My daughters started out in the school system. My eldest, Angel, soaked up information like a sponge and was reading by the age of 3. She just loved to learn and was excited to start “big school.“ Unfortunately, her ability to pick everything up so quickly became a problem as they couldn't keep up with it and she was bored, literally to tears, before half of the school year was done. Basically, she learns however the knowledge comes to her. Some methods might be slower to sink in, but they'll get there in the end.
My youngest, Izzy, was completely different. I often ended up teaching her at home so she could understand the work she was given in school. I've since come to learn that she is probably a right brain learner and often learns things in a different order to the way that schools like to teach. She learns better given a more visual and hands on approach.
I took my daughters out of school just before Angel's, 10th birthday, to start homeschooling them. I'd read about deschooling, which is having a couple of months out for them to get the school routines out of their system. However, they were eager to start, so we only had a couple of weeks out to make the most of Angel's birthday. Unfortunately, my own school conditioning came into action and while Angel lapped everything up, because it was new and therefore exciting, I got off to a bad start with Izzy.
My own school experience wasn't too mainstream, because I went to a Waldorf school, but when my daughters were in school I'd helped out and the teacher “educated” me as to the traditional schooling methods. So off I went with the girls to the library and got Izzy started on the levels reading books. Angel was already way beyond that and got to pick any books she wanted. I soon learnt that Izzy hated those reading levels books with a passion, and it wasn't long before she refused to read anything.
There were fights, tears and I had no idea what to do. I didn't want her to not enjoy reading and miss out on the chance to enjoy a wonderful array of stories. Eventually we reached a compromise. I told her that she had to choose 4 books, whenever we went to the library. She should choose anything that looked like it might appeal to her and if she really didn't like it after the first few pages, then she didn't have to continue reading it. It took several trips, but she did finally find a series of children's books she enjoyed.
Over the years, we tried various learning styles. We started out doing school at home, with a Waldorf flavour. Then we migrated more towards learning through play. I think we ended up just saying we did eclectic learning, because the girls pretty much lead with their own input on how they wanted to learn. We’d start a learning method they enjoyed, then they'd get bored, so we'd try something else. Sometimes it was workbooks, sometimes learning through creating things. Not surprisingly, they particularly liked online programmes and learning games.
In the early days we'd join in with homeschool educational trips, but they were often aimed at a much younger age group, so the girls didn't always enjoy them or feel like they gained much from them. They much preferred spending time with some homeschooled friends they made, who lived nearby and were closer to their age. This foursome became almost inseparable and taught each other so much. It was hard on everyone when the family moved to another state.
Having the girls lead how they wanted their learning to go worked well, up until the last couple of years. Angel wanted to go on to university, so we got in touch with them and they told us that the Math Track course would allow her to enter university with her not having her high school certificate. So she was able to do what she wanted and worked for a while, as long as she focused on completing the course. For someone who was used to everything coming easy to her, she found the course much harder than expected, but got through it eventually and went to England for a few months of life learning. Then she was told that the course was no longer a pathway to university. So she had to wait until her 18th birthday and take the STAT entry test, but finally she was in. She was learning topics that were mostly way beyond me, so I was grateful she was able to manage it all herself.
Izzy doesn't want to go to university. She'd do better in an apprenticeship environment, but she won't be able to do one until the year after she turns 17. So what to do until then. With the employment environment the way it is, she'd probably be better off with some sort of certification behind her to have a chance of being accepted into an apprenticeship. So we face the challenge of formal education for a girl who always struggled with it. However, we may have finally found a compromise with Inventorium. She will still have to jump through the SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education) hoops, but they try to do it in a way that is nothing like school and links the student's interests to the compulsory SACE subjects. To do this we will need to sign up with Open Access College. It's nerve wracking for both of us, because I know she'll likely need more support from myself through it. I hope I'm up to the task. It’s been a long time since I studied at this level.