Monday, June 15, 2009

June 15, 2009: Do you like homeschooling?

First, a semantics disclaimer: the word "homeschooling" for me does not say anything about our "homeschooling style", just that our children don't attend traditional school, public or private! We're fairly relaxed, which translates to wildy disorganized in the eyes of the highly structured, yet far too structured in the eyes of the true "free-learners." I can live with that. :-) Anyway, as I was saying...

Last week, with the whole family in the car, and for no particular reason, I asked my oldest daughter (Marie, 11 years and 9 months old) if she likes being homeschooled. She said, "Umm...yeah, I guess so." I asked why, and she said because she hates getting up early. (She went to public school for six months in third grade, nearly four years ago, and yes, she hated getting up every single school day of those six months.) I asked if she would want to go to school if she could start at, say, at 10:00, and she said maybe. Then I told her that it's really okay to say what she thinks, that I wasn't trying to get her to answer what she might think I would like to hear, but that I really wanted to know. So she went on to say that at school she really liked art class and misses that, and she enjoyed recess and playing with the other children, and the rest was okay except for P.E. We talked about it a little longer and she admitted she likes math at home better (that surprised me--at the time, she seemed quite happy with the ridiculously easy busywork, not bothered in the slightest by not being challenged), and she likes all the reading we do, and she likes having lots of time to read on her own. It came down to that if she could do "flexi-schooling", which I recently read about in a book called "Free-range Education", she would probably like that very much, but that if that's not an option, homeschooling is better than going to school, although kind of in a "lesser of two evils" type of way. Not very encouaraging, really, but a good chat.

Then I turned to my 10-year-old son, Jacob, and asked him the same question. From him came the enthusiastic, "YES!! Of course!" I asked why, and he said, "Because I can get up when I want to and read what I want to and learn what I want to and however I want to and wherever I want to and I can think what I want to and say what I want to and nobody teases me and I can play with the friends I want to play with and do the things I want to do." I purposely didn't put any punctuation in there, because he definitely didn't use any while speaking! We talked a bit more, but there wasn't much more to say. From my point of view, he totally "gets" why we're homeschooling. (He attended first grade for six months, at the same time Marie was in third grade.)

Just to finish off, I asked my nearly-seven-year-old son, Lukas, if he likes being homeschooled, and the little ham said, "Yes, because I get to spend more time with my mother." As a friend of mine wrote on her blog about her son a few weeks ago, he would probably make a great politician, but we have higher hopes for him. I did talk a bit more with Lukas, but as he's never been to school, he doesn't have anything to compare it to, and it boiled down to the fact that he's quite happy with his life.

Then Katie (will be four next month) said, "Mommy, you didn't ask me!" so I said, "Okay, Katie, do you like being homeschooled?" She put on her silly little "I'm-pretending-to-be-shy-because-so-many-people-think-that's-cute" face and said, "Yes." I dutifully continued with, "Why do you like it?" and she said, "Because I get to do math!" When Lukas finished Earlybird 2B several months ago, Katie took over his book, constantly asking me to do it with her. I finally got her her own book, Earlybird 1A, a few weeks ago, which was a bit silly, because she finished half of the book in about three sittings. Whatever.

Just to be silly, I then turned to Helen, nine months old, and said, "So, Helen, do you want to be homeschooled, too?" and Marie responded extremely emphatically, "Yes, definitely!" I was rather surprised, after her own rather wishy-washy response, and asked why she was so sure that Helen would like being homeschooled. Marie's response, "Because Helen has strong opinions." Very interesting. I asked then if one can't have strong opinions at school, and Marie got kind of quiet again and finally said, "Well, yes, but you can't do anything about them. You're sort of supposed to think the same things the other kids think, and like the same things and have the same things, and you're not really supposed to like math or like the teachers or anything like that." I asked her if she didn't have any strong opinions herself, and she said she does now, and wouldn't let people change them anyway, but that would be one reason she wouldn't want to go to school ALL the time, because it would be too exhausting keeping her own opinions.

Insightful, I thought, and rather more encouraging than the first conversation with Marie! Overall, my children like homeschooling. :-)