Look no further. Your top three burning questions about how we worldschool – answered.
How do they socialize?
So, I’m an extroverted introvert. My fingers were tightly crossed that I’d get at least one shy and retiring wall flower to hang with. Preferably at home, and in our own spaces. Best laid plans. All that is to say that socialization is not a big concern for us. It is, however, far and away the most popular question we receive about home educating.
I think of learning how to ‘socialize’ like this: I would rather my kids learn how to be socially competent adults through observing and experiencing social interactions with the world rather than a classroom. In my experience, six year-olds don’t have the best social skills. Throw in the dynamics of a confined group of thirty kids. Yowza! Aaron and I, however have quite a few years of living in a society. We are acutely aware of how closely our kids are observing our every move and word, and how to guide those interactions.
Now, that’s not to say that we don’t prioritize play time and connections with other children. It’s really not something you have to go far out of your way to accomplish. We have lifelong friends from meeting on the local playground, ballet classes, and homeschool groups. And all of us make a concerted effort to foster long distance relationships. The girls love snail mail. What kid doesn’t love receiving something in the post? They regularly send letters, post cards, and small gifts to friends. They also love to Skype, and share pictures and videos on our social media. We make an effort to visit old friends whenever possible, and occasionally we get to have friends come meet up with us in various parts of the world.
The result? Kids that could happily keep a lamp post entertained with their never ending-usually charming conversation.
How do you teach them? Do you have a plan?
The only plan that we have stuck to all these years is to ‘follow the child’. We (usually) have complete trust that each child knows what they need to know, how they ought to learn it, and when they are ready to learn it. We have tried many different curriculums and styles, and adapt to what suits each child and the stage they are in. Once we settled into pivoting wherever their needs pointed, the stress level went way down.
We start off the early years loosely following the Montessori Method, Reggio, and TinkerSchool. Our focus is on practical life, learning through exploration, and building the foundation for reading and language skills. Our kids showed a keen interest in literacy right at three and a half years. They’ve each actively chosen to practice letter sounds, phonograms, and penmanship. Though many believe it to be an outdated practice, our kids learn cursive first. The flow of the letters is more intuitive to a child’s natural, looping, continuous scribbles. It also lacks the confusing letter similarities you run into with print. LuLu (almost 4) puts together three and basic four letter words, and will begin phonogram practice soon.
At around age eight we hit the sweet spot where they are no longer learning to read, but reading to learn. That opens up a world of freedom both of my time, and the ability to follow their interests more independently. Watching their reading interests shift to something more substantial is so gratifying. And, Ameélie is our self-proclaimed ‘book nerd’. Though she may be neither shy nor retiring, she is a voracious reader. This year Indi (6) has gained the confidence and fluidity to delve into chapter books, and I have a feeling we’ve got another ‘book nerd’ on our hands. It’s all part of my plot to get us to a point where I can have quiet reading time for myself too. They’re falling right into my trap. Muahaha!
How do you maintain your sanity?
Vanity? Humanity? Profanity? What is this sanity you speak of?
Worldschooling is hard. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. It’s all what you make of it.
Letting go of preconceived notions – which led us to our more un-school approach – has served us well. Actually, letting go of preconceived notions seems like a cure all for many of life’s challenges. We have also learned the importance of prioritizing self-care. This past year we finally realized that it could not just be a luxury reserved for Mother’s and Father’s Day, but needed to be an integral part of our daily life. We each have our daily rituals (meditation, exercise, adrenal boosting vitamins) that help keep us centered. Carving out couple time, as well as alone time, is a newly discovered necessity. This past year has found us with a home base in New York City, and we gave ourselves the gift of Monday dates. There was a lot of kid talk and awkward silences those first few Mondays, but it turns out we still like each other.
In the end, we realize just how luck we are to be able to spend this fleeting time with the kids, and we try to keep that perspective in mind.
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