1. Tell us a bit about your family
We are a family of four living in the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I am a stay-at-home mom. My husband works part time at home and part time in his office. Our long-term goal is to be making money doing things we love and working for ourselves so he can quit his desk job. This may mean having to move off the island eventually. Our older daughter is Meredith, who is four and loves to sing and dance, anything artsy, performing and watching puppet shows, gardening, and so much more. Our younger daughter is Fiona, who is twenty-two months old and also seems to enjoy music, and pretty much anything her big sister does she wants to do too. As a family, we value personal autonomy, being together, and just plain having fun.
2. Have you always known you wanted to homeschool? / Why did you decide to forgo preschool?
We always knew we wouldn’t be sending our kids to public school, but home schooling was only one of a few options that we originally considered. When we first heard about unschooling we were skeptical, but as we read more into it it became obvious that it was the perfect fit for us and our beliefs.
There was no point in paying for preschool if we aren’t planning on doing any other school! We have lots of friends to hang out with and she’s at or ahead of any learning goals for preschool so it was never something on the radar.
3. What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?
It is hard to pick just one, but I love the freedom it gives us in all aspects of our life. The freedom to set our own schedules and choose what we want to do from day to day based on how we’re feeling or what friends are up to. The freedom to spend as much or as little time as we like on activities and projects, and to choose which activities or projects to work on at any given time. The freedom to go out and meet people and kids of all ages and form groups based on interests, not just based on age. The freedom to sleep in in the mornings, and not be rushing around trying to get out the door (which we all hate, Meredith and I especially are not our best in the morning!).
4. The hardest thing?
Probably the stigma that surrounds it. Homeschooling now, with the internet and huge local groups, is so different than it has been in the past, but the stigma of the isolated, weird, home schooled kid still prevails. Children who go to school who are very introverted or different from their peers are often just as accepted as being different, but if those same kids were homeschooled the homeschooling is often blamed.
5. What do you do to prepare for “back to school”? Anything?
The last two years we have gone to the local “Not-Back-To-School” picnic. But since Meredith has never been to school and many (I’d say most) of her friends are home learners as well, nothing much changes for us when school starts.
6. Do your children ever ask to go to school?
Meredith has asked about kindergarten, but more in a curious way than wanting to go. As I said above, most of her friends are home schooled so she would have less time to spend with them in school.
7. Do you prescribe to a particular homeschooling philosophy?
Technically we are unschoolers, but I prefer the term life learners as I feel it puts more focus on what we do rather than what we don’t do. Basically, we follow our children’s interests and make sure there is lots of fun stuff around for them to do. Not necessarily educational, just fun and engaging things that we can do together.
We believe that learning is always happening, even if we can’t always see it, and that learning happens best when the child is engaged and interested and can apply the learning to real life.
8. Are you influenced by any other homeschooling philosophies?
I have read about Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio. I take what works for us and leave the rest. Sometimes what works one week stops working the next and so we have learned to be flexible.
9. Do you use a particular curriculum? Any recommendations?
Not really. We follow interests and if Meredith is interested in something specific we will use blogs, the library, Netflix, suggestions from friends, etc. I’m not completely adverse to curriculum; it just would not be a forced thing. For example, I have some cuisenaire rods and if Meredith ever shows a lot of interest in them I might try the Miquon curriculum.
10. What does a typical day look like at your house?
There isn’t really a typical day here! Some days we are outside all day long, others we veg in front of the TV in our pyjamas. Most days are somewhere in between. We have chickens and a large garden area and spend a lot of time walking around in the forested area behind our house. Inside, we have some climbing areas and right now the girls mostly like to climb and play with Lego.
If we wanted, we could have plans to go out almost every day of the week so we do make sure we have some days to just relax around home and enjoy each other’s company. When there is something of particular interest going on, that often takes up our whole day. Meredith went through a phase where she was obsessed with Ancient Egypt, and sometimes it seemed like all we did all day was watch videos, read books, play games, and discuss Ancient Egypt.
11. What is your best homeschooling tip?
Trust in yourself and your children. Don’t worry too much about others’ prejudices against home learners. Enjoy the natural learning process.
12. As a homeschooling family, what is the one item you couldn’t do without?
It would be really hard to pick just one thing. At the risk of not sounding very environmentally-friendly I might have to say our vehicle. 😉 because we are a bit rural, we aren’t walking or biking distance from much. It’s nice to be able to go in and go to Duncan or Victoria or wherever something is happening and join in.
12. Any final thoughts?
If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to move on, even if it is something that works for others or that you thought should work for you.
Thanks, Lindsay, for sharing your slice of life with us. It sounds like you do have a lot of wonderful freedom to enjoy!