The Elastic Waistband of Relaxed Homeschooling

kevinrosseel_032008_052As I sit here all snuggly in my Just My Size “relaxed fit” cotton pants (Translation? Fat girl sweats), I can certainly appreciate the comfort of an elastic waistband. But I’d never wear’em out in public. Because even though the pants are stain- and pill-free, they’re not particularly flattering. And I can pretty much say the same thing about “relaxed” homeschooling.

“Relax” is something you do after the work is done. And if you consider home educating your kid a vacation, then it’s time to vote yourself off the island. Because while I can certainly agree that home education shouldn’t be years of yelling over an over-scheduled manifesto, you’ve gotta plan your work and work your plan.

Okay, okay – I know that sounds very “Corporate.” But isn’t part of what we’re trying to instill in our children is some sort of work ethic? Not to (necessarily) assume the position in a windowless cubicle to work for The Man their entire lives. But to come to grips with adhering to a schedule, showing up on time or at least keeping commitments to friends and family. Hey, I’m a firm believer in lolly-gagging and foot-dragging whenever I can get away with it. But my son’s educational and life experiences are not areas for slouching.

I’ve heard more than a fair share of “relaxed” parents admit that their laissez-faire format has had a way of slowing from a laid-back pace to a casual crawl to a dead-in-the-water stop. And what’s that we’re taught about Newton’s Law of Inertia? Oh, sorry, that’s right… you’re relaxing, maybe you haven’t gotten to that far in your physics lessons yet. But, paraphrased, it states that “An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force.”

Trust me, I’ve thrown enough “external forces” in our own home education path to stop a truck. And it’s hard to get rolling again, once you pull the brakes, especially uphill. So we’ve learned to be more like the tortoise then the hare. Slow and steady. And just like that lowly reptile, we won’t relax until this 12-year race is won.

Educational Dominatrix

WhipI know I must sound like a total crack-the-whip Dominatrix about this whole Unschooling thing. But it’s like religion; I’m fascinated by the concept yet logic prevents me from making that Leap of Faith.

So I decided to go to the source. I interrupted Morgan from chain sawing zombies in the mall to ask him if he’d like to approach his education in a different way. Okay, I wasn’t ready to totally release my grip on what we were going study, but I was willing to work within a subject.

“We’re getting ready to learn about the War of Independence,” I announced, followed by a brief synopsis of 1776. “Would you like to watch some movies or study the weapons and the battles or just stick with the book we’re using?” I know, not a very broad choice, but a choice nevertheless.

Without missing a beat or looking up, M said, “Let’s just stick with the book for now.”

Apparently getting to hack-and-slash his way through dozens of virtual urban landscapes is about as much child-directed learning as he can handle in one day.