Melissa took my six-year-old to Texas with her. She is there for good, but he’s there for a week. I was thinking this would be a good method of homeschooling—sending my kid to go visit other people, and see how they live.

After all, it is not lost on me that last time we went to a Chicago suburb for a cello camp, my six-year-old said, “Hey, look at that truck! That’s the dirtiest truck I’ve ever seen!”

And I said, “Yeah. It’s called a garbage truck.”

I need to make sure this stuff happens when he’s six and not sixteen.

Also, I was thinking that maybe I could arrange with another homeschooling parent to send their kid to our farm and we send our kids to their city house. Like, an homeschooling exchange program or something. So I was really curious to see how things would go on this trip.

It went great because he was exposed to things I could have never shown him myself. He stayed in a boy’s house who has a movie theatre inside. He drove in someone’s truck who has a playroom in the back. He ate at a restaurant with a Confederate flag out front, and asked if that’s the flag for Texas.

When Melissa proposed the idea, I thought the scariest thing was that he had to fly back home by himself.

But now that  I see what the trip has done for him, I think the scariest thing is that he might grow up and live in Texas.

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8 replies
  1. Heather DeGeorge
    Heather DeGeorge says:

    I think you will come to not only be amazed by these small, seemingly isolated tidbits of information your kids absorb; but in a few years–how they recall these pieces of information and synchronize them to produce ideas and resolutions at a level that is beyond what you could have hoped for. It all matters. If you could possibly see the ripple effect of his understanding–even at a minimal level–that there is a difference between the state flag and the Confederate one, combined with the experience of seeing the Confederate one being flown decades after the ordeal… well, it would pretty well convince anyone of the value of life learning. ;)

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      Well said – I couldn’t agree more! I think everyone has retentive memory if they’re interested in something, and the easiest way to get interested is to have some form of personal connection. And it just grows and expands in all directions as time goes by.

  2. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I was shocked when I read about the confederate flag out front, Austin being the state capitol and all. But then I re-read and saw that it was in front of a restaurant–which means a private business, which means freedom of speech–not a government building. It did make me wonder though if that means the restaurant is stating by flying the confederate flag that it does not welcome anyone who isn’t or doesn’t look white?

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    I had an idea for a formal homeschool exchange program. If you want it, please take it! It would work similar to how the au pair program works, except without requiring a visa, obviously – people involved would have health insurance, there would be organized oversight to make sure living conditions were appropriate and so that the young person had someone outside of the host family to communicate with, and there would be an effort made to match up compatible people.

    I am interested in removing the weird stigma that domestic service still retains, and this would might help. I think it’s also really good for young people to have a chance to observe a working household with small children before they begin to make irrevocable career decisions.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That is such a great idea. And this blog would be a great spot to launch it. I am always thinking that the farm is a treasure for kids and I wish we could share it more.

      Well, and I’m always thinking that I hope my kids grow up to be comfortable navigating big cities. Now that I live in the country I realize that most people in the world are totally overwhelmed trying to get around NYC or LA.

      And exchange program could address all these issues.


      • Karen
        Karen says:

        I don’t know how to make an exchange program like this make money. I’m not sure how au pair programs make money. Obviously they must or people wouldn’t run them. All the money is coming from what parents pay, and that’s surprisingly little, I think about 13k/year including the au pair’s travel and educational expenses. Out of that, the au pair gets a small stipend, health insurance, and the support of a fulltime person in the area who is there to facilitate social contact with other au pairs and ensure that the family doesn’t use her as slave labor. People really believe in the program as a cultural exchange so they’re willing to work for relatively little compensation, but it’s still not a volunteer-run thing. Somebody must be making some money, somewhere, somehow.

        I grew up in a very dense city and now am raising my children in a tiny one, and I too am weirded out by the idea that they are growing up without all the big city skills I have. Of course, I don’t have the skills I need to navigate the place I’m in; the difference is that if you move to the big city, you know you need to learn how to get along and people make some allowances for you; you move someplace smaller and you’re surrounded by people who honestly don’t know there is any other way to live and thing you’re just stupid for not being able to manage.

  4. Lori
    Lori says:

    Note that if your child is public-schooled and doesn’t recognize a garbage truck when he sees it, people will chuckle. If he’s homeschooled and doesn’t recognize a garbage truck when he sees it, people will give each other *a significant look*.

  5. Beff
    Beff says:

    In Austin’s defense, it’s nothing like the rest of Texas–most of us will tell you we couldn’t be happy living anywhere else in this state. While I don’t know which restaurant had the Confederate flag up (a Google search turned up nothing useful), you shouldn’t draw the conclusion that Austinites or even Texans in general are a bunch of bigoted hatemongering hicks. I’ve honestly never seen the Confederate flag up around town. This being the last liberal bastion in a sea of red, I can say with confidence that people around here don’t tolerate blatant racism.

    Austin has a really cool vibe, a constant stream of excellent live music shows, awesome water recreation, and some of the best food you’ll ever have. You should come visit!

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