Monthly Archives: September 2013

So…what is it you do during the day?

Recently, an old friend of mine from my high-school days…many lifetimes ago…reached out to me to ask me about home schooling.  In some ways, I find this odd, since we have only been at it for three weeks and I still feel like I do not know what I am doing, but both the Boy and I seem happy doing it.

TRM (my old pal) wanted to know about Home Schooling, and why we went this route.   Since I have family that is also curious, I figured this might be a worthwhile post.

It started after we were asked not to bring him back to the private school.  Wait, I sent my kid to private school?  Okay, let’s go back just a hair farther.  My concept of kids in private school were spoiled, privileged brats who were entitled by their parents and environment.  This is not fair.  Many of the families, like us, were looking for other options.

Without being a braggart, everyone always says how smart the Boy is.  He was reading by age 3 and in pre-school taught himself the ASL alphabet, just for shits and giggles apparently.  So we figured, hell, school is going to be a breeze.  He’ll ace his classes, get into a little mischief, especially since he is stubborn, then on to an Ivy League and finally, unbelievable wealth and I can retire knowing that my ever loving boy has my back financially.

Then first grade started.  The first week was fine, but then we started getting calls.  He won’t focus.  He needs constant prompting to do his work.  He doesn’t fear retribution – in 2nd grade, when the teacher was pressing him to do work, he looked at her and, with no animosity and without being dogmatic, simply said “I don’t see the point”.  We had regular meetings with teachers and staff.  Fortunately, the school was great in the realm of support, but no one could get him to stay on task.

Then there were the tears.  1st – 3rd grade, on a nearly daily basis, he was crying, either going to school or at school.  Understand, this is a perpetually happy child.  Tears are rare…we thought.  But he hated school and a big part of that was the social aspect as well.  He just didn’t fit in.  So after therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, teacher input and support, bribes, threats and endless comforting, we thought, let’s take him to a smaller, more informal private school.  Smaller classes, more progressive teaching style, the whole nine yards.

So into debt we go to the lovely new private school….where they waited a full week before we were called in.  The boy and his teacher butted heads almost immediately.  She wanted him to sit down and focus on the group.  He wanted to wander and read a book.  (I do understand her position).  She placed importance on artsy projects, he loves math.  It got to the point she would try to bribe him with math work.

After Christmas break, we were brought into the office and told…very nicely I must say…that the school was not up to the challenges that are the boy.  Then came a frantic search for another school.  It is startling in a large Metro area how much money can be spent answering the question “What is the best school for my child”.  We had a two hour session with an “educational consultant” that did little but sap our bank account some more.

Nothing.  Either we would be traveling 3-4 hours a day to take him to school, or they were so loose, we didn’t feel comfortable with them.  Here is where my “career” helped out.  As a free-lancer and professional ne’er-do-well, I could alter my schedule to fit our needs.  The boy’s best friend lives in the neighborhood and is home schooled, so I chatted with his mother and a bunch of other  home schoolers and figured, I can do this.  And it’s not like I’ll be leaving my fast paced CEO-tracked life-style.

And then the second imponderable question.  The one I struggled with when researching this and still do.  How do you do this?  There are a variety of different schools of thought ranging from a strict purchased curriculum to the un-schooling school of thought, where you let the kid kind of free-range it.  And everything in the middle.  And I was relieved to find that not all home schoolers fit my stereo-type of being either religious nuts or hippie anti-establishment freaks (though both groups do exist).   And there is a world of information…an OVERLOAD of information….on the internet.

For us, I have a basic schedule laid out of what I want to cover: Math, Science, Music,  Reading, History.  We purchased a math book and a book on science experiments, but other than that we get books from the library, look things up on the internet, watch a documentary or just make it up as we go along.  This works for him and for me, since we can change plans at a moments notice should something else catch our attention.  Also, if he needs two hours (or takes, he never really NEEDS) two hours to do his math because he is having focusing issues, we can run with that.  The day is as long or short as we want.

I still feel this doesn’t answer “what do you do”.  We do what we like.  He is my constant (and a welcome one) companion.  If I have to go somewhere, he comes with me.  If he can’t, his mom can work from home or our friend lets him come to their house and work.

The key is, and this has been coming through from a variety of sources, that everyone educates in different ways.  For some, the strictest adherence to schedule is required.  To others, everything is free form.  But if the child is engaged, interested and questioning, then you are probably somewhat successful. There is no telling where the information will originate.  I introduced him to the series ASTERIX THE GAUL and I now we are studying Romans and Gladiators.

And it is all very good.Image

The Plan has failed

We are two weeks into the process of home schooling.  I have laid out nice general thoughts of what we would study.  We are not tied to a curriculum, but  the boy and I need some structure, so the unschooling is not really our thing.  However, after two weeks, the plan has slid a little.  Or a lot.

The Monday and Tuesday were fine.  We eased into it with some math (Saxon) which was really a low grade review for him.  Then some reading and relating about the Romans, a subject which has him entranced right now.  A little music and we were pretty much done.  Then we went off the rails.  Grandparents were in town, so our “classroom” had extra bodies.  We worked some, but less than was on the agenda.  Then I had two days of work (which I really can’t turn down) so the boy was at home with Mom one day and Best Friend Home Schooler Down The Street (BFHSDTS) the next.  I left both adults on alternate days with lists of what was to be done.  Other than the math, most of it wasn’t done.

HOWEVER!!  We did hit some great strides.  Shoe tying is now a thing he can do.  We had a lovely hike with Grandparents and found some plants and looked at them under the microscope.  And he started his own Minecraft server.  So I am learning to loosen.  Things take time to develop and one of the reasons we are doing this is to work WITH his mind, not against it

YES!  The first TANGIBLE lesson learned

YES! The first TANGIBLE lesson learned

Box turtle from the hot and muggy hike with Granny and Grandpa

Box turtle from the hot and muggy hike with Granny and Grandpa

Here We Go

This was not the plan.  My son was supposed to be in public school, like his parents.  He was supposed to suffer through with the typical ups and downs of all children.  He was going to excel at somethings, fail at others, and be fair to middling at most…like everyone else. 

We are not “Tiger Parents” or “Helicopter Parents”.  We want our son to be generally happy, to try new things.  But somehow, our incredible, intelligent boy, found himself a square peg in a series of round holes.

This is not overly surprising.  I was a square-peg in school, but I also grew up in a town where that was embraced.  But after three years of tears at public, and one year at private where he just didn’t quite fit, I decided to take the boy out of the standard school system, and mold his mind at home.   Poor kid.

I have never done this before.  I have taught theatre (a subject which holds no interest for the little man).  He excels in math (I haven’t taken a class in twenty years, and it wasn’t my strong suit.)  But with friends and internet resources, and a love of my child, I have no doubt this will be an….let’s go with interesting…yearImage