About Homeschooling

When I was young (naive/immature/hadn’t traveled), I assumed homeschooled kids were weirdos.  I’d only known 2 and they were being raised in the Jehovah’s Witness religion.  They had a unique way about them.   I extrapolated that to all homeschoolers.

To myself, “Oh my goodness, never.  Why would anyone do that to a kid?”

I also have it on good authority from multiple sources that I claimed I was never going to have kids.  I don’t remember saying that.  Maybe I was drinking?  Maybe they were all drinking?  All the time?  There was a lot of drinking going on in my 20s.  Who knows…

As is almost always the case when I use that annoying word never, I’ve arrived at the time to eat my words.  Happens again and again and yet I still catch myself using it.  Will I never learn?!?!!

Here’s my take.  The current normal kinda sucks in some ways.  So does weird but since I’m forced to choose…. we’re going with the latter.  We’re homeschooling. We’re going those weirdos.

I come from a long, proud history of public school teachers.  My choice in no way reflects a bad judgment about the quality of today’s teachers.  They are the nation’s most undervalued, absolutely critical resource and they deserve our highest regard and proudest honor (more so than gross doctors… but that’s a different discussion).  If only the shackles could be thrown off, the number of students in each classroom lowered and government got out of the way with all that horrible testing…. magic could happen.

I just have a vision of something different for us.  I want it deeply for Evie and Jack and I’m excited about it for me and Scott.

Homeschooling is a lot daunting.  The Con Column is substantial.  To start, I have no teaching credentials.  I don’t know how to build a curriculum.  As one buddy astutely pointed out, “You can’t I possibly know enough about each subject to teach it!”  My response, “Thanks, Pal. Us dummies need to stick together.”

All joking aside, his point is a valid one. I also worry about socialization and making sure they don’t turn into people who can’t read social cues from peers.

The weight is real.

Thankfully, I was gifted a robust self-confidence that is borderline overconfident.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad.)  Ditto for Scott.  (Thanks, Mike and Denise.)

Confidence is obviously not the only requirement.  Equally as important, I have Team Back-Up. They’re on call (and motivated to show up quick).  If the wheels look like they’re coming off, these are the people who will take me out behind the shed and beat the snot out of me (and hopefully some sense into me).  Thank you in advance to these mentors, guides and trusted advisors:

Mom taught 1st and 2nd graders for over 25 years.  My uncle taught and principled kids from ages 4 – 18 for over 30 years.  My aunt taught middle school kids art.  Close family friends with a rich history working with children (looking at you Ray and Mary, Theolyn, Jody) will be asked to provide observations as we go.  I have selected a discerning, not-entirely-convinced-this-homeschool-thing-is-a-great-idea-but-initially-willing-to-be-receptive Board of Directors for our “private school”.  I will be held accountable.

Here are our ultimate goals – our mission statement more or less:

  • Grow lifelong learners
  • Maintain the joy in learning (it’s precious and I’ve lost it before)
  • Pursue interests – go deep when there’s motivation
  • Whole brain learning – meshing art, science, history, language (English, Spanish, other, music, sign), cooking, math, tools, interviews and all kinds of other goodness.
  • Play is our anchor – play is learning and learning is play.*

* When I was at university one of my friends, let’s call him Greg (because it’s his real name), was the smartest guy in physics.  He loved what we were learning.  He got the horrible, nightmare-level math associated with Waves and Oscillations.  He got it because he enjoyed it.  It was play to him.  {Weirdo.}  Play is the key.

Scott and I are attending our first homeschool conference.  We got in for free because the kids are Pre-K.  I meant for it to be a few days of dipping my toe.   Unfortunately, turns out the host organization is a ministry so I’ve jumped into the deep end of religion.  This is challenging and uncomfortable for me but I’m here so I’m trying…

One observation (because I just can’t help myself).  My ass is seriously chapped at a new term I’ve learned, “science-neutral”, whereby some publications don’t include “controversial” topics (dinosaurs, the age of the earth). Piss Off.  I can’t even…  piss… off…

Final thought.  We needed a name for our school.  I choose MJL Academy of Intrinsic Learning in honor of my dad. He came from humble beginnings (even had to clean the outhouse as a kid!!!).  School wasn’t really his thing – hello, irony.  But he was an exceptional student of the real world.  He was a gifted leader.  He fostered grit, a strong work ethic and integrity to get the job done right.  He also had a wicked sense of humor.  Those are the core values of our private school.  If I can demonstrate and nurture those values to the kids, introduce them to the world and step out of the way to let natural learning take place and instill in them the desire to question/research as a scientist, well then I think we have a shot at holding onto the joy of learning.

 

Traci Warren