I took a bunch of photos waiting for the doctor to tell my son that he’s fine. (The kids are always fine until I don’t take them to the doctor and then they are deathly ill and I’m a bad mom. But that’s another post.) Melissa cropped the picture so that I look at it and forget that my son is leaning on me. He looks just fun and happy and I’m there to hear his laughs, but it’s not how I expected to be in the picture. This is exactly how I feel about homeschool: I’m there, and it’s fun, but it’s not at all how I expected to be in the picture.
In the beginning I thought the way to get comfortable with homeschooling was to find a way to teach geometry at the kitchen table. But I learned it’s not about curricula or planning. Because plans always change. I don’t have to be a subject expert in everything under the sun. But it took me so long to understand that homeschooling isn’t about the parents being teachers. Because it took me so long to see learning as self-directed rather than teacher-led.
The thing that really helped me to feel like homeschooling is the right path for me is when people showed me another way of looking at educational institutions that I trusted. Once I stopped protecting myself from the reality that our education system doesn’t work, I was able to see whole new ways of looking at things. Here are some examples:
Stop Penalizing Boys for Not Sitting Still at School, Jessica Lahey gives us a survey of the language we use to describe boys’ very human, primal need to move around: “ADHD, lack of focus, troublemaker, slow reader, poor listener.” All these things are the result of a boy needing to run around. Depending on the language you use, you will prop up the institution of school, or condemn it.
What Medical Education Can Learn from Homeschooling, Craig Koniver is a doctor and so is his wife, and they homeschool. He explains that the benefits of homeschooling, such as self-directed learning and one-on-one engagement, are essential skills for becoming an effective doctor. Kids don’t learn this in school, and then they go to medical school and don’t learn it there either. My favorite part of this piece is that so often people tell me “what if he wants to be a doctor?” as if homeschooling immediately makes my kids unable to make it through the rigors of that profession’s training.
Surviving a For-Profit School, Stephen S. Mills has written this article so well, and so funny, that you should read it even if you’re not interested in the topic. But Mills gives an insider view on the supposed education reform movement. So many of the reformers are actually either people invested in keeping the status quo (all kids go to school) or are people who want to change the status quo to make money. Mill’s example is the latter, and it’s amazing, really, that the public is funding places like this.
If you want to homeschool, don’t focus on the nuts and bolts of teaching at home. Allow yourself to look at common institutions in uncommon ways. Challenge yourself to do things that are logical instead of conventional. It never feels easy to do that, but it’s much easier than pretending to be a teacher. I don’t have to pretend to be a teacher. My kids just need to be with someone who loves them all day. I can be that. No matter what part of the frame I’m in.