There are SOOOOO many different categories floating around out there for homeschoolers to choose from – classical homeschooling, school at home, Charlotte Mason, eclectic, Christian homeschooling, secular, unschooling, Montessori just for a few!
You might fall into one category more than any others or if you have things from different types then you might be eclectic homeschoolers. Which is what we are- take a little bit from “different styles” for what it works for us.
We also fit into another category – vegan homeschooling.
Because of the rise in popularity in the vegan diet ( although it should be referred to as plant-based not vegan. even Oprah tried it!) there is a misconception that it’s just that, a diet just about what one eats and drinks.
Diet is only one part of the vegan lifestyle, though.
Vegans strive to avoid animal products as much as possible – in the food we eat, the clothes we wear(no leather/fur/wool/ suede anything that comes from an animal), the health and beauty products we use(makeup body wash deodorant toothpaste shampoo), entertainment that would choose not to take part in (like the circus or Aquarium) the household cleaners we use etc.
As eclectic homeschoolers, life is education, so of course our vegan lifestyle plays a big role.
My daughter’s learning experience is not limited to textbook learning, standardized tests, and early morning bus rides.
While our school experience does include books & workbook learning, it goes so far beyond that.
Food is part of our homeschool. I am teaching my daughter to cook – we only cook all vegan food here, so we do a lot of from-scratch cooking using all natural ingredients.
My daughter is learning what foods we do and do not eat and most importantly WHY, what ingredients are okay for us to use, alternatives we can use, how to do things like press tofu and safely cut vegetables.
Eating a lot of processed foods is not exactly her normal. She is learning what real food is from gardening although we haven’t been able to start one since we moved a couple months ago we’re going to start hopefully at the end of December when we get our own place) and how to prepare it.
From gardening she gets to see food growing in the dirt, she participates in watering, weeding, picking, and then she gets to eat the final product.
Navigating the social aspect of eating is also something that is a daily learning process for us. In our culture, food is a central part of birthday parties, holidays, social gatherings, etc. Because most of the food offered at these gatherings are not vegan, learning how to navigate the social implications of our lifestyle is necessary. This may be politely refusing an offer of non-vegan food, bringing a substitution when possible to gathering/vegan snacks or if necessary, doing without food when no other options are available until the event is over.
Raising children with an understanding of why we don’t eat animal products is so essential.
Our daughter understands why we sometimes don’t eat when others do, because the food contains “animals/stuff from animals”.
If we just gave her a big ol’ list of “NO” foods without an age-appropriate reason, she could easily be resistant or resentful.
We incorporate humane education into our homeschool curriculum. Lily-rain understands that we do not eat animals because of the way they are treated and because there are plenty of other options to be healthy without hurting animals. Treating living beings with respect is something that we stress in our daily life. Even the products that we use I make sure is cruelty free such as non beeswax crayons, vegan friendly paint etc.
We also stress living a gentler lifestyle and being mindful of our footprint on our planet by recycling bottles and cans,walking or taking the bus, bringing tote bag when going shopping etc.
Our humane education does extend to humans – we cannot come at people from a place of judgment and expect them to accept or embrace our lifestyle.
Education, compassion, doing our best daily – these are the ways that vegan ideals are passed on.
We have a mixed household – the children and I are vegan but my spouse is omnivorous, so this is important. While we have rules, our daughter does see consumption of animal products on occasion by dad. Our daughter, while she does ask daddy to not eat animals, she is also learning to be compassionate and understand that some people do eat animal products, but that it is more productive to educate our friends and family on veganism than to pass judgment.
One very important part of our education is understanding the importance of the choices we make. As vegans, we sometimes do without certain things – food, health and beauty products, types of clothing. Luckily it hasn’t been much of an issue especially in regards to birthday presents and stuff for her since most people are really respectful of our decision. In homeschooling, our choices also extend to educational opportunities – we do not participate in homeschool days at the aquarium or the Honolulu zoo, and pass on social outings to petting zoos, circuses and rodeos. Instead we find opportunities that are more in line with our ethics – we love the botanical gardens,beach/ Lagoons,crafts at park, hiking,children’s museum/discovery center, and would love to go to a farm animal sanctuary again here.
Like most homeschoolers, we do a lot of reading. I try to include books that feature vegetarian or vegan characters, and cover topics such as kindness to animals(we LOVE Ruby Roth books!!) and living a more natural lifestyle. It is helpful to have reading choices where our lifestyle is encouraged, and reinforces our beliefs & morals. This is no different from seeking out books (or even tv shows) that feature homeschooled characters, so that our homeschooling lifestyle is not seen as anything but normal.
Our goal for homeschooling our child (children??) is to raise compassionate, educated, independent thinkers,life long learners with a strong awareness of the world around us, and with a kind heart. I think that incorporating vegan based education for morals into our homeschool will help us accomplish this.