Back to school blues even happen for homeschoolers

We are back at ‘school’ after almost 3 months of summer holidays, and it seems that ‘back to school blues’ even happen for homeschoolers. Funny…. this time last year the kids had to go back to real school and they were pretty much exactly like Calvin. This year we are only going back to homeschooling, but nothing much has changed!

I have to say, I feel a bit guilty taking summer holidays from what is already pretty much a holiday kind of lifestyle (despite what the kids say)… But I realised that holidays aren’t just about doing nothing… they are a punctuation mark.

Our first 8 months of homeschooling were fantastic but incredibly stressful at the same time, as we started out as curriculum- based homeschoolers, then developed our own curriculums, then we tried out unit studies, and experimented with unschooling as well. Meanwhile the kids went through every emotion possible about homeschooling… starting with elation at leaving school, followed by devastation when they realised were were still going to have to learn stuff, wild enthusiasm about the topics they loved, and outright rebellion about others they hated. (In fact there was more rebellion than anything else most of the time, and that meant me learning a whole new set of coping mechanisms). I think the only constant thing in our whole first 8 months was my driving belief that this was the best decision I had ever made.

In hindsight it was all a bit of a mess, but looking back at our books and materials as I was packing them all up before we left for Australia, I was seriously amazed at how much we had managed to do amidst such chaos.

This year is going to be more organised!! (I am pretty sure these are famous last words).

Now we know we are not much into curriculums.

We know we like unit studies.

We know we like having flexibility to do or not to do, depending on our day.

We know we want to make time for swimming, horseriding, karate and rock climbing.

We also know we want to focus on Islamic topics more.

I know that learning objectives are a big priority, to teach discipline and commitment within subjects they are really interested in.

So with all this in mind, the plan is an hour of Islam first, then an hour of formal topics (science, maths, english etc) and then an hour of personal learning objectives each day. Three hours… that’s it. Each child has started a learning blog and their personal objectives plus anything else they are interested in, are recorded here. Apart from that they have ONE exercise book each for the year, in which anything else they do will be recorded. Last year we tried an exercise book for each subject but it just felt like school, where they used to spend half the lesson writing the date in the OCD way the school prescribed.

I have joined a great science site called Supercharged Science and I, at least, am really excited about the huge range of experiments and applied learning (the kids claim they ‘hate science’ but the other day when we launched a rocket with vinegar and baking soda 50 metres into the sky, Shams didn’t seem to hate it too much). My mission this year is that they will say ‘we LOVE science now’ by the end of the year… here’s hoping Supercharged Science does the trick.

Maths will continue as before with Khan Academy and Adapted Mind and Shams will work on writing particularly through his blog and Grammaropolis.

So that’s our year in a nutshell… who knows…. this organisation may only last for a couple of weeks and we may descend back into homeschooling anarchy again, but we sure have learned a lot from last year … so onwards and upwards!





Homeschooling – Where’s the “ME” time?

Yesterday Safiyah skyped me from her bedroom (yes, we have some of our best conversations via skype) and asked, “Mumma, would you miss us if we went back to school?”

A bit taken aback, I replied, “I LOVE having you guys at home… but don’t tell me you want to go back to school???!!!”.

“I am NEVER, EVER going back to school, but I just wondered if sometimes it gets too much having us all at home all the time?” More

The future of education part 2 – homeschooling club

I have been thinking a lot about the future of education, and some of you would have seen my first blog on this. I have been struggling with how online schooling could work for homeschoolers where we don’t want too much structure and definitely no exams or assessments. So how about this for an idea… an online homeschooling club…?

There could be a parents section and a kids section. In the parents section we could share resources, blog links, have a support network when they feel like tearing their hair out (which seems like a pretty regular occurrence with homeschooling). More

The learning context – homeschooling in the Pakistani summer

One of the best and worst things about homeschooling is the learning context. At school the environment is homogenised to the point where everything is pretty much the same every day. It’s simply not like that at home. Some days you are just too busy for school. In the morning I have a constant stream of people coming to the door needing attention. Some days I am in a terrible mood and just can’t muster the patience required for kids. Some days the kids are in a terrible mood and it is a waste of time fighting about things like maths. This is all very disruptive, but it is also real life.

Right now we are struggling with the heat. It is 40 degrees plus every day here in Pakistan and we only have one AC in the bedroom. Even if we had airconditioning throughout the house it would be no good since we only get power every second hour. It is so hot that we sit in puddles of sweat and all we want to do is lie down in the shower. But even that is no use since water has not come from the council pipes for 3 weeks now. Every couple of days we have to order a tanker of water that costs more than we usually pay for a whole month of water and we have to stretch it as far as we can.

So in the context of all this, we have given up on school. Our brains have stopped working. Our will power has evaporated along the bucket loads of sweat. We have had enough.


The balancing act – homeschooling versus unschooling

This morning my kids are quietly playing Minecraft with their friends while I am writing and drinking tea. It feels wrong.

Usually there are complaints, tantrums, me in a frenzy trying to get all the resources together for the day, looking at the clock to see how late we are getting, more complaints, adapting to the kids who say they don’t want to do what I have proposed and general hassle.

So which of these pictures is wrong? More

Homeschooling for purpose

Why do we take our kids out of school? The most common reason I have heard is that schools do not treat our children as individuals with their own learning paths… they produce battery chickens who are all fed the same thing and produce homogenous learning.

So if this is the case, how do we nurture that individualism of our kids at home? Of course we will be with them more so can see their own strengths and weaknesses, but if we are just teaching a standard curriculum at home as well, how is it better than school?

I believe that one of the huge benefits of homeschooling can be that we have a unique opportunity to nurture our kids to grow into their PURPOSE.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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