We have followed a natural parenting style in raising our daughter (gentle discipline, extended breastfeeding, babywearing, etc). I can see a very natural progression from the way my husband and I have raised her so far to the way we hope to educate her now and in the future. It makes so much sense to me to continue the respectful relationship we have formed with her by keeping her at home and allowing her to learn at her own pace. I love exploring the world with her, and watching her excitement as she learns and grows.
I have been inspired by many authors (more than I could possibly list here), and especially loved Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason. Here is one of my favorite quotes:
"Someone who has a core of faith in himself and an underlying conviction that he's a good person doesn't thereby become more likely to sit around and do nothing. There's not a shred of evidence that unconditional self-esteem promotes laziness, or that to have high standards you must feel lousy about yourself for failing to meet them. To the contrary, people who know they're loved irrespective of their accomplishments often end up accomplishing quite a lot. Being accepted without conditions helps them to develop a healthy confidence in themselves, a sense that it's safe to take risks and try new things. From deep contentment comes the courage to achieve." Alfie KohnI am so thankful for the five years that I spent teaching public high school because I had a lot of time to think about what I did and did not want to do with my children. I tried a lot of different things in my five years of teaching, some things that worked and others that definitely didn't. Teaching is a trial and error process, and I am grateful to have five years of trial and error under my belt so I don't feel like I'm starting completely from scratch.
Now that I'm embarking on this homeschooling journey with my daughter, I am slowly forming my own philosophy on how I would like to set up a learning environment in our home. I am drawing inspiration from so many different sources - books, online forums, blogs, etc. I know my philosophy will evolve as I continue to research and learn more about different methods, and as I watch my daughter mature and respond to the learning environments we create.
So far, my teaching experience and research have led me toward child-led styles of learning. Right now we use a Montessori-style education because of the focus on following the child and giving the child choice in what and when they want to learn. The idea of the "Inner Teacher" totally resonates with me - I truly believe that M will learn what she needs to learn when she needs to learn it, and I need to do my best to support her and stay out of her way to let her learn. Here are a few quotes that have inspired me lately:
"Early learning should be a natural, fun process of exploration, discovery, and gradual mastery of skills. Pressure and stress have no place in early learning." Montessori at Home by John Bowman
"So we found that education is not what the teacher gives: education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual. It is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences upon the environment." Maria Montessori
"Montessori is not about adult-designed lesson plans and learning sequences. Montessori is not about what you need to be comfortable or feel that you are accomplishing something. Montessori is about trusting that every child has an Inner Teacher; and that there is already an intelligent design for the unfolding of their development. Young children are not aimless, empty vessels who must rely on us to fill them up with knowledge and wisdom. They arrive on earth fully equipped to absorb their environment and learn how to function in it. Whether adults help children much or not, they all learn to walk, talk, think, control their bodies, and begin learning at least the rudiments of math and language in their early years." Montessori at Home by John BowmanI am amazed at what an inquisitive, intelligent child my daughter is. My greatest hope is to foster that sense of excitement about learning, and to encourage her to remain as curious about the world as she is today.