Tuesday, January 21, 2014


This last summer, Caitlyn made the transition from regular school to homeschool, and so far I'm delighted! I homeschooled as a kid; I'm excited to be diving back in now with Caitlyn. I haven't written anything about it here (unlike Christina) so it's time to catch up:

We always intended to homeschool her, but it was important to us that she got a chance to experience mainstream school for as long as she wanted to (no forbidden fruits there), and that homeschool be her choice. Regular school is something that kind of happens to you; homeschool takes a lot more personal responsibility, at least the way we're doing it. She needs to really want it in order for it to work. We made it clear what's expected of her, so she knew what she was getting into.

Towards the end of second grade she came to us and said she was ready. We insisted she finish out the year, which she did reluctantly. In the end, the last day of school was both exciting and sad, saying goodbye to the place she'd spent so much time for the last three years, and hello to a whole new way of life.

We used the summer to ease into the concept of homeschool (starting with a two-week field trip to Canada), and we started in earnest in the autumn. Of course, even now, we're still figuring out the right mix of activities. A lot of her day is what's generally described as "unschooling", where she's left to pursue her own interests, but Christina is working with her directly on a few fundamentals. We figure she can get into chemistry, history, basket weaving, etc. as the mood strikes her, and she's likely to go deep on some subjects and shallow on others, which is fine. Everybody's gotta get a firm foundation in the three Rs, though. Reading is not an issue; she's already a voracious reader, chewing through 350-page books in a weekend. Math and writing are not as favored, so Christina works with her on those subjects.

When left to her own devices, Caitlyn's favorite subject is art, and her skill is increasing steadily. She's learning firsthand the value of practice! She has an art tutor who comes over every other week, and both Christina and I also mentor her in various ways on the subject.

One of the wonderful things about homeschooling today, at least in this part of the world, is that there's an amazing amount of resources, and a strong support network. She regularly gets together with her friends (other homeschoolers, friends from the neighborhood, friends she met in school) for both structured and unstructured activities. Several of her homeschool companions get together at one house for science, and then back to ours for tea and poetry with Christina.

Of course this means Christina's getting to learn more about poetry, too. This is one of the hidden benefits of homeschooling; the parents get to learn as well. Caitlyn is interested in Spanish, so all three of us are taking a course together. Her interest in art means we all get to practice our art-making more, etc.

Let's see, what else? Circus class continues, and she's doing theater again. She gets quality time at the public library, and she's got a library account on her computer so she can order books whenever she wants. She's also learning general computer use and typing. I'm taking advantage of time to work with her on subjects that were dear to my heart as a kid. We're doing programming together, as well as Legos, of course.

Surely it will continue to evolve, but I feel like we're off to a good start. The three of us have embarked upon a great adventure together!

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