I do dream of homeschooling. I wonder what Ferdinand’s days would be without having to get out of bed everyday at the crack of dawn and coming home with three waking hours left to split between homework, dinner, showering, reading, and playing as fast as he can. Two nights ago he was sitting in front of his buckets of dinosaurs and giant spiders, and he said, “Mom, how do I play with my toys?” I checked his forehead. I tapped his knee to see if his lower leg moved and asked him how many fingers I was holding up. I held his face a few inches from mine to check his breathing. “What do you mean?” I said, “Play with them like that kid in Toy Story.”
I was under cloud cover; words escaped me. He managed to get the dino to eat a grasshopper as big as it’s head and then to bat the grasshopper with a badminton racquet a good ten feet. I canceled reading and let him unleash his war of the plastic giants.
I imagine him eating a hot lunch and learning math by measuring the area of the couch to see how many of his friends can squeeze in it. I am not convinced that “training at an early age is important to prepare us for the things we have to do that we don’t want to do, when we get older.” Maybe what we need, is to learn to always do the things we love to do. No one had to teach me to suffer through years of ballet. No one had to teach me to live in an apartment with no heat and clean chickens for a living in order to live in NYC. No one had to force me to study when I was ready. When I kicked in to loving school I was in college and I made up for every other lost minute.
It would be a beautiful thing if all public schools were set up to teach for the joy of learning. It’s just not possible. It’s a whole lot of crowd management, often unreasonable competition, and hours that can add up to a full time job. I love my son’s school, but the day is too long and there are too many kids in the classroom. There is a community of homeschooler’s big enough in NYC to sustain a hefty education through the efforts and wisdom of others all working together to come up with an alternative. The missing link is me. I know clear as a bell that I can’t homeschool.
No matter what road you take, it is a whole lot of working it out. Take dinner–if you homeschool or if you don’t homeschool, at the end of the day, you still have to make dinner.
I met a woman from New Jersey who homeschools her four children under the age of 12 with no set curriculum. Once a week they go to a homeschool co op, one of the little girls goes to gymnastics once a week, the 12 year old has a chess lesson and they make trips to the beach or the zoo and even Italy. She is with her kids all day, everyday with the exception of one night when she teaches a course at a college. Her husband leaves before the sun is up to get to work and is back home at about 7.
Is there a right and wrong for how to do it?
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