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March 28, 2007 | Category: In My Life

That sound you just heard was me falling off my high horse.


I think what I need for those special occasions of moral indignation is a much lower high horse. Sort of a medium-sized one.

Good thing I only climb up on it a few times a year.


So! Back in the land of normal (or whatever it is we live), I am no more sure today than I was a year ago that I am doing what is right for Bear - especially educationally.

I look back on my decision to quit (which was also a decision to pull Bear from the posh Happy Private Montessori school - being that money is finite), and I wonder what the ramifications will be in 10, 20 years.

He still mentions Happy a few times a week.

Although he loves being homeschooled, I do take him over to the Bad/Public Kindergarten on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for gym, music, and art classes.

At home, I have no lesson plans, no over-arching vision. I just sit down with him a for a couple of hours (or more, or less) each day and we work through things - lots of maze books (for fine-motor, which is his personal challenge) and writing books. Sight word flash cards, brain puzzles (matching sight words, 'what's wrong with this picture'?).

Some days we work with math problems, or money, or the clock. Some days I remember that science is good and we cook something or make something explode.

Some days the house is messy and we listen to music and clean the worst of it. Some days there's TV for him as I write.

Some days we study a time or a person in history. Or we talk about God.

The public school evaluated him a few weeks ago, and showed him testing higher than he did before I pulled him out of that school.

But if you think their evaluations give me any kind of warm fuzzy, you're off your rocker.

Some days, I frantically decide that we must be more organized. Lesson plans! Themes! Educational experts showing me how to teach for dummies! More Jesus! More Budda! More Yoga and Carrots!!!

Other days, I realize we're eating waffles at noon and talking about whether the Power Rangers could kick Batman's butt.

I am, slowly, finding good homeschool stuff we can do with other kids. We go to a pool to swim with a homeschool group. We joined a homeschool nature group that does cleanups and tours of forest preserves.

Last Friday night, we went to the Shedd Aquarium to join about 150 families in a lock-in; letting our kids loose in the place after hours. There was a buffet dinner, a dolphin show, games, glow-in-the-dark necklaces, music, and all the exhibits were open - with no lines or waiting.

Bear loved it.

There's this part of me that says - despite the chronic allergies/illness, he's having a good childhood. He's learning, he's (otherwise) healthy, he's happy.

But that part of me can't outweigh the doubts.

The dolphin pool at night.

I get face-painted.

Fish that look like rocks.

Bear's blue-light necklace reflected in the store fronts on our way home. It was so misty out, we drove with our window-wipers on.

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My friends on the farm are also doing the "unschooling" thing and it works great for them. Mom is a teacher and so knows how to put together detailed lesson plans and such, but hasn't found it necessary. There are so many ways to teach/learn, the key to making education work is making it a priority and valuing learning as a family, whether you are in a great school, a not-so-great school, or in your own back yard.

We think a lot about homeschooling, we will probably do some version of it at some point during our kid's lifetime.

Posted by: laura on March 31, 2007 12:53 PM

I was at the aquarium in Boston yesterday, so the "fish that looks like a rock" photo caught my eye. Nice shot.

Posted by: Rhea on March 30, 2007 04:40 PM

I have lived all over the world and experienced many kinds of schools, teachers and cultures and the one thing that was common in all of it: it's what you put in and take out of the school that matters, not that the school has high marks or low marks. There are smart kids in "bad" schools and dumb kids is "the best" schools. Your method sounds wonderful just make sure that he has alot of interaction with other kids his age. How's the move to Canada coming along?

Posted by: LeeAnn on March 28, 2007 03:36 PM

I missed that you were homeschooling too, although I thought it was something you were thinking about. I think about doing a lot but haven't taken the plunge yet. We may never but is has helped remind me that ultimately I'm in charge of my child's education.

I love reading about how things are going for y'all. I am hoping to give notice at my job very soon and commit myself to finding a better healthier equilibrium point for me and my family.

Posted by: Tracey S on March 28, 2007 02:51 PM

Sounds like you're doing great. And if it makes you feel any better, I have the big fancy schmancy homeschool curriculum, and we still end up doing what you're doing because it works better for Caleb. For us. It's all good. :)

Posted by: Cheryl on March 28, 2007 11:43 AM

I missed, somewhere along the line, that you were home schooling him. All I can say is that I applaude you for your courage. He is quite the lucky kid. Wow.

And how come you fell off your horse? Sounds to me like you should be riding high and tall, my friend.

A very lucky kid, indeed.

Posted by: R P on March 28, 2007 10:17 AM

Sounds like "unschooling" to me - this is the road my sister took when she took her kids out in the early primary years, as a sort of counterbalance to Bad Public School experiences. Gradually, structure/curriculum were added, but they still did a lot of freestylin' as you describe.

Her kids left school 11 years ago, and are swimming happily through the high school years as homeschoolers now, doing some courses with other HSers, some at the Science Center, lots online.

It worked well for them. Your mileage may vary of course. But don't doubt yourself, if your son is happy and you are happy and confident he is learning. :)

Posted by: Susie H on March 28, 2007 09:21 AM