Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Not Back To School Day

A long time ago, I used to be a Mocker of Homeschoolers. It pains me somewhat to admit this, but it's true. People who intentionally stayed home with their kids seemed inexplicably batty to me. I could see no sensible reason for it. Of course, if I'd put any thought into taunting bullies, bad teachers, and the perils of mass education, not to mention all that negative Peer Pressure, I might have been slightly more compassionate, but I doubt it. I've always taken a long time to figure out things. It's one reason why I sympathize with my youngest, Dominic, because he also needs a long time to figure things out (ie: why he should listen to me when I intone "stop wrestling in this store now" for 321st time, say, or even why he really should stop muttering "Don't boss me around" when I ask him to unlock the door for his siblings who are standing in the rain on the other side of the car). Consequences (me grabbing his hand and gripping it like a grim - and humiliating - death all through said store, or siblings shrieking "Why can't you just open the bloody door for a change!" as they drip their way into the car) take a while to percolate through his consciousness. He's not slow, he's just like Chester, he does things his own way ("'That's one way to put it,' said Chester's father"). And so do I.

Which is probably why, even though I've come late to it, I like homeschooling so much. No waking up before the crack of dawn to prepare lunches and breakfasts (we won't get into me getting up before the crack of dawn to write blog posts though, will we); no agonizing over Who Was Shunned Today; no "OMG, he failed Quiet Time!" angst; and finally, no stress over whether or not the teacher likes my children, despite their theatrics, intense energy levels, and precociousness (and no, as "teacher" I do not play favourites, no matter what Max tells you).

My decision to start homeschooling came about rather suddenly. I sort of leaped head first, without thinking too carefully about it (gosh, what a surprise, says Richard). I've written a bit about it before, here and here, but really, it kind of thrust itself upon me. Lest you think me anti-school, I will say that I'm not: all three of my kids attended kindergarten at local schools and all three of them loved it. And one day they may all choose to go back to school. I won't prevent them. But I like what not going to school has done for them: FDPG can read grade 6 level books without anyone saying anything; Dominic can continue to learn to read without anyone saying anything; and Max can, well, continue to be Max without anyone saying anything. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There's all that Other Stuff, stuff like reading really great books aloud to them on wet, rainy mornings (instead of racing to school), or making chocolate chip muffins with - gasp - peanut butter in them for lunch (instead of racing to school), and let's not forget the moments when they play charmingly together (instead of racing to school). This is definitely one of the aspects I like best about the homeschooling community: the fact that all ages can usually hang out together without conflict, grimaces, or angst.

Yes, we get a lot of "But what about SOCIALIZATION?" comments, mostly from people who just don't know better, some way more well-meaning than others. And yes, we get a lot of "Aren't you worried in case they aren't at grade level?" remarks usually from VCP (Very Competitive People). And finally, there are the relatives who think I am sheltering them too much, but I tend to avoid these people as much as possible. I have enough angst over my parenting style without worrying about what I might be doing to my kids' intellects! But mostly we get a lot of "What nice/polite/charming/helpful/well-spoken children!" remarks, some sounding more surprised than others.

It may be too that I have developed a really thick skin, or the fact that I live in a part of the world where homeschooling is considered a trendy educational option, or I'm just good at ignoring things, but I don't notice too many negative remarks these days. When people tell me how privileged we are that we can choose this kind of option for our kids, I always agree, although I am quick to point out that it has its down sides: I don't contribute to a pension plan, we are frequently scraping the bottom of our bank account, and I often feel a certain frustration of over my own dearth of free time. It's a trade-off, as with most things, but one I like so far. So do the kids.

So here's to another Not Back To School week! Happy trails homeschooling to you all.


Nicola said...

And happy homeschooling to you too. Have a great September!

denise said...

Happy not-back-to-school to you too! :)

Mary-Sue said...

okay, why am i only just finding your blog???
LOVE it! what a fabulous post.

Maureen said...

I loved this post!