During a thankfully brief mid-career crisis, I went looking for what I call my manifesto. I wrote it in my Steiner phase, so you'll have to imagine the coloured paper with curved edges, the cover sewn together with yarn...
It was a list of reasons to homeschool, prepared eight years ago, in anticipation of our first homeschool registration visit from an Authorised Person. I thought I'd have a fight on my hands and wanted to have my ammunition ready. As it turned out, our AP was a lovely woman who enjoyed looking at the girls' artwork and the books in our bookcase and was perfectly content for us to homeschool. After she left, I put the manifesto on the school shelf and it's been there ever since.
These were some of our reasons for choosing to homeschool:
to model life long learning
to have a child and parent directed education
for learning to be its own reward, without use of a merit system
to have the ability to tailor pace/depth of learning to child's age/interests/competency
efficient use of time
to use good literature as a prime learning tool
to encourage curiosity and the development of self-directed learning behaviours rather than obedience
to introduce subjects/ideas at age appropriate times
to have flexible schedules
to provide the opportunity to socialise in the community and not restrict interaction to same age peers
to include children in adult life as participants in paid work and volunteering
to participate in running of household and learn household skills
to have the opportunity to observe own spiritual practice if desired
to learn outside the classroom using natural and community resources
Rereading this list, I was surprised at how we'd met most of my initial goals, despite having had days, weeks and even years where I was unsure of how well we'd done in our homeschool experiment and despite changing approaches several times along the way.
We're at a crossroads this year. Arwen is trying school soon. Lucy is heading into the world of volunteering, work experience and independent study. I think it's time to update the manifesto, to state a new set of goals which incorporate, develop and add to the old.
It won't be as pretty. Word documents lack the homespun look of a Steiner notebook.Still, I hope it will be a guide for me, as I head into the second half of my home educating career. And pretty or not, something to look back on at the next crossroads and to gain reassurance from. To see goals, ideas, philosophies all met, despite my imperfections and mistakes; to know the path leads to the desired destination, even with its detours and sometimes, its dead ends.