Whenever I tell someone that my 8-year old granddaughter is homeschooled, the response is always the same: “Oh, homeschooling is so isolating!”
People have many misconceptions about homeschooling and until recently, I admit, I did too. A year ago my daughter told me she planned to homeschool her daughter. I wondered if she was making the right decision. My granddaughter completed kindergarten and first grade at a Waldorf charter school and seemed to be getting an excellent education. If my granddaughter was homeschooled, would she miss out on socialization with other children? Would my daughter know what to teach since she was not trained as a teacher?
At the end of this first year of homeschool education, I’m thrilled to report that I’m an enthusiastic convert. My granddaughter has thrived and her teachers—my daughter and son-in-law—have exceeded my expectations in providing her with a diverse education.
This new school year got off to a fantastic start with a 3-day Homeschool Conference in Sacramento, CA, sponsored by the HomeSchool Association of California (HSC.) As a grandma, I had the privilege of attending the conference at no cost. Over 1,000 people attended, ranging in age from a 14-day old baby to a great-grandma, and included 250 workshops and presentations. The conference catalog accurately describes the experience as “celebrating family, friends, and learning in a joyous festival-like atmosphere.”
The experience was like going to summer camp with my two granddaughters and their parents! The depth and breadth of resources available for homeschool education is impressive. There were opportunities to explore homeschooling styles such as Montessori, Classical, Waldorf, Thomas Jefferson Education, and Unschooling.
Each day began with decisions about which of the many workshops we wanted to attend and ended with evening entertainment that included a Dominoes Dance, storytelling, and Contra Dancing. One entertainer I will never forget was Dave the Horn Guy, who dressed in an orange jumpsuit with 25 chromatically tuned bulb-horns attached. The crowd went wild when he played “The Lone Ranger” on them.
While my daughter and son-in-law attended presentations on different teaching strategies, my granddaughters and I enjoyed some of the bounty of imaginative workshop offerings for children. We made our own juggling balls out of rice and balloons then attempted to juggle them. We made hula hoops and practiced twirling them. We learned some fun Improv techniques called “What Are You Doing?,” “Taxi Driver,” and “Statues in a Museum,” taught by a father and his daughter.
We got an incredible aerobic workout in the Aztec dance class. The dad and mom who taught it took turns holding their 4-month old baby while they danced and drummed and chanted! My 8-year old and I learned how to make different kinds of graph charts by doing comparisons of 4 different kinds of candy.
Throughout the day there were craft opportunities to create jewelry, flower fairies, and Frankenstuffies, zombie creatures sewn together from assorted deconstructed stuffed animal parts.
The two highlights of the weekend for me were storyteller Jim Weiss and entrepreneur Sarah Cook of Raising CEO Kids. I was mesmerized as I listened to Jim spin tales of King Solomon, the Gershwin brothers, and Aesop’s classic “The Hare and the Tortoise.” Sarah presented stories of some of the 150 successful young entrepreneurs she interviewed for her new book Raising CEO Kids.
The conference truly inspired me and left me believing that there are many ways to educate children today and homeschooling is one which is definitely worth exploring.