I don’t know when we decided to homeschool Falcon. I always knew we would, the way I knew I’d breastfeed or I’d wear him. It made sense, for a few reasons. I’d be home. I have most of a Ph.D. in pedagogy (or teaching), and probably more training in theoretical pedagogy than most classroom teachers. Except my husband, that is, who quit the same degree to teach public high school.
Talk about a sticky situation. I think schools spend more time socializing kids into proper behavior than teaching, and he’s on the front lines instructing high schoolers. It takes him a lot of doublethink to agree to this, I think, and he’s come around in time.
It gets stickier. We both come from families of teachers. Our kids have two teacher grandmothers, one active, one retired. While both taught private school, they both believe deeply in the mission of school: chiefly, socialization. They worry our kids won’t turn out normal, especially my mom. Growing up, the only homeschoolers we knew kept potbellied pigs in their house. She think we’ll become those people.
It only became clearer that Falcon needed homeschooled when he started showing signs of ADHD. He’s impulsive. He can’t sit still. I can’t imagine asking him to sit at a desk for six hours on end. Fifteen minutes would be a stretch, and that’s with reminders. I know that Falcon would be branded the ‘bad kid’ who kept getting up, who didn’t fit in, who got frowny-face notes home every day.
Falcon also – well, he knows a lot. Bear knows pretty much everything, and rather than give them kids’ dinosaur books, for example, they got the real thing. My kids can talk about the Jurassic era and correctly identify orthocones and eurypterids. They can’t put their underwear on straight, but they can tell you that birds are actually dinosaurs.
Then, about three months ago, I got Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and went to town. Now, Falcon can read Hop on Pop, Go Dog Go, and The Cat in the Hat (the latter with help for words like “could”). In kindergarten, I remember listening to songs about how Mr. M had a munchin’ mouth. There wasn’t a lot of reading going on. Falcon would die of boredom.
Homeschooling gives me time to teach in a child-directed manner, mostly outside. Falcon catches tadpoles better than anyone I know. He can talk about them, tell you how they are turning into a frog. He can pick up rock and tell you it’s quartz. Then he can ask me why trees have bark, and why there’s so much quartz around here, anyway. That’s the kind of schooling we like to do. It’s the kind that sticks.
It also means Falcon can spend two hours a day just running around outside, like he needs, like nature intended.
He’s little. As he gets older, we’ll add some more structure (I have a story-based math book in the mail). Maybe we’ll look into more, like for religion, or for history. But that’s far in the future. Right now, he’s five, and five needs lots of movement with a little bit of structure in between.
And don’t worry, mom: he gets socialized. We go to homeschool playdates; we have friends who homeschool. We do classes and open gym. He plays with kids of all ages, which is better for him anyway. Instead of learning how to behave from a bunch of kids at the same level as he, he’s learning how to move through the world from kids who might be a year, two years, three years older than him. And in turn, he teaches little kids. It works surprisingly well, with little conflict.
I know everyone can’t make the same choice as we do. I know we’re lucky, and I know that homeschooling isn’t the best choice for everyone. I don’t think moms who send their kids to school are negligent or lazy. I think they’re making the best choice for their families.
And we’re making the best choice for ours.