What to do about SCHOOL in 2020 (Episode 155)
At the top of many parent's minds right now is what the heck to do about school for their children for this fall semester. The pandemic of 2020 has rocked us all in so many ways, and now, as we're embarking upon a new school year...what is this going to look like for you?
Functional Education goes beyond a classroom, grade level, or score.
It is a lifelong approach to learning where the world is our school, and everyone is our teacher.
In this podcast episode, Nathan and I reflect back on our own stories with education.
Nathan grew up going to public school the whole way through. There was definitely an expectation of rising through public school and then getting a college degree.
I started out with public school K-3, homeschooled with my mother for 4th and 5th, tried out public school one more time in 6th grade, and then went back to homeschooling and took part in quite a few different co-ops for homeschoolers that was more like a university model.
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Once we went back to homeschooling, my grade level got a bit more muddy, as I was working with more advanced content and my brother was struggling more, so I ended up skipping 8th grade and jumping right into 9th grade material.
Once my brother graduated, I was a sophomore in high school, and my mother was concerned I was becoming a bit "academically lazy". So I ended up going back to a private school. They weren't sure where to place me since I was so young, so I ended up choosing to do the grade I was "supposed" to be in - 10th grade. I graduated the day before I turned 17, and went on to apply to 3 colleges, all three which I was accepted at, and went to a prestigious private college right after.
We tend to Function with what we know
Our first default tends to be that we function based on what we know from our past. So most likely, you are looking at education based on how you knew school to be for you.
Think about all the fears with that - am I doing it "right", will they fall behind, what if they miss something or hate it?
Yet with those...what is really "right"? Will they fall behind...what? A country up in arms and at a loss on education that's trying to figure everything out right now? What standard are you comparing your child to...and does it even exist, really?
Think about this:
How many times have you given a compliment that is completely "functional"? How many times have you told someone, "wow, I love how you do calculus." Or, "you do such a great job with long division - I hope to one day do it like you do."
Which would you rather hear about your children -
"Sally can recite the whole periodic table of elements so beautifully!"
"I just had an incredibly fascinating conversation with your son John. I am impressed by his ability to communicate his thoughts so well!"
Would you rather raise good people...or good recitors?
We want people that know how to work with others, relate to others, love the process of learning, and know how to find the answers they need in life.
Think beyond the subjects
Think beyond the subjects of what you really want your children to know. Are they learning how to learn through their struggles, how to handle dissappointment, frustration, or conflict?
Are they able to easily talk with people of all ages, or do they freeze up and hide when an adult asks a question? Can they use their own critical thinking to come up with answers, or things to do? Do they know basic life skills, like doing laundry, washing dishes, balancing finances, paying bills, grocery shopping and meal planning?
Are you paying attention to your children's own thoughts and opinions, desires and interests? Are you fostering any of it in a way that gives them life skills for the future?
#1 - Your Relationships
How well do you know your children? Have you talked with them about their desires and interests? Do you have an idea on how they best learn - maybe more auditory, kinesthetic, or visual? Or if they are more theoretical or literal in their learning style?
We highly recommend "deschooling" first and foremost before you address schooling options in the home. If you want to be a part of making learning an enjoyable and sought-after thing in your home, you have to first lay the foundation of creating a healthy relationship with your child.
Throw out any expectations or obligations around learning and look at your family as a blank slate. For each individual, how do they learn best? What does that environment look like? Can you feasibly make that work for your family? If not, is there a way to acknowledge what they need and make some tweaks to something that is a better fit, even if you can't do it all?
#2 - Know the Laws
Know the ropes in your hometown. What are your legal requirements when it comes to alternative school options? HSLDA.org is a great place to learn all the ropes and see what laws are in your state.
On top of knowing what your options are legally, pay attention to what alternative schools are out there. There are many variations - there are umbrella schools that fit under homeschooling, but also things like Sudbury School or Acton Academy that may be a model worth checking out (if you really want to get a new look at learning, watch some of the incredible videos on Acton's page).
There are many options out there now beyond just homeschooling - there are virtual schools, private schools, and alternative schools.
Maybe you don't go super formal, but you and a friend or two band together for a bit more of a team approach to working with your kids, and you take turns carrying the load, or doing different subjects. Remember that there was a time when school was not a requirement for our children, and yet they still learned and were able to progress to get us to where we are now (yikes...maybe right in the midst of a pandemic isn't really the time to prove what's worked).
#3 - Socialization
Get creative - think beyond the box of what school can look like. And recognize that socialization happens when you are interacting with others, period, so look for opportunities for your child to interact with others, regardless of age, and you'll be amazed at how their social skills expand (regardless of your school choices).
#4 - Put it in Perspective
You don't have to get it right every single time. And you don't have to make a permanent decision. Many times you aren't going to know what will work or not until you actually try. Deciding on a different schooling option for your child doesn't mean they can never go back. It may help you narrow down what you don't want, or it may open up more doors you hadn't even known to explore before.
Some additional resources for you
- What is Functional Education? (Video)
- Homeschool State Laws - HSLDA
- But What About Socialization?
- My Child Will Never Read
- Learn more about DISC Personality Styles
- Life Long Learners Come In All Personality Styles
- How can I be both teacher and student? Reach for the sun yourself! (Episode 74)
- Homeschool Rebuttals (Episode 61)
- History in a Distillery and other opportunities for learning (Episode 47)
- What is your internal motivation? (Episode 44)
- Your Credibility as Lead Explorer, Not A Teacher (Episode 42)
- What Type Of Thinker Are You? (Episode 43)
- Embrace The Struggle (Episode 41)
- Are You A Different Drummer? (Episode 39)
- Deschooling and the Myths of Education (Episode 40)
Your Weekly Challenge:
What is your rebuttal? Have you listened to the podcast and you are thinking, "yes, but..." or you think you have an exceptional challenge, let me know! What are you still struggling with?
If I don't have the answers, I'm thrilled to have a network of amazing homeschooling and alternative ed parents that may be able to help you and shed some light.
It's okay to try and try again, and learn what works as we try things out. We are each unique with different interests, and if we open the door to learn and grow together, we truly honor how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste