School started last week and now everywhere we go the kids get asked why they aren’t in school. It’s usually Averie who tells them that they are homeschooled and it’s because “we are going on a big adventure.” Then I get looks with raised eyebrows, nod in agreement with my daughter, and it inevitably leads to a lengthy discussion about what we’re doing, where we’re going, and sometimes, why we are doing it. Most often people are supportive and curious, however there is still an element of judgement about the homeschool thing. Whatever. I love that we have the freedom in our province to choose a form of education that will best fit our children as we travel. As a parent and an educator, I believe that our children will learn far more about life, the world and themselves on this trip then they ever could sitting in a classroom with twenty other students. We also hope that this will become a defining portion of both their lives, and quite frankly all our lives. But it doesn’t mean they get to skip going to school to learn the basics. Therefore we homeschool, raised eyebrows and all.
Being a teacher has helped with calming some of the homeschool anxiety and reservations I have, perhaps it also contributes to it as well. Teaching my own children is new territory and opens a world of challenges and possibilities. I seriously applaud the patience that parents who homeschool their children have. I am finding that all three of us are lacking in the patience department when it comes to school time. We are a week and a bit in and I’ve battled with both kids, at different points, during school. They don’t want to do it, they want to do something else, they want to play, it’s too hard, it’s not good enough, don’t help me, help me, and on and on. I have to keep reminding myself that when I’m teaching in a classroom, with 33 students, it takes at least four or five weeks to settle into our routines, and they often have the same complaints as my own kids. It will take time and that’s okay.
On Wednesday this week Liam and I have our meeting with our homeschool facilitator. In Alberta, it is mandatory that students aged six and older attend school. I knew this and decided that going through the CBE homeschool program meant that there would be documentation for Liam’s schooling for the year. This way when we come back he can slide right into grade 3 in the fall. As far as Averie is concerned, there is no formal kindergarten homeschool program because kindergarten isn’t mandatory for students to attend. We’ll just follow similar subject areas at an appropriate level of understanding for her and move along at her pace. She attended two years of pre-school so we’re not really worried about her not being ready to go into grade one.
The process of registering a child in the CBE homeschool program is fairly simple. I attended an information session, got all necessary paperwork, Liam and I had an intake meeting in June, he was accepted and registered before the end of the school year. As we are going to be away for pretty much the entire school year, I opted for the parent directed program. Meaning I’ll be the only one teaching, instead of a blended teacher/parent program. At our meeting on Wednesday we’ll be discussing how and what Liam will be learning, as well as how I’ll assess his understanding of concepts and skills. Over the summer I put together my required learning plan for Liam that will guide our school year through the General Outcomes in the Alberta Program of Studies for grade 2. The majority of “school work” will be focused on numeracy and literacy, math and language arts. All science, social studies, gym, music and everything else will naturally happen during our everyday activities while we’re on the road, travelling, exploring and learning.
I know that as we all move through this adjustment period, we’re also heading right into another one. Everything is about to turn upside down in our lives and it’s going to get messy. I’m hoping that by November we’ll have figured out what works and that we’ll feel mostly settled into our new everyday. Like with anything associated with this trip, if it were easy more people would be doing it. It’s also completely freaking worth it.