mandag 3. februar 2014

Why homeschool? part 5

He-he, now I guess I kept you waiting long enough :))) The BIG S! :)))

Freedom of socialization

The notion which makes the majority of people around to frown and to make the picture of our kids chained to a table in a dungeon in their minds: the homeschool kids are deprived of socialization. Well, let us see.

What is socialization in the eyes of everyone? Sitting a whole day in a company of people with whom you have nothing in common but a year of birth. Is this socialization? And you are stuck with these people for 10 years!

You could say: but school recess! That is when the socialization is done. But have you seen kids at a regular European school recently? Seriously, have you? The kids older than 8 are all into their digital gadgets. They are playing, chatting, taking selfies and twitting. They socialize online. Now tell me, why is the location that important then? They can well twit from home, right? 

And the situation at home is a bit different. Yes, our children have friends whom they contact online, but a lot of their socialization is actually face-to-face. They are socializing with kids who might be of very diverse age groups, but have the same passion to music, to sports. Three friends my son has, come from his fencing club, and they are all older, one is in high school. You should see how they support each other at a fencing tournament! How they stand for each other and encourage even if one looses. This is the friendship one can cherish for life. 

His best friend is a musician. And when they are together, guess what, sometimes they play music pieces, nobody makes them, they just love that. This kid is actually one and a half years younger. 

Maria's best friend is also a boy, a neighbor who spends a lot of time at our home playing games and discussing things with her.

Children in the orchestra are often taking the time to do things together, in addition to playing on rehearsals, which also makes bonds between them. Of course, meeting other homeschoolers is an arena for socialization as well. We have regular meetings, both organized (as museum or other cultural tours, crafts, sports activities and such) and on private basis, when we visit each other and spend time together, both parents and kids.

It was funny to see a mother picking up her son from Daniel’s birthday party in a bowling center. She commented on how surprised she was to see such a diverse group of friends our son had. The kids were between 8 and 18, both boys and girls, while her son’s parties consist usually of only boys from his class. 

Together with our Grandmother.
Another important socialization issue is family bonds. These bonds get weaker through years due to all the different lives the families are leading. This privilege to be at home which I have is a great blessing to all of us. We know each other well; we interact, play, talk and address the important issues when they come up. The children learn to interact with each other in a kind and respectful way.  They don’t need to fight for parents’ love, since they don’t need to divide between themselves the precious one hour of parental attention before bedtime, but can address us and receive help, advice or just a listening ear whenever they need that. We enjoy time together and I hope the kids also will remember this family warmth which they receive, and keep being there for each other through life.

lørdag 1. februar 2014

Why homeschool? part 4

Now, the question of freedom does not end with the freedoms I have already mentioned: freedom of being bilingual and freedom of choice of a learning arena. There are quite a few freedoms I will take up in the next several posts. 

Today we will look at the questions of interests and of time.

Freedom for the children to pursue their interests.

Our son, he is 12, is a very musical kid. When he attended school though he never had time to practice and to use time on perfecting his skills. This Fall, after he devoted enough time to clarinet, he won the Super-final's audience prize in Norwegian National Music competition for Youth. The first prize was won by a 21-year old flutist, so we ARE very proud J.

Our youngest is keen on biology. Her interest in experiments, in work with microscope, in learning about cells, plants, animals is really big. She is reading the high school textbook in Biology, and she is only 9.

Our kids’ interest for history led us to petroglyphs in Norway and Kazakhstan for learning about stone age, Egypt's pyramids and Israel for Ancient history, Bergen and Trondheim, Lithuania and Germany for Middle Ages... We are learning a lot through travelling, which brings us to the next freedom, freedom of time.
Children are making their own papyrus in Cairo Museum of papyrus. 

Freedom of time

In Oslo, there is a very strict rule which does not allow school children to take much free from school. Only the death (God forbid) of a relative, can be a reason for children to take free. This same relative’s 75-year old day celebration is out of question. We have always traveled a bit and tried to make kids learn on site. But with the latest development it became impossible to take children to Delfi in Greece to see the first Greek stadium, the “hub of the universe” there, to learn about oracles where they actually were performing their predictions. As one example. (We did take our oldest out of school for this trip when she was in the 5th grade, but did not manage to repeat it with the next child, he was trying school then). 

But when we returned to homeschooling in May we managed to travel to Baikonur launching site in Kazakhstan and see the manned spacecraft being launched into the darkness of night sky!

 May 28th 2013, launching of Soyuz TMA-09 spacecraft, expedition "Volare", with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, American Karen Nyberg (sounds like she had Norwegian ancestors :)). She is woman no. 50 in space!) and Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin (he has 4 missions and 537 days in space in his life!). Their mission was to last 6 months on the International Space Station. 

It is hard to believe, but we SAW THIS LIVE! And no video can describe the feeling in your stomach, when this thunder sound fills every cell of your body! And the stars!! There is no camera which can catch the beauty of the dark night sky and the spaceship thrusting it and slowly turning into just another star up there, only a moving star... This is just such an indescribable beauty! What a blessing that we got to see this once in our lives!

We also visited the Baiconur museum and children climbed into a real landing capsule!

Of course, freedom of time does not necessarily include travelling, not at all.  In some stressful or tiresome moments we can just take free from “school”, sleep in and spend our days... learning differently. For example by reading, watching a documentary, taking a walk in the woods or just sitting on a sofa with a cup of hot chocolate and talking about life. Or visiting an old lady in a nursing home and listen to her stories about the time when she was little... It actually is so that home school is never ending. You almost never can say: now, the school is over, thank you. The kids suddenly realize that learning is something which goes on 24/7! You cannot turn on your brain at 8:30 and turn it off at 3. You learn all the time.

Another time issue is being able to finish what you have started. How many projects lay unfinished at school. How many books are read only partly. How many ideas never come to life. Well, we do have time to finish our projects. Maria for her brother’s birthday has made a hand-written magazine with songs, poems, illustrations, and tales in it. She made an elaborated hand-made dragon game for the whole family. The fact that they are allowed to spend as much time as they need in order to finish their work motivate them a lot.

Another time issue is of course the activities. Our kids were to attend a sport activity and an art one during each semester. That was our plan. The problem is that these activities tend to accumulate and the old activities are not easy to drop. Nevertheless through the years our three kids learnt to swim, to fence, they tried basketball, football, gymnastics, athletics, they go skiing and skating, but not organized. They also were into painting, ceramics, dance, ballet, drama, choir, music of different kinds. (Please keep in mind that this list does not mean that each child tried each activity. No, for example, football and basketball were our oldest daughter's sports, while choir is something only Maria does). Now they stick to fencing (Daniel), science course (Maria), music lessons (both), choir (Maria) and orchestra (both) as their main activities. 

I hope you are not tired of reading because I am going to talk about the big S, socialization, next time. 
Keep posted :)))