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Hi Clabber,

I am a mom of a lifelong homelearner who is in her final year before University.

You have my sympathy! I do not envy you one bit the family dynamic you describe. First, let me say if I had had to homeschool in the way "Gram" expects I would have just given up and walked away from homeschooling altogether. For me the joy in homeschooling is building on and encouraging the child's love of learning, not repeating the spirit-killing busy work that turned me off school as child.

Unfortunately this is going to be a bit of a drive by post but I think that you and I have similar perspectives on homeschooling and I really want to offer what I consider a 3rd alternative from the 2 polar extremes that Paul described.

I practice something that I call Child-led learning. I consider it distinct from unschooling partially because all the folks that I know in the Greater Toronto Area who label themselves as unschoolers are very committed to the extreme that Paul describes. They reject many overtly academic pursuits and from my perspective give up the parental role with regards to education. What you describe in terms of your ideal day is very much on that spectrum, ie using the child's interests and passions as a jumping off point for pursuing academic growth.

From an article I was asked to write for a homeschooing magazine when the viking maiden's achievement
was big news in the Canadian homeschooling community.

"My core values(as an educator) turned out to be; first and foremost a fundamental respect for the learner and the learning process, second the importance of always fostering a student's ownership of the process and third always encouraging an exploratory, joyful and curious approach to learning. "

I have yet to see a pre-packaged curriculum that fits with these core values.

Most kids I've known who have been homeschooled in Gram's fashion, choose to go mainstream school as soon as the choice is available, because they see it as having the down-sides of the school experience with not nearly enough upside.

Child-led education requires courage, hard work and trust in your relationship with your child. It requires an ability to adapt. Most importantly it requires confidence in your abilities as an educator and your vision of education. To me the rewards have been more than worth it.

I'm sure that you will have to work out what actually works for your family but I really wanted you to know that despite the grim picture that is being painted of the potential for academic achievement with a looser approach many have found success with it. 3 of the 4 Colfax kids attended Harvard. The viking maiden is an AP Scholar and a National Biology scholar with distinction. Her SAT scores and in particular her SAT Math subject test and AP calculus scores would suggest that somehow we managed to cover multiplication more than sufficiently.

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