A new school year is upon us and I would like to use this opportunity to write about our homeschooling experience.
We started homeschooling in Grade 3. Homeschooling had always been something we considered, but we wanted him to experience normal school life first. In Grade 3 we noticed he wasn’t thriving in a conventional school environment and decided to homeschool him through elementary school.
There are many different ways a family can homeschool—from “unschooling” to “school at home”. Personally, I used the Ontario School Curriculum as a guide but in hindsight I would call our homeschooling “child-led learning”. We adjusted our homeschooling in view of the interest, strengths and needs of our child.
I never planned to homeschool by myself, and reached out to the community for help. We were lucky and found a great English Tutor (Kathryn Shanahan,) Guitar Teacher (Stephanie Bird) and Karate Senseis (Bob and Bev Leonard.) All of them supported and encouraged our son for nearly a decade until he “graduated”.
Grade 6 was a tough year for homeschooling. Our child was unhappy with the way things were going, and at the same time he was asking us for permission to build his own desktop computer. As I did regularly in the elementary years, I turned to Bob and Rosie —2 retired teachers and family friends. They were a great support to us—a valued source of information that helped me improve my ability as a facilitator. I talked to them about our son’s wish to create and build his own desktop. Bob advised us to trust our child, and even gave him an old desktop computer to tinker with! Months later, with the help of a friend abroad, our homeschooler built his first computer.
During this time our homeschooling process received a makeover—the biggest change was using textbooks from Batner Bookstore. This allowed us to follow a stronger, better defined path for learning while still letting him take information in at his own rate.
As our son progressed he was taking more and more responsibility for his own education and we made the decision to keep homeschooling through High school. During High school my duties were reduced to ordering his choice of textbooks at the start of each "semester", enjoying spontaneous discussions about things he read in his textbooks and occasionally checking review questions. As the years passed I became more the “nagging mom”— “did you do your homework?”
2017-2018 was Grade 12, his final year. Priorities were to complete a SAT and apply to Universities. He surpassed our expectations for his SAT—scoring 1520 out of 1600, in the 99th (top 2%) percentile! On top of this, he got accepted into both Carleton and McGill. Due to McGill's late response and general administrative slowness, he will be attending Carleton this fall!
A big part of homeschooling is everyday life experiences and interactions. THANK YOU to EVERYONE who was part of our homeschooling journey… It did take a community to raise our child!
Notes for people interested in homeschooling:
- Homeschooling is not for every family or every child, but neither is conventional school. Engage with your child; know your available resources and go with what you think is right!
- In the early years we focused on reading (not just the ability to read, but the love of it to—something conventional school is not always great at nurturing) and math.
- For math he used primarily IXL, though high school he started using Khan Academy as well.
- The first years of homeschooling were the most exciting but also the hardest, not because of my child (I miss those early years cuddling up with him while reading or going on field trips), but because it was a lot of calling, researching, making connections, uncertainties and disappointments, but as you read, taking the effort to push through these difficulties paid off for us in the end!