Monday, January 3, 2011

Return of the Staybattical Part II: Homeschool Edition

Today Sons #1 and #3 return to their normal non-vacation rituals and duties.  The elder is off to his Junior High and the younger is on his way to daycare.  Son #2 (aka "Norm") is, of course, continuing our one-year homeschool adventure.

One of the deals we made with each other was that when I was at work, he would work on subjects that could fit our mutual schedules.  This has meant a great deal of math.  Math concepts--at least at this level--are fairly simple.  The tricky part is getting them inside us so that we no longer have to think about them.  This requires plenty of repetition and practice, which meant that Norm could practice while I was working.  No he gets more leeway in his work. 

His choice (not surprisingly) has been to focus on the humanities.  We will continue with art and music, something made easier by the acquisition of plenty of art supplies over Christmas.  Also over Christmas we entertained the cousins with our three-piece (trumpet, uke, and drum) combo by playing holiday classics.  We couldn't find a band for him to belong to.  We tried to get him into band at his former school but the response was a rather firm "no".  So the non-traditional combo, along with drum lessons will have to suffice for the year.

Most importantly for keeping up with his school-mates (remember, this is for only one year) are our plans to catch up on Norm's reading and writing skills.  Norm reads a lot for fun.  Certainly this was the case over Advent as my workload increased.  Now, however, we need to work on the more formal building blocks that come with literacy: spelling, grammar, writing, and reading comprehension.  Some of these will be easy for him.  I hope (and suspect) that the others will be easier than he thinks thanks to their overlapping nature and his own enthusiasm.  Either way, there is a stack of carefully marked workbooks on my desk and we crack them open today.

A few people each week--particularly over vacation--express the belief that they would never be able to homeschool their kids.  The reasons are varied.  There are personality differences, the need for time away from parenting duties, and more practical--logistical--reasons like the requirement for most working parents to have their children away so they can work.  These are all valid.  Many people also claim not to have the right "skill set" for teaching kids in general and their own kids in particular.  These skill sets, of course, can be learned.  However, I understand this hurdle as well.  Basically, homeschooling is about a re-ordering of priorities and family structure that can be hard or even impossible for many families that would be otherwise interested or sympathetic.

At first I would have said that everyone could do this.  Now I am not so sure.  It is a lot of work.  It takes a great deal of my time.  It requires patience, which is not natural for me.  However, Norm is learning and--with the exception of math--is enjoying it!  I am learning, too.  I am not merely learning in warm and fuzzy ways.  I am learning (or re-learning) fourth grade!  It is amazing what we forget, or what we ignored the first time.  Perhaps it will stick better the second time around.

Well, class is about to start and I must go.  No doubt there will be more to write on this subject later...

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