I’ve heard of the King of Prussia Mall throughout my life. It’s like Mall of America. It’s one of those malls that is so big it comes up in casual consumer conversations. But our first trip there was different than all other mall visits because the boys are old enough that I can let them to go look around by themselves.
Their approach to shopping is totally different: my younger son will buy something at any store. He loves interacting with people, and he loves clothes, so the act of getting to talk to people while you get something new to wear is irresistible to him.
My older son brings his iPad and his iPhone and his DS and his laptop and all of the chargers. Just in case. Because what if we get locked in the mall forever?
When I write about homeschooling, it’s like writing about going to the mall. There is not one way to go shop just like there’s not just one way to homeschool. It’s a totally different experience for each kid. So when you ask someone how they homeschool, a better question is how do you homeschool this particular kid.
When people say they are unschooling, they are talking about the parent’s attitude toward school. It has nothing to do with what the kids want or don’t want. I know, because I used to be an adamant about unschooling and now I let my son’s AP biology tutor teach to the test.
Paul McCarthy talks about how he and Linda homeschooled their kids in a hippie commune. And Kate Middleton kept her kids at home as long as the Queen would let her, declaring herself capable of schooling the future King at home. In both cases, homeschooling is not so much a curriculum choice as a lifestyle choice. Paul wanted to make music and have a family at the same time. Kate wants to raise normal kids instead of socially stunted British royalty.
The same is true of parents who use travel as school. Sure, you can teach your kids on the road, but that’s not their choice, it’s yours. And eventually the kids will have an interest that precludes travel, and you’ll have one of those moments when you have to choose between the kid’s pursuits or the parents’ pursuits.
I have a feeling that homeschooling has a path: It starts out as a vision the parents have for how they want to live their life. And it morphs into what the kids want to do with their lives. So it turns out that homeschooling is really a constant give and take among family members to get what they want without having to go at it alone.