It all started here:
Well, not really. It started decades ago, of course, because everything does. Start long before you know it does.
But that afternoon, that Sunday afternoon at the Magic City Art Connection, thoughts, feelings, intuitions and convictions came together, and I understood some truth. I’d sort of made the decision a couple of months before, but at that moment, I really saw why.
So yes, we – the boys and I – are embarking on a homeschool/roamschool/unschooling experiment. I don’t know how long it will last. I’ve told their school we might be back in January, but we might not. We will definitely have to see how it goes, but even now, the older one is saying, “I think when we get back, I’ll want to keep homeschooling.” I always tell him: You might want to wait on that. We both all be racing towards the school at that point.
I’m going to talk about this during the week and try to avoid a big mega-post, as I am always tempted to do.
So I’ll start with some very Convenient Bullet Points:
- This is not about a deep dissatisfaction with their particular (Catholic) school. For the most part, I’m happy with their school, and so are they. I’m grateful for it and the people involved. It’s a solid Catholic school in a good parish, and both of them had good years (1st and 5th grades).
- This is fundamentally about a dissatisfaction with school.
- Montessori has always been on my radar, but never a possibility, mostly because I really believe that the education of grammar school children should be grounded in the everyday practice of the Faith. A Catholic Montessori might be ideal – and they do exist – but just never where I’ve happened to live.
- I have resisted this for a long time, in my own spirit. My arguments against it are not all selfish, either. We are not a big family in a busy neighborhood bursting with children. It is me and the boys, and I am anything but cavalier about that. I have always - always – welcomed the presence of helpful, loving, authoritative, truth-telling teachers in my children’s lives, and they have each had their share of inspiring ones. They need to know this is not just me speaking. Even with other activities, which, as long as we are in town they will do – they do Scouts, they do sports, and as long as we are in one place we’ll hook up with other homeschoolers – yet, even with that, I’m acutely aware of the possible wear and tear on our family dynamic – on all sides.
- That said, the dissatisfaction with school won’t go away. On many levels, which I’ll go into tomorrow, perhaps.
- There is a spiritual dimension to this. I have been feeling nudges from a million directions, but have resisted the sacrifice. But I am sensing that at least for now, I am supposed to say yes to it. I have the time, the resources, and the freedom. I see gaps, I see the potential for flourishing, and – with sacrifice and grace – the gaps can be filled and deeper flourishing can be encouraged at home.
- They’re good with it. They’re not unwilling or fighting it at all.
- I am leaning towards a roamschool(because we will be traveling) model. Like Julia, I have certain areas which I a stickler for, which I think are building blocks, and which will be constants – a few of which I think are being neglected in the present situation, grammar being an important one. We will do curricula in math, spelling, grammar and probably Latin. So it’s probably stretching to call it unschooling. Yeah. I think I just want that as a cover for my disorganization. Oh, we’re unschooling, you know…
- I told Dorian and Jen that I am trying mightily to avoid reading homeschooling blogs – it is just too overwhelming and, like reading mommyblogs in general, deeply demoralizing. But in trying to figure out resources and materials, it’s hard to avoid them.
So that picture?
We went this downtown art festival last month. And waaaay in the back, behind all the booths, was this area set up for kids. As you can see, it was a mess – stocked with all kinds of big tubes and what seemed like insulation and ties and chicken wire.
I watched the children – not just mine, but all the children who drifted that way. They would spy this glorious mess, and they would run to it, and then they started building. Sometimes forming teams without even discussing it, sometimes working alone. There was no hesitation – every child who saw this array – this possibility - ran to it, plunged into it, and started figuring things out. It was play, but it was quite purposeful and as you watched them, you could actually see them all, in their groups and on their own, thinking things through.
What happens to that?
A couple of weeks ago I was telling this story and describing my thought processes to someone who I didn’t expect to oppose me, but nor did I expect him to be sympathetic. He surprised me. He was completely sympathetic and revealed that he and his wife are seriously considering homeschooling as well, simply because they are frustrated by and weary of the inefficiencies of the schooling their children are enduring, as well as the extreme orientation to standardized testing.
To be continued….