I get a little more work in, or I put her to bed and go to bed too.

Our schedule may sound strange, but it works for us and is the perfect balance!

Do you work from home and homeschool? If so, how have you balanced the two? Leave a comment down below and let us know!