I never saw myself as someone who would homeschool my child. Looking back I would say I found myself on this path mostly because I like to challenge the status quo. I listened to a TED talk many years ago about a man who started asking questions till they changed the way they worked in their organization which led to them asking more questions and they decided to rethink the way education is done today but at the time I didn’t think too much of it, little did I know that a seed was sown.

When my son turned 1, it was the natural order of things to having the ‘school’ conversation and I had already started school shopping. I went to different schools in the area to plan for him when he is 18 months to start. I only saw one Montessori school that I really liked but when I got the bill I just couldn’t understand. I just kept wondering what is he going to school from 8-12 (Which included nap time) to learn for almost half a million naira per term? We had been doing activities at home since he was a baby and my first thought was, I can do this till he is about 5, this led me into the journey of research on homeschooling.

I quickly began to feel insecure and inadequate because almost every mom I saw online sharing on their homeschooling journey had an early years education background. I didn’t have any knowledge and here I was thinking I could take on this huge responsibility of educating my child at home. I decided to continue my school search but I didn’t give up on my homeschooling research, one of the things I felt was working against me was my country. In Nigeria, there is little public information about homeschooling in this country, the approach to take, how to start, what needs to be in place and I relied mostly on bloggers and youtube channel of people who lived abroad and of course everyone wants to sell you something so it was back to the drawing board.

I am the kind of person who loves structure, I love to know what I need to do so I can arrange it neatly in my head before I execute it, so when I found someone on youtube who detailed how she was going to use Abeka curriculum to homeschool her preschool daughter, you could’ve imagined my joy! This was the beginning of me forming my philosophy on education. I took screenshots (She shared some part of the lesson plans on her youtube), wrote down everything I saw her doing and after that, I incorporated “Circle time” into our daily routine.

Based on the article (A simple guide to homeschooling) that was posted on this blog from an early years educator I formed a ‘curriculum’ but I noticed something, my son - it felt too much for him, I know he was over 18 months at the time but I knew he couldn’t handle it (you know how it feels when they give your child a lot of homework and you have to call the teacher? That’s how I felt). He had his style of learning that was not the conventional sit-and-listen like I expected, while he surprised me by what he could repeat back to me, it didn’t feel right. I have always had the ideology that children will naturally learn to do things at their developmental pace as against forcing them to learn when they are not ready, it might be successful but you had to go through a frustrating process to get the results e.g sleep training, potty training etc.

My son knows the alphabets, numbers, colours all from watching it on youtube because it was always on repeat and he watched every day. I realised that if I kept repeating it, he will know it but will he really learn it? Will he have a love for learning? These are some of the questions I had that I didn’t have answers to. I needed to still cure my insecurities about not sending my child to a traditional school, so I found Popp Lagos and Alternative learning centre. I missed my appointment for Popp but I went in for a free session at the alternative learning centre and I was sold! I still had the strong desire to homeschool my son but by now, I was too sure he wasn’t going to a traditional school till I got a hang of this education thing.

I cured my guilt by enrolling into alternative learning centre once a week and was stuck up in looking for the best curriculum to fit my child’s needs or even find out what he needed at this stage and I always came up short and I kept sinking in a hole of activities and supposedly free resources that ended up useless.

2 events have been a pivotal part of where I am now in learning about homeschooling. Because I am a very structured person I really wanted to get a hold of exactly what I needed from an ‘authority’ so to speak like a “Tell me what to do exactly” but I just came back with much more confusing information which led me to talk to Damilola, one of the founders of the learning centre. She cured me of my guilt of thinking that I was going to damage my child for life by not taking him to school and showed me that I was actually on the right path, she made me see learning for my son in a different light. While I could have activities, schedule and routine but all I needed to do was involve him in our everyday life, the things I do mindlessly e.g climbing the stair are learning opportunities for him all I needed to do was speak to him about it and involve him. I started researching in that direction.  

I listened to that TED talk again and other speaking engagements Ricardo Semlar had made and I knew I had to build a play-based foundation of learning for my son. I have seen online in various forms how ‘play-based’ is like making academic work fun to some people but in my research, I have seen that it is not supposed to be about learning academic work in a fun way but actually learning through the play (as simple as that)

I found a blog that encouraged people who want to homeschool to first understand their educational philosophy as it plays a very important role in you defining how to educate your child. Which also led me to ask myself what I think about education and what it means for my children. I looked back at my life and see how red marks on my report card defined if I was intelligent or not, I see how it affected myself-esteem which in turn didn’t even make me want to make the effort in school but I don’t want that for my son, so I had to let go of the type of play-based learning that was about academics and trust the process of what play-based learning is really about. I am not an education expert nor have a degree in early years education, I have gained knowledge by painstaking research, asking questions and feeling inadequate and I know there are people who are out there who might not be able to do what I do but also have the desire to homeschool their children. I have something in the works that will cater to those people and I really cannot wait to share.
My education philosophy is evolving but I do know what I do not want for my children and it’s the traditional education system what I do want is not set in stone yet but roughly here it is “I want to raise a curious, lifelong learner who is willing to express himself without inhibition” I know that it will still evolve as I gain more knowledge but till then, I am trusting the process.

What is your educational philosophy?