Mikey and I recently sat with a high school guidance counselor to pick a high school schedule for him. He is going to public school as a junior. She asked a lot of questions about homeschooling and was intrigued by the freedom and flexibility weilded by homeschoolers in New Jersey.
I explained that we rarely used a textbook or formal curriculum, favoring life learning, trips, experiences, museums, libraries, classes, movies, documentaries, and YouTube. She asked how I tested the kids and said that I didn’t. She asked I how I knew that they were learning – I said that I live with them. Mikey joined explaining how much time he has to snowboard in the winter.
On the way home, Mikey said, “You made homeschooling sound so much better than it actually is.”
“Ok”, I said. “Did you feel like I was not truthful or I exaggerated?”
“Not at all”, he replied.
“What sounded so good about homeschooling the way I described it in our house?” I asked.
“All of it. It sounds fun. Learning from experiences instead of books, the movies, and I do like documentaries.”
“Did you enjoy it this year? Were you having fun?” I asked. “Well, no. It wasn’t fun for me.” He replied.
Mikey likes the structure and chaos of school. He enjoys busy hallways, lots of people, the lunchroom, and the social beast that high school can be. He says discussions in classroooms help him learn and that he doesn’t mind homework.
I explained that it was important to consider and re-consider important decisions each of us make. I reiterated the things that we discussed when we were helping him make this choice. I reminded him that something can sound great on paper, or to lots of other people, but still not be an enjoyable experience for someone for a variety of reasons. I told him that you don’t have to like something just because other people do – even if those people are your family members.
Although I personally identify most closesly as a “homeschooler”, I have always maintained that my kids have ‘educational freedom’ and the option of learning what they want, from whom they want in a setting of their choosing.
Here’s to hoping for a great year full of lessons of all types – not just the academic ones.