Here is Why You Should Stop Assuming That Every Homeschooler is An Anti-social!

 

As I try o smile and nod and make small talk and hope after every answer that I have finally convinced the hairdresser that I really am not interested in sharing the story of my life, I get hit hardly by yet another question! I tell you some people do more than justice to the art of resilience and persistence! So then of course the most common question follows: Do you have kids? And as I answer giving all the details, hoping that this will be the end of it, another question hits me in the face like the cold air: “Is your son sick? Is that why you homeschool?” I had no idea how to answer that, I couldn’t understand how someone in the 21stcentury could be so blatant, insensitive, and just plain nosy! So I answer with the only sentence that could make its way out of my mouth: “No, we are just weird”. I then proceed to putting my earphones pretending to be listening to something on my phone as a last effort to make the person handling my hair STOP TALKING!

 

As a homeschooler, we get tons of questions all the time, and I usually welcome them and make sure I answer them thoroughly and with all the details/info that I can give, because I believe that people are genuinely asking, because the whole concept is so new, specially here in the middle east, and because we are not used to see other people say NO to the system. We are used to do as we are told, and to follow rules and regulations, without even questioning them. One of the main questions that we get is:

 

“Aren’t you afraid that he won’t be social enough?”

 

If you are close enough and you do know my little sunshine, then you sure know that he is a walking chatterbox, who makes friends as he breathes. His social life is much better than mine and his dad’s, both combined. He loves interacting with everyone from the cashier at the supermarket, to the little kid sitting alone in playground, to the parents of his own friends.

If you are not that close and you don’t know my son, here are some facts for you:

 

Children are already competent social beings; they have the extreme ability to adapt and coexist, something that most adults lack as they grow older.

 

Children are not exactly some sort of adults-in-training, they are however somewhere between being and becoming. Being a child who is actively constructing their childhood, and becoming an adult as an end result.

 

If we can see children as the competent and complex human beings that they really are, we can begin to see their behavior beyond the polarity of positive and negative. We can begin to see the nuances of who they are, what kind of personality they have? Character? … etc.

 

Everyone is born with a predisposition toward a personality type. Extroverts are energized by interacting with others and the world around them, while introverts are drained by too much interaction, especially with a big group, and prefer to be with people they know well. Although all kids display traits of both types, they innately prefer one style over the other-This book is great if you want to know more about the extroverted and introverted types: Quiet by Susan Cain– so whether they go to school or not, they are who they are.

 

The other thing that I need to clarify here is that homeschoolers DO GET OUT OF THEIR HOMES. We do not hibernate as we homeschool. There are tons of activities that homeschoolers around the world plan, choose, and arrange for their children, depending on WHO their child is, what do they like and dislike and not just depending on a super old system called “school”.

 

There are homeschooling communities all around the world; and we have a great one here in Bahrain. We plan classes together, take turns in hosting and preparing lessons, we plan field trips, sports days, book clubs and many many different activities. The other advantage that we have is that kids mingle with all age groups, and instead of learning how to communicate with only their peers, they actually get the exposure they need to prepare them for the real world.

So please the next time you want to ask “How about his social life”, reconsider your question, and instead ask about what kind of activities, curriculum, adventures we do/have, to really know more about the homeschooling life.

 

On behalf of the homeschoolers of the world, I send you wild and free thoughts, with much love!

 

 

Ouiam

How We Montessori.

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While sitting in my kitchen, I decided as I promised in my last post, to write about how we homeschool.
First , I need to talk a little bit about the Montessori method  itself, before we get any deeper in this. The Montessori method is an educational approach developed by the Italian physician Maria Montessori. This approach takes the child out of the traditional teaching system and puts him in a completely different environment, where he is the master of his own destiny. He has all the freedom he needs to thrive and to become a responsible, creative human being, armed with highly developed problem solving skills. The method emphasizes in making everything accessible to the child so he doesn’t depend on anyone to get through his day. Everything should be put in miniature or at least put in a way that the child (toddler in my case) is able to help himself by himself.

 

For example, he needs to be able to access the kitchen, and this is done by giving him a specific area of your kitchen where you can display his plates, cups, spoons, forks…etc. in a way that he can get whatever he needs alone without having to ask you for help. Of course all this is done while respecting all the safety measures. You do the same thing in his bedroom with his clothes and toiletries, and pretty much every area of your house. The child is also given the freedom to explore and gets to make his own choices. So in a way it is more of a lifestyle than an educational method really.

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The teaching is done through lessons (also called presentations), covering all subjects. Each presentation is done in a tray and explored on a rug (a normal small rug) or on a table. The tray is incredibly important; it teaches the child about boundaries. He can’t work outside that tray.  From my own experience, the tray has taught Adam to always work in a clean environment without making a mess. It also taught him to focus more because the space is narrowed to that tray now, and it is much easier to concentrate, plus it teaches him how to be disciplined and how to follow instructions.

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Lessons in general cover these subjects: Practical life (as the name indicates it is about the normal life, doing normal chores, like sweeping the floor, cutting vegetables and fruits, pouring, washing dishes, preparing the table… etc.). There is also Science, Math, History, Language, Botany, Geology, Zoology, Geography, Sensorial, and ecology.

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Currently I am doing a Montessori teaching course (almost done …Yaay to that!), So I have manuals to help me with the curriculum. We work 6 days a week (Friday is off), from 9:30am till 11:30am. Everyday we have a different subject. I prepare the lessons every Friday (for the whole week), and every night I just prepare the material needed for the next morning. During the session Adam gets two breaks, where we usually have dance parties (we just dance for few minutes), then we go back to our work. I lay the activities of the day in front of Adam and let him choose what he wants to do, I then explain to him what I need him to do, using very specific and clear instructions, and let him dig in. I do not interfere with his work, I do not try to rush him or push him to do what he is “supposed” to do, because there is no such thing in the Montessori method. It is all about observing the child and noticing all the little things that will tell you a lot about him. Even if I see that Adam is doing something wrong, I do not interfere (I must admit that this is very hard at times, because of course as a mother I have that absolute need to direct my child towards what is right and correct, but luckily most of the time I manage to stop myself). Once he says that he is done, we clean up, then move to a different activity. Cleaning up is vital! The kids have to learn that they can not have access to another activity unless they clean up. At times when Adam refuses to clean up, I put his picture (one that we always use) on the tray of the activity, and put it next to us, while we proceed to the next lesson, but we come back to it when he is in a better mood, and the picture is to remind him that he has some unfinished business over here.

 

Activities are simple and fun, because let’s face it, the aim is to have fun while learning, so if Adam isn’t enjoying himself, I stop and change activities immediately. They also need to be age appropriate, because while it is good to expose the child to new exciting things, if it is too hard they will lose interest and get bored very fast, which is exactly what we want to avoid at all costs.

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I started homeschooling Adam since he was 17months old, and honestly I love it! It has taught us both (Adam and I) so many things, plus I just love how independent Adam is (He makes his own breakfast, washes his own dishes after every meal, he also can dress and undress himself whenever needed without me even being in the same room, it also made potty training a piece of cake!).

 

On a totally different note, I think I love blogging from my kitchen, with the smell of freshly baked goods satisfying my senses and the tunes of Joe Dassin and french songs from the 20s taking me to cloud nine! So I guess this is something that I will be doing more often lol!

Thanks for reading and come back soon!

 

Ouiam