Homeschooling Like Jewelry

october_25_092aLast week I decided to write my monthly homeschool column about “Spring Cleaning” for homeschoolers. April is the time we’re all organizing our stuff for the bi-annual dog & pony homeschool review. I offered some tips on time, space and paper management. Useful but not mind-altering.

What I wanted to write was:
This might be the time to honestly evaluate how well home educating is working for your entire family. What were your initial reasons and goals for homeschooling? How have those ideas been reinforced or changed? Is every day a bundle of joy or a ball of confusion?

Consider each child’s interests, goals and abilities. Are they thriving? Have they really embraced their home education lifestyle or is it still like pulling teeth? If you have a partner, how has homeschooling affected your relationship? Is he/she involved in the whole process or is he/she clueless? Are YOU stressed, depressed, inspired, happy?

Because I gotta tell you, there are families out there who should NOT be the main source of their children’s education. Period. You can call it child-directed learning la-de-da. But what I call it is doing nothing, na-da.

That’s awesome that your 11-year-old knows how to saddle a horse. Too bad she doesn’t know how to read. Yes, you are one hip momma because you let your daughter flip though fashion magazines all day. But can she find Milan on a map? Oh, and yes, you’re right, your son is brilliant. Too bad he can’t carry on a coherent conversation.

Don’t get me wrong; there are families with intelligent, well-spoken, good-natured “unschooled” children. Every day those parents take the time, find the resources and make the effort to turn on their kids to the world. But some dysfunctional families are using the concept of homeschooling, especially the vapor of unschooling as a way to avoid being accountable to the world and taking on the responsibility to truly educate their kids.

They wear their homeschooling like jewelry.

The Blue Pig

If you only read one post, make it this one.

img-3302You only have to read Lord of the Flies or watch a few episodes of Lizzie McGuire to understand why we homeschool. But if there was The Straw that told me I needed to get my kid outta public school, it was the afternoon of The Blue Pig.

When Morgan was in first grade, I was the Room Mom who came up on Friday afternoons to help with Game Hour. I’d gotten there a little early and I’m not sure what the class had been doing, but whatever it was, just a few of the kids were still at it. Most, Morgan included, had moved on to some DIY craft—making paper farm animal headbands. Their teacher, Mrs. Shuler, was floating among her students, helping them finish up and put away their stuff.

For the life of me, I can’t remember what Morgan was coloring, if anything. Even then, he had a way of avoiding the bullshit busy work. But I remember Kole, one of M’s Reading Buddies, ask Mrs. Shuler to “Look!” Stapled to the pre-cut, pale yellow cardstock headband was a brilliant Sapphire Blue pig. He smiled.

“Kole,” said Mrs. Shuler, “I’m very disappointed that you would color your pig blue.” And with that, she spun on her heels and went about her business.

I liked Mrs. Shuler, but I was appalled. Playing the emotional guilt trip of Disappointment is reserved for parents. As Kole’s teacher, she could have said, “You didn’t color the pig realistically.” Or even pronounced it messy. Those are judgment calls. Kids learn to brush off that kinda shit. But head games, man, that’s deep.

So that tore it. I figured I couldn’t screw up my kid any worse than a teacher. After all, as his mom, I get first dibs.