Homeschooling in France, Part 2

Homeschooling in France

Nature Walk in Gineset, France

When we began our homeschooling journey, Bean and I had some intense days of struggle. It was her will against mine. I am the adult, so I determined to win. I am also a planner. I had a list of educational milestones that I wanted her to accomplish in a certain time. I read that others had done it,why not us? As with the beginning of most things, it was slow. I needed a little while to figure out the simplest way to implement independent learning with Bean. I am a minimalist after all.

After a few months, I was feeling a little discouraged. Bean was getting pressured to perform by other people in her life. I knew that we did not have the option of enrolling into schools all over the country. It would also be a shame to let her skip school at this age. Her mental capacity is practically limitless. So I continued on.

A few weeks ago, after the mean man incident, as we call it, I had the time to reflect and review. Bean is doing great!I wasn’t sure when we would get to this day. Her work in all areas that I focused on show considerable progress. She is not bogged down with schoolwork. She has a few important things to do. She knows what they are and she does them. Every day is not an easy one where she sits at the table and tackles her work,but the work is getting better. The difficulty sometimes lies in the fact that there are children who are outside playing or taking breaks when she is doing her work, but the joy comes in knowing that she is making progress.

Bean is reading better than she has ever read. As she finishes every new story, and I clap my hands for her, she is so proud of the work she has completed. As she uses her brain to do her math problems and realizes that she CAN do math, she is proud of herself. As she works on her cursive writing and sees that she can read cursive and write like her mother, she is proud of herself. It isn’t much. It isn’t rocket science, but the simple act of learning has given her confidence in herself. I wish this for all children who home school in France and around the world. Simple tasks that exercise their brains and increase their knowledge of the world, so they too are proud of themselves.

Our home school program is simple. We work only on the basics. We need time to get out and explore after all. We focus on reading, writing, math and foreign language. Bean writes in cursive from one of the stories that we already completed so that the words stay fresh in her mind. She then copies a new writing sample from a book she enjoys reading. Then she reads it. For math, Bean does a bit of review. She is introduced to one new math concept a week. This is the goal, though we don’t always reach it.

Often, foreign language seems like the simplest task of the day. Bean just needs to talk to people or play with children. If there is no one around with whom we can interact, Bean plays games and watches language learning videos. This,of course, is her favorite activity of the day. I try to save it till the end of our homework time so that she is inspired to continue working.

I wish I could say that even though we have our routine down, we never have problems. However, children like adults, have off days. There are days when Bean does not wish to get out of the bed. There are days when she takes her math papers and crumples them up. There are days when she sits at the table and draws a million pictures. I have to take the long-term view that inch by inch, learning is a cinch. It seems the inches add up slowly, but in time, they become miles.

Homeschooling in France, like any other place we might be in the world, takes time and patience for success. I am committed to the education of my daughter. Not just for her to know about people and cultures around the world,but also for her to know how to count, read and write. I am thankful that as a minimalist, focusing on only the essentials, has made the process easier. When we return to traditional schooling, I will look back on this time with pride knowing we did our best!

10 Comments on “Homeschooling in France, Part 2

  1. Dear Candace,

    Hello from South Carolina!! I homeschooled two different times-once with one daughter and once with both. I too was surprised with what I saw in the unschooling community. There were a few wonderful families who seemed to teach content, manners and an open world view. But most did not and so I could not emulate their model. I ended up “overschooling”. My Mother holds her PhD from Cornell in Early Childhood Education. My Sister is an Elementary School Principal. Both my in-laws are teachers. To say they were horrified at the very thought of homeschooling is an understatement. Thus, the over schooling. I had something to prove to them (and to myself) that we could do it RIGHT. There were many wonderful moments but there was also a lot of stress that I put on myself to create the perfect curriculum plan for each child.

    I love your idea of minimalist homeschooling. You live your life as close to your core as possible. And you do this out of joy and reverence for the life you have been given…and your wonderful, beautiful Bean! I had never heard of minimalism back when I homeschooled but I love the framework you’ve put around both!

    My Mother took my sister and me out of school for several days when we were maybe 1st and 4th graders. She took us to NYC to visit my Godmother who lived in Manhattan and to tour museums, parks and the zoo. She apologized to the Principal and his response was, “you are giving your children the kind of education I wish we could give all our children.” And so, to you I would say the same thing….the education you are giving Bean is what I wish ALL our children could experience.

    I wish there was another word for what you are doing because it’s not homeschooling. You have redefined both home and school. But of all the lessons you teach Bean, your courage and open heart are surely the most valuable. You inspire me Candace!!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, words and life with all of us!

    In Gratitude,

    • Beth,
      Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your words of encouragement come at the right time.
      I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me.
      I too come from a family of educators, but also people who value lifelong independent
      learning. No worries there.
      It’s during those moments of self doubt that come after a difficult day. I will remember
      that you said this is a good education. =)

  2. Dear Candace
    Thank you so much for sharing your stories. By reading the them, just like i’m going to class learning something valuable . This is indeed the class outside of the classroom, Just let you know i’m really enjoying reading them !
    I really miss you and Bean (♡˙︶˙♡)
    Best regards !

    • Thank you Sharon. We miss you as well. We were speaking of how
      we miss the candy store in Chinatown…well, Bean does!

  3. I’m enjoying reading about this topic. I feel school education everywhere is getting worse.

    Do you know the children’s story When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr? The protagonist is 9 yrs old when the story begins but it’s a great introduction to history (WWII) as well as the concept of living in a foreign country and learning to cope in a foreign language – first Swiss German then French, as it happens. As a child living in a foreign-to-me country I loved this book and identified with it quite a lot. Perhaps Bean would enjoy it, too!
    (Later, the story continues and is a 4-part series of true stories, but that is more for adolescents. The author became an artist famous for the Mog cat books for young children…she is now well into her 90s.)

  4. I’m so very proud of both of you. ???. Traditional schooling is difficult, home schooling is more difficult and home schooling in a foreign country is the most difficult!!!!
    Keep up your great work!!!!!!
    Love’n hugs, Patti

  5. The essentials are all that is needed. Everything else comes from experiences in the real world. I love how you thoroughly process life around you and then share it with us. You’re doing a great job with Bean. Keep it up! Much love from Texas.

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