You know Homeschoolers, right?
Every September the Homeschool-Mama cranks up the curriculum machine, laying out plans for the learning patterns of her children. She buys books, kits and activities. She schedules lessons and playgroups. She wears her school-at-home hat and the children sit at the table and do school-at-home.
And that's fine if you really are a Homeschool-Mama and your kids really do school-at-home.
But to be honest, I'm operating from a completely different paradigm.
I'm operating from the perspective of Trust. I'm trusting my children to learn whatever they feel inclined to learn whenever they feel motivated to learn it. I provide a rich, full life and then I get out of the way and I watch with amazement as my children demonstrate and assimilate their literacy skills, their gross motor skills, their imaginations, their compassion and cooperation, their joy and excitement, their meaningful lives.
Yesterday we were at the Ontario Science Centre. On a Monday there are two kinds of people there: school groups and moms with tots. My older children stand out because they are not part of those two groups. So inevitably, someone asks "Are you off school today?" and they (or I) will answer "No. We don't go to school." And inevitably the next reply is "Oh, you're homeschoolers."
So I've stopped saying "Yes." Saying Yes, we are Homeschoolers implies a whole lot of things about the parent-child relationship in our home that our NOT TRUE. It implies that I am imposing something onto my children that I'm simply not.
Why was I saying "Yes" in the first place? Because of fear and accommodation. I was fearful of putting an idea out that other people wouldn't understand so I would accommodate them with an answer that would make them feel comfortable.
Well, no more.
My new answer is "No. We learn together wherever we are."
It's a small thing, this decision to be authentic about our learning. But it matters to me. I can't show my children that I am unwilling to be honest just because I can't be bothered to give an authentic answer. My children know about Homeschooling because we know families who choose that model for their home-based learning. So obviously they know that it is a lie for me to tell people that we are Homeschoolers. I have to be honest for their sakes.
But I also have to be honest because I think that it is important to let the world know that we who are the non-conformists will not be silenced or lumped together for the comfort levels of those who choose the status quo. I don't hide that I breastfeed or that I believe homebirth can be a safe option or that I don't poison my children with colours and chemicals disguised as food.
I've never pretended that the parenting path I've chosen is easy. It is hard to know that mainstream culture has no framework for understanding the paradigm I've chosen to live. But just like it took the parents who said "We will not spank" to make the major shift in mainstream parenting that now frowns on spanking, it will take parents like me who say "We will not control and coerce our children's learning" to make a shift in the general parenting consciousness.
I'm will to contribute to that change, even if it takes me (and other people) out of our comfort zones.