I was home-schooled…and publicly schooled. Probably close to half and half, in the end, although I never did my work in public school because it was so redundant and boring and I’d rather talk and draw, lol. I essentially flunked out of High School, although was bright enough to be awarded a college scholarship based on my GED scores. I even eventually started college, but with no real intent to make a career out of anything, it seemed pointless so I dropped out during my first semester.
In school I was the weird kid who got terrible grades and was still teacher’s pet. I loved learning, asked loads of questions, stayed behind after school to do extra projects and avoid the other kids, who tended to relentlessly tease me. In the classes where I WASN’T teacher’s pet, I tended to be paired with challenged kids since no one wanted me in their group. I was horribly bullied in most schools, and on the fringes in the rest.
So many home schooling parents’ stories sound similar to mine. A mixture of intelligence, awkwardness, and rebellion that makes for a poor traditional school experience, but such seems to be the personality of my generation, at least. We want to do it our way, the better way, the home-grown way. We want to bake our own bread, birth our own children, build our own homes, carve out our own place. There is a fundamental distrust of the government that seems to grow with the deficit. Or maybe that is just the bunch I hang out with. 😛
Anyways, for better or worse, long before I had kids I knew I would stay home with them and teach them myself. Where other mothers were counting down the days and arguing to get their kids in school sooner, I was plotting ways to keep mine to myself, experimenting with jobs I could do from home. My little ones started getting bigger though and suddenly I didn’t know whether I was really cut out for the job. My son seemed “behind”…he had no desire to learn…he’d rather do anything other than look at letters in a book.
I had no idea I was teaching him wrong. See, my oldest is an engineer. He wants to build things and put them together…take things apart…discover how and why they work. In some ways, he is like me. It is not enough that an A is an A. WHY is it an A? How do you put it together? Wow, it’s put together almost exactly like an H!
This last summer I watched him a lot. I began to see him in some ways for the very first time, saw how he played when there were few toys. I saw him gather logs and sticks and rocks and build with them, watched him find and trap bugs and look for minnows and eat foraged foods. I was amazed at how much he and his brother were learning every day, with no effort at all to teach them anything. Sure, we read books and whatever, but mostly, they ran and played from sunrise to sunset, before crashing hard and sleeping all night. I felt like for the first time I was really watching humans grow in a real environment. Of course, that was just a stage…they eventually calmed down and hung out closer to “camp”, but that was so timely…the weather was beginning to switch gear into fall and chillier weather meant that school was now in session. 🙂
Now, it is not super cold outside, almost always above freezing. We do not HAVE to stay inside, but I prefer it mostly, with the mud that is everywhere in this clime. Folks tend to look askance at dirty kids, no matter what time of year. We do art. We do writing and singing and letters and playdough and cleaning. We build pillow forts and cook meals and basically, the kids join me in life…entice me to live more.
But guess what? For some reason I find more time for school related stuff…because I feel differently about what constitutes school. And the boys…BOTH of them! are learning more than they were. And I am learning more, too! It’s crazy and fun and all kinds of liberating. I wouldn’t call it “unschooling” because we do workbooks and I like having a basic plan of what we are doing for each day…but it is not nearly like regular school either, our days are so fluid and natural feeling. What we do is relaxed and crazy and somehow, it works. Somehow, they are learning without it feeling like work for me, or them.
I like school now.