I’ve recently started homeschooling my 11- and 12-year old girls. Not through any burning desire to shun the system, or any distaste for public teaching, but to accommodate their burgeoning acrobatic gymnastics schedule as they train for international competition. Thankfully, I’m not left to my own devices with their whole curriculum. They have 2 days a week of structured schooling at a co-op and 3 days with me as I marshal homework and other enrichment.
I have to tell you that faced with the frightening responsibility of getting their education right, I find I’m more excited about my children’s potential than ever. We are reading aloud together, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day, books that hum with adventure, daring, and good deeds. We nature-walk, choosing insects and plants that capture their interest, finding them in a handbook as we go. We cook and paint. Our quiet time is truly contemplative, a time for recharging busy bodies and minds. None of these things we could do with any traction before as their time was always taken elsewhere, behind closed doors, in very structured space.
They have both had at least 6 years of public elementary school. They co-op with 50 other kids and have their best friends at the gym, so I don’t worry about socialization or character development. I do worry about them keeping pace academically with their contemporaries nationwide, and I guess we have various forms of standardized testing open to us to help us evaluate that.
What I am truly grateful for is the chance to fully participate in the intellectual growth of my kids. If they must be corrected, it is with the consistency of someone who has time, love, and sufficient knowledge of the child to follow through with measured consequences. I have the time, interest, and motivation to meet my own child’s mental and physical needs. It takes an exceptional teacher – and I have taught, in community college and university settings – to get to the core of those issues and get that right on an individual basis. For most, that is a level of engagement too far, both in terms of personal comfort and logistical pragmatics.
So, I will keep you posted! Our home has changed from being mostly a place of retreat at the end of a hard day of sensory assault, to being the crucible in which the excitement happens, concepts take shape, and ideas about life and the world take form. Lightbulbs go on and there is joy! It is a change I plan to embrace moment by moment.