Art class, please


I promised myself that I would stop going to the Lego store as a form of entertainment. There is no difference between using video games to take care of the kids and shopping to take care of the kids, except that while both are evil, video games don’t cost money every time we turn to them.

But the Lego store was right there, and I had a brainstorm to buy Lego projects the kids could do next to me while I get a pedicure.

While I was deciding if this idea innovative homeschooling or simply selfishness I realized that I think the two possibilities are actually opposites of each other. And since they are opposites, how will I ever take care of myself again until the boys go to college?

That’s when I spotted the wall of Legos. You can buy endless amounts of Legos in single colors. I imagined my interior design self with a blue shelf made of Legos, a yellow picture frame made of Legos, and I could see replacing our wood ceiling molding with Lego molding. I made extravagant Lego purchases for all three of use, and I told myself we are a homeschooling family growing creatively, together.

12 replies
  1. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    I don’t think Lego blocks are particularly cheap as a building material. Why don’t you teach them to use tools instead, and build something real?

    You can buy plastic sheets cheaply. Also aluminum and of course wood. Tools, even power tools, are surprisingly cheap now.

  2. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    The legos that are sorted by color are for me. I should have been more clear. I want to do something creative. Or something. How am I going to cope making everything about the kids? At some point it seems messed up. At some point, the mom disappears underneath the kids.

    The Lego store consoled me that we could all be creative at the same time.


    • MichaelG
      MichaelG says:

      I see. Well, enjoy Lego-ing your home…

      FWIW, I think at one point, we taught kids things they needed to know, either as farmers kids or in some kind of apprenticeship. And kids naturally integrated themselves into the adult world, and earned adult respect.

      Now we shunt kids off into schools and bore them to death memorizing things they know that they will never use. They don’t see adults using that knowledge, and education divorces knowledge from results. There’s no emphasis on doing projects that would develop your skills. Education isn’t about becoming competent and doing something useful. It’s all just memorization.

      Pleasing the teacher with a good test score is just not the same as pleasing a parent or other adult with a job well done on something they will actually use.

      So if you want to keep from burying yourself in homeschooling, find projects that you actually want done, and teach the kids to do them. You’ve done some of that already with the farm projects.

      I know it’s not the same as exposing them to the arts or history or other “higher education.” But they will forget most of that. They will remember the first thing they built with their own hands.

      It was a shock to me when I first tried to solve real world problems with my math education. I thought I was good at math! I had gotten good grades in school, did well on tests, breezed through homework. It wasn’t until I tried to teach myself computer programming (at age 13), that I discovered that real problems don’t come at you like classroom exercises.

      There is no explanation at the start of a chapter. There is no other kid doing the same problem. On tests and homework, the problem contains all the information you need, and nothing that you don’t. In the real world, you have a mess of information, possible approaches, various tools, and no approved way for solving the problem.

      This experience made me realize that most of my education was kind of phony. It was memorization that did not give me the ability to solve real problems. Nearly worthless, despite how good I was at taking tests and getting ‘A’s.

  3. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I was really into shopping … and buying stuff. Even stuff I didn’t need or (hardly) even use. I’m now about 180 degrees from that behavior and I feel good about it. It took me long enough. I now go into a store with some very clear objectives and pretty much stick to them. I’m like a recovered shopaholic. I appreciate the selection of goods and services and sales help. However, it can feel as though the sales people are mainly there to separate me from my money. That’s where my shopping experience shines and I can just say no thanks with a smile. Online shopping and researching a product or product line on the Internet has also been really helpful from the standpoint of gathering product, price, and use information. There’s also less chance of purchases made spur of the moment. As far as the Mom disappearing under the kids, I can see that happening with the Mom reappearing and then disappearing again. Rinse and repeat and the cycle will become the norm with some time. You’ll become an expert in no time. :)

  4. Katie
    Katie says:

    You do not have to lose yourself under homeschooling. :) Some people do – I’m in danger of it right now, but I think that’s more about the toddler of clinginess and demandingness.

    MichaelG is right. :)

    Or as someone else said to me once — if an adult were to ask you how to do something, you would tell them in a totally different way than school teaches kids. Why? You wouldn’t make an adult read a manual, then take a test, and after studying for a year finally let them touch the hammer (for example). You’d just tell the adult what is dangerous about it, show them how to use it, and let them just go for it. Kids like that, too. ;)

    And homeschooling can mean giving the kids legos while you get pretty. It’s a lesson too — that legos are awesome for fine motor skills, building, pattern making and a host of other things… and you showing them that mom is important and deserves to be taken care of, and so do they.

  5. Amy Lynn Andrews
    Amy Lynn Andrews says:

    I say go with it. And I need to go to that store. My son would love the Legos. I would just marvel at that level of organization. I like the idea of small items all grouped similarly on a wall. High. In unreachable-to-little-hands places. I know, so un-homeschoolish of me. But my goodness, sometimes I just want stuff to stay where I put it for a minute.

  6. Lori
    Lori says:

    Lego is a major part of our homeschooling. :)

    My kids moved through free building to building gadgets and machines to making stop-motion films. I’m addicted, too, so we build together. Every holiday season we make a giant layout together.

    Lego does a free education thing you can sign up for as homeschooler — they send a little kit of free legos in the mail and then there are challenges. There is also a cool hs’ing Lego challenge group online; I’ll find the link and give it to you.

    You don’t have to lose yourself to hs’ing. Just commit to digging into it a lot at first, while you learn how to mentor your self-directed learners, then know that you can dial it back later as they take over.

    But sharing hobbies is always cool. And Lego rules.

  7. Meg
    Meg says:

    I don’t understand why it has to be all or nothing. Including your kids in your life genuinely, doesn’t mean you can’t have any interests. Delaying gratification in the moment as part of being a responsible adult, is often necessary, but the skill of waiting for an opportunity to pursue an interest, and being willing to break it down into smaller chunks of time, is something most of us developed for other reasons, before having kids.

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