As my maternity leave was coming to an end, I initially prepared myself to return to work as a preschool teacher in a beautiful Montessori toddler environment. I was also mentally preparing to send my exclusively breastfed son to school in the most peaceful and child centered environment I had ever been so lucky to be a part of. I was apprehensive about the fact that I hadn’t given him bottles, and if I’m being completely honest, just based on my personal preference I had no desire to do so. I also had second thoughts about what I felt came naturally to me while parenting. I knew things like sleep habits and feeding would need to change in an effort to make the transition to full-time group care easier for both my son and his caregivers. If I had to pick a label to assign myself, I’d probably be called an “attachment parent” although I don’t particularly care for this term.
I firmly believe a baby or child wanting their parent(s) is natural, and not a problem to be solved. The school philosophy called for a more hands off approach. While I felt like this approach was ideal in a group setting, it was very different from what had been taking place at home. I felt that if I was truly following or sons cues, cries, and needs verses gently working to prove the point that he was already capable of meeting these needs without us there’s no way this could be as hands off as I initially believed.
These are two very different approaches.
After years of working in childcare I also know that when it comes to group care the later of the two approaches is the only real possibility when it comes to caring for many children at once. Although I didn’t doubt the ability, knowledge, or loving character of the caregivers there, I was equally confident in my own ability to parent from the very beginning. I knew that these lessons independence would come, but I also didn’t believe that 3 months of age was the proper time. Despite loving this wonderful community of coworkers and families, this peaceful approach, and beautiful environment I still wasn’t sold on the fact that this was something that absolutely had to be done for the well-being of my child. A large part of me still felt like if ever there were a child I wanted to nurture and teach, a child I wanted to pour myself into and watch blossom, it would certainly be my own. I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something I could, and should do myself and for my child.
I chose to stay home with our son, and babysit often for a few of the other families in our neighborhood. It was at this point that we made a huge shift in our thinking that our child would always attend a school outside of the home.
Our son Archer turned 2 about 2 weeks ago. He is full of energy, lives for outdoor play, and enjoys helping in the kitchen. While we are years away from having to decide on an official plan of action for his education, since my deciding not to return to work homeschooling as always been an option that we felt we could seriously take into consideration when the came.
While we have not started following a specific curriculum plan at the moment; Archer is constantly learning based on his play and the materials that have been provided in his environment. We are planning to begin more structured lessons next year at the age of 3. For now we have a weekly topic and read books, have brief talks, sing songs, and do crafts pertaining to the topic of the week. This usually takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes, and takes places after a few hours of free play in the morning. We are working to establish a genuine love of learning and self-motivation. At this age Archer is not made to sit through books, activities or lessons he shows no interest in. When he does find work that seems to hold his attention he is welcome to take as much time as he’d like with it.
One of the concerns that are often voiced in regards to homeschooling is socialization.
I can pretty much promise you that there is no lack of socialization for any child who may be frequently participating in activities such as:
- attending weekly fitness classes and play dates the park
- listening to mom while at the grocery store checkout
- attending weekly swim classes with peers
- playing with friends in the neighborhood or park for a few hours each day
- traveling state to state or internationally with the family
I couldn’t plan a practical life lesson or tray of work that would be any more beneficial than having the time and flexibility to experience these things first hand.
Homeschooling does not exclusively take place within the walls of the home.
All of the reasons mentioned above are why we are leaning more and more towards pursuing a home-school education for our son. The ability to be a hands-on and present part of his education, the opportunity to provide multiple means of socialization with peers and adults alike, and the flexibility to learn through real world adventure and experience. As of now we feel confident in this choice for our family. We are looking forward to sharing this beautiful experience with all of our followers!
“The home is the child’s first school, the parent is the child’s first teacher…”- Barbara Bush