"When you first told us about homeschool, I hated school, so I thought, less school more play means less learning and I thought that was good. Then I found out less school, more play AND I learn more in less time, and that's AWESOME! I never want to go back to public school," Daniel told me recently, near the end of our first homeschool year.
That moment made me feel so accomplished, I just beamed with pride for the whole day! This is a child for whom public school had become something to endure. This was at the end of second grade. Not a very good omen of things to come, a bright, friendly, considerate boy had gone from taking joy in learning to being downright obstinate about doing anything school related.
I've talked about the multiple issues that drove us to homeschool, our journey(here and here) and some of the benefits my husband and I have seen as a direct result. What I haven't talked about is how the boys feel about it.
Daniel felt just ok with the scholastics. Things were very rigid for him in class, and while he likes structure, the constant bombardment with worksheets soured him for ever wanting to see another worksheet as long as he lived. This made schoolwork challenging at first! Because I was doing what I knew in bringing school home, rather than finding our own rhythm, this was just more of what he despised at school. It took some time to find ways to reinforce the learning without the kill and drill procedure that we are all so familiar with. Daniel has always been more reserved in making friends, and for him the social aspect of school was intimidating and overwhelming. He always felt as though he had no friends, despite our constant attempts to show him that he did indeed have friends - they just weren't as close as David. They were a different kind of friend, and that was ok.
His twin, David, enjoyed the social aspects of school, but always felt constrained and restricted by what was allowed and not allowed at school. Kids were suspended for the silliest of things, and it just seemed to hamper his normal, happy self. All this in addition to the fact that everything just seemed too easy, but no one wanted to listen and he genuinely thought I couldn't help.
They have both told me at different times that they genuinely love learning about all the subjects we study, that I make learning fun, and that they are never bored.
Just a few days ago, David was sprawled out on the couch reading, and popped his head up when I stopped playing viola for a moment, "Mom, are we ever going back to public school?"
"Not if I can help it, do you like homeschool?" Was my response.
"Good! And yes! It's so much better than regular school!"
He went back to reading.
For those who don't homeschool yet, it must seem daunting, unfamiliar and downright frightening to think of it. I believe this is why so many people have fallen away - they simply don't understand, and it scares them. Fear makes people do odd things - I just wish one of those things was to ask questions rather than retreat from the unfamiliar.
Some think that we have little desks set up for the kids to do their school work - we don't. We get comfy where ever we are and just set up shop there for the day! We love the flexibility, the joy, and the togetherness.
Our homeschool day looks very different from day to day. There are days that we are outside at the park, bicycling and stopping every so often to do some more work. There are days we all sit in the backyard in the sun with our books. When it gets hot, they get into the cold spa and we do our Latin recitations together.
Right now, they're obsessed with learning make puppets. They've learned to sew by hand, they have learned to make their favorite veggie patties, Daniel loves gardening and studying plants. David loves Jim Hensen style puppets and puppetry.
The summer has turned out so much better than I could have hoped. They're free and feel comfortable exploring their ideas, their wants, desires, interests - all in an environment that is safe and nurturing. I have never been prouder of them, nor more impressed with their level of intelligence and ability to come up with new things to try.
And yes - it's less "school time", more play time, and more learning. I can't think of a better way to spend childhood!