Many years ago, I wrote about why we homeschooled, but what keeps us tethered to this very particular lifestyle?
Our family’s style of homeschooling has always been very hands-on, unstructured and casual. From the very beginning, I saw that the boys picked up the most information from ‘doing’ things, rather than reading about them – apple picking, beach trips, family vacations, board games, fairs, festivals, camping trips, museums, and visits to state parks, etc. have always produced much more meaningful knowledge than any textbook. I would rather help my kids develop a practice of ‘how to learn’ than attempt to fill them with facts. They can go on to learn anything they want once they can gather the resources to teach themselves. I want them to know and believe this.
This year, Gavin is a senior in high school. He entered school for the first time as a freshman and I have seen him use school as a tool instead of depending on it as his sole source of education. He continues to educate himself in more ways outside of that structure than he has within it. He has maitained a good balance of experiences that he has wished to have during his high school years – most of which were not academic in nature. I am glad his education has been self-led. I firmly believe that I would never have made as good of choices for him as he has made for himself.
Mikey went to school as a 7th Grader for a myriad of reasons. He REALLY wanted to go. He needed to experience what was going on in those buildings and see for himself what ‘school’ was like. He was also working with an educational consultant at the time who felt that school could provide many academic supports and services that were not available to homeschoolers. While he enjoyed the structure of the school day and the social aspects and chaos, I can tell you that they did not, at all, provide what was promised and his experience was very flat, narrow and dull. School was limiting for him and it cut into valuable time he could be developing skills that will be more meaningful for him in the future. It became clear to Dennis and I that the opportunity cost of going to school was just too high for Mikey.
This summer, when we began to assess his strengths and challenges, it became clear that what we wanted for him could not and would never be addressed by school. He has several short years before he is an adult and we believe the time is best spent on an education that is extremely practical and as broad and experiential as we can create for him. During his time in school, Mikey came to believe that you are to sit still (which he did NONE of) and a teacher spoon feeds you information that you produce for a ‘test’. I can think of few things as dangerous as that for Michael. Seriously.
So, we are here. Back to basics in a very true sense.
Sean continues to attend the same ‘school’ that Gavin did at his age – The Costello Academy for Feral Children. His current focus is an obsessive pursuit of All Things Yo-Yo. Sometimes he watches videos and practices techniques for hours on end. He reads about the physics and how to repair and modify yo-yos. This might seem frivolous if you are not looking through the lense of self-education. Sean is laying a basis for a lifetime of learning. He chooses video series wisely, weighing the quality and camera angles for their ability to clearly show how tricks are mastered. He found reputable websites containing products and articles about the ‘art’ of yo-yo-ing. Although the topic might seem questionable to some, the skill set of teaching yourself ANYTHING is worth allowing him to spend as much time as he needs down this rabbit hole.
The truth is, some of my kids are living without school, but don’t confuse that with living without ‘An Education’.
Have you ever watched anything by Sir Ken Robinson? Watch one. Then watch them all.
It’s 1:30 on a Friday afternoon, when yet again, it hits me that Clan Costello is strange and different and seems to function outside of many societal norms.
This year’s two homeschoolers have begun a tea party. They have decided that they need tea – Mikey for his sore throat and Sean for his incessant love of herbal teas (this one purchased at last Sunday’s Renaissance Faire). I realize ‘Make Tea’ is a task in Michael’s home economics book, so the task becomes a little broader and intense.
Gavin walks in from school. He has taken an ‘light’ senior year, completing only the requirements he has left to graduate – English, gym and photography. Even with his welding shop and lunch, he is home very early.
Dennis works from home more and more these days. Why? I am unsure. Certainly the office is quieter and more civil. If I could go to an office, I would. He is chatting away on a conference call and it adds to the din.
Ethan, who is supposed to be at his day program, is not. 50% of weeks that go by, he insists his program is closed on Fridays. We, of course, know that it is not, but he thinks he’s tricky. He colors at the dining room table and requests ‘cowboy music’, which is my country music station. At least it’s not his Christams Music. I comply and it adds more decibels.
I occassionally pan out on our life and think that it’s nuts and wonder how we ended up with such a messy, crazy life. Dennis has a mantra that kind of goes like this – “What have we done?” Yeah. We live in a very small house and I try to convince myself that moments like this are sweet. But then I brought back to ‘crazy’ and I guess for some folks, that’s just fine.
I used to post a series called ‘Sunday Scenes’. It was very helpful to my overall feelings about life.
**Disclaimer: ‘Sunday Scenes’ are in no way intended to pretend that life is perfect. It is an exercise that allows me (and you should you choose) to see that despite the fact that my life is less than perfect, there are sincerely perfect moments – and cookies.**
Do you know how I feel about making the bed? I feel very strongly about it.
The kid who NEVER plays with anything, has been playing with these for days.
I might deny that I bought white bread in the bargain bin and made 25 homemade ‘Uncrustables‘ for spoiled children who LOVE them! I have been informed that my ‘seal’ on them was poor and the engineering aspect needs improved. Duly noted.
Neil Gaiman and Mrs. Meyers help me clean the kitchen when I am completely unmotiviated. But it must be done.
The title of this post is said with a strong NJ accent, because that’s how I talk. (Pronounced ‘tawk’ – not ‘tahk’). A NJ accent NEVER includes the word “Joisey”. That was a speech impediment.
So what am I going to do about this? What am I going to do about the fact that my immune system has decided we are NOT friends and it isn’t going to pretend that we are. I know this is true, because I’ve had another small line of nasty, itchy shingles blisters and other crummy symptoms. Shit job immune system. Seriously.
I suppose my immune system might say the exact same thing to me, because I have done almost everything to make sure it is always at a deficit – from years of way too little sleep, eating a less than a nutritionally optimal diet, running high on cortisol all of the time, and generally taxing and burning it out at every turn. Paybacks are indeed a bitch.
I get very uncomfortable with words like ‘self-care’ and ‘stress management’, because my super-power would be labeled ‘The Ability to Plow Through Anything’. Wait, you have that too? Strange how things work for moms. Probably some dads. But, oh, moms! The things we put aside to fill the role as caregivers – for some of us, it has bordered on ridiculous and extreme.
There are things I have begun to identify that are going to be necessary to recover a level of health that will allow me to continue doing what I want and need to do. I am always pragmatic in my approach to problem solving. The list of activities that I know will benefit my health is growing and crowding up the pages of a legal pad. They include improving my diet nutritionally, herbal supplements, accupuncture, exercise and learning to meditate. I need to reduce my stress level. How about you? Funny, right?
But there is one thing that could literally change it all. In fact, if I can’t get it to happen, most of my other work will be meaningless. I can’t move this ahead, at all, if I can’t make ‘The List’. ‘The List’ drives my day and is the holy prescription for all that happens in a 24-hour period.
My bullet journal runs the show. It is canon and drives all that is to happen. But rarely do I find myself anywhere on it. I am sure to include EVERY SINGLE need my kids (and sometimes Dennis) have, but not the tasks that would add to my own health and well-being. Things like drinking enough water, taking my supplements or getting all the servings of veggies I am trying to fit in do not get check marks and that is proving to be too big of an oversight to manage much longer.
Current goal: Make it to The List