Parents Are Invaluable Teachers
I work closely with parents questioning the education their child is receiving in the wake of standardized learning. These numbers of parents are growing exponentially, along with their concerns. Parents currently involved with public and private mainstream education, are now considering learning environments beyond the strong current of core standards, that are more friendly on the pocket book, and encourage inquiry rather than indoctrination. This trend suggests an educational shift toward more organic and home grown approaches. The new school of thought is a resurgence from history, which parents today are re-evaluating for their own families. Compounded by the changing economy, these reflections on education display two directions, the one school classroom with at home options and on-line learning to alleviate high stakes test stress and unwarranted homework for their children. These directions also recognize the importance for college entrance requirements and foster strong family values.
By the time parents come to me with questions and concerns about education, I know they are well on their way to building a research base for making strong decisions for a new direction. I highlight the first lesson toward an organic, home grown approach to Include your children in your conversations, as it gives them ownership for the challenges ahead. Ownership is the pinnacle for organic and home grown education, valuing the child first through your quest of inquiry together. The renewed look of education sweeping our nation is a homeschool approach with a cooperative twist.
Homeschooling and cooperative settings present their own set of challenges and there is a wealth of information, resources and options available with the convenience of the internet; it can be easier to connect yet increasingly more difficult to decipher. From prepackaged curriculum, to eclectic collections of resources, to hiring teachers and tutors, finding enrichment courses and projects in your community, discovering the array of cooperative options available, a plethora of on-line choices, and/or becoming the teacher as a parent, time constraints, scheduling or de-scheduling, teaching tools…the information can become unwieldy. You may scream, Where do I start?
If your direction is to create and maintain salient learning opportunities to grow with your child, prepare for the paramount commitment and patience of your journey together. Families with children in the mainstream and discovering your choices, tend to experience a cycle of emotion. Be cognizant. Seek support. Know your resources.
I suggest the cycle for transition out of institutionalized education and into cooperatives and homeschooling options a cycle of emotion, actions and reactions, usually driven from your own personal fears and lack of self confidence for being the teacher. The second lesson toward an organic, home grown approach is to Remind yourself you are worthy of the position as a parent. I base this cycle for transition on my own experience and my current work with families. Like many of you reading this now, I discovered localized education values the child more, while federal interference subjects children to template learning and squashes teacher expertise. I began my transition eight years ago after more than a decade of public school service, as a teacher and administrator, and coupled with the new dynamic presented with the birth of my son. My husband and I chose the homeschool path. Together we experienced the fear, our reactions to it, and eventually validated our purpose for the success in our journey. I take the liberty here to coin the cycle of transition as stages according to their nature, both as I experienced them myself and in accordance with the dynamic of the committed families I have worked with for the past eight years. The Cycle of Transition is three stages 1) A Reality Check 2) Seeking Guidance; What Have I Committed To? and 3) Homeschooling or De-schooling; An Ongoing Process.
The number one misleading precursor parents fall victim when considering homeschool or cooperative options is focusing on the what rather then the why–they begin with curriculum research. Thorough research for the best curriculum plays a vital role representing the what and certainly individualizing instruction is one of the major reasons parents have chosen their new path, however, the result often ends with creating the same structured environment in a different context. The Reality Check comes with the recognition of having done this and questioning the purpose for which a change is needed. Defining your purpose for an educational shift is truly the beginning point and it includes the family as a whole. Dig a little deeper.
…Below are excerpts from The Homeschool Cooperative Model
Quick Tip #1: Begin with brainstorming ideas for what education represents for your family. When you hear the word education what do you picture? Curriculum? Programs? Teacher resources? Do you see a desk, an easel, writing journals, perfectly sharpened pencils in a cute apple shaped holder, and a computer set up in a special space at home? Do you picture your child sitting attentively with a tutor as she writes prolifically in her new founded daily journal, with enthusiasm and a huge smile? Or are your images of outdoor hikes, a science journal and colored pencils tucked in your kid’s backpack, sitting with your kid at the local library amongst the stacks of books for the sheer sake of conversing about your surroundings, discovering purpose? Listening to your son recite a poem while he jumps on the trampoline? Really, the descriptions will vary from family to family and they will define your direction as homeschool/cooperative parents. It’s an essential first step to avoiding the trap of recreating a template approach for education. Since you may already be in tune with the fact that you dislike the current lack of creativity in your child’s education, this step helps you further discover your purpose as a family for moving in a different direction to educate…
…The Time Factor: The time it requires for you as a parent to homeschool can be daunting. Immediately, parents will seek those who are like thinkers and want to make the move cooperatively. I caution parents to be cognizant of their purpose as a family for educating in their new environment as it plays a hefty role at this point. Homeschool and cooperative environments are highly personal and carry with them specific educational codes of conduct accordingly. It is inevitable that compromises are made when a larger cooperative setting is implemented and I suggest you fully understand the degree of flexibility you are willing to forsake for your own child, before moving forward. As groups of children and families grow together in an educational setting, the more defined and structured that setting will become. The potential result is developing into a mainstream setting, the very core of what you are avoiding in the first place…
…A Quick Tip #2: Ask yourself, “What role do I play in this new educational process?”
As the parent, are you a teacher–the teacher, a guide, a coach, or just plain mom or dad. Are you the organizer and planner who sets up learning contexts for your children with tutors and/or other teachers? Do you seek community resources as learning options for your children? Do you picture daily cooking lessons to discover math and to simply bond with your child? Do you participate in community service side-by-side your kid? Do you want to drop your child and leave? Are you are all of these? Jumping in without establishing your purpose as a family, may make you feel lost and disappointed in your efforts with your own child. Understanding your limitations for education, i.e., developmentally appropriate curriculum and the stages of child development emotionally, physically, and cognitively are all important factors. These, and many more, should never be sacrificed in a homeschool and cooperative setting, because these represent the core for learning in an organic and home grown context. And as the parent, you know best what that constitutes for your child.
These excerpts represent the starting point for unravelling The Reality Check. The process will recur many times over and just when you think you have it all figure out, you get another reality check. It is indicative of learning as a process by which parent and child experience together. This is a little boost to jump start your way into seeking the value in guidance.
Coming Soon are excerpts from Seeking Guidance; What Have I Committed To? and Homeschooling or De-schooling; An Ongoing Process.
Mom, Educator at Home