I was chatting with friend Jen today (you really should subscribe to her blog, Life in the Circus, it’s always a great read) about home schooling and how I would approach it now. Hard question. When we decided to home school after dialoguing for a full year with school personal about how they could provide better opportunities for Andrew and coming up practically empty handed (a few token classes but nothing meaty) we decided to try home schooling. Emily was a freshman at UNC-CH and Donald finishing out his high school years at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham.
Even though it was mostly my idea, okay all my idea, and Donny supported me, this is pretty much how I felt. A helpful selling point for both of us was the article that we read about three home schooled brothers who had recently graduated from Harvard. And all of our kids had skipped at least one grade so we figured if it didn’t work out we could drop them back into their chronological age grade and not miss a beat.
Stephen was maybe as skeptical as me but for a different reason, “This is how it’s going to work, Andrew,” he said after we told them the plan. “We’re going to go to regular school and then come home and Mom will teach us.” He could not believe that he would never have to go to public school again. Neither of the boys were getting into trouble or performing poorly academically. They were just bored. My take? They were learning really well how to efficiently waste time.
And so we took the plunge. And for weeks we did nothing, literally nothing. We were all so exhausted from all the trappings of getting ready for school, traveling to and from school (a good hour each way), working on projects not to mention homework that we just sat and stared at each other in silent glee. Then I started rounding up text books. I knew what I wanted them to learn and no curriculum was going to offer my eclectic blend. I found a company, Follett Textbooks, that had used books listed in an endless tiny print catalog, no pictures just books by category, page after page. They offered no questions returns. I jumped on that one. Remember this is still pre-public access internet days. I ordered books, returned books, relentlessly until I was satisfied.
And then we started in earnest. Before that there was learning going on. Just not out of a textbook.
Our days went like this. I would write out assignments for the two older boys after doing each one myself to be sure that I understood what I was asking of them and to ascertain about how long each lesson should take. Lewis was still in the hands on stage at this point. Reading and math were enough and quickly covered. I would line the books up (cannot locate the picture but it was awesome) on a bed and then they would have the day to complete it all. There was no school clock. No school room. They worked wherever and whenever they wanted. Inside, outside, long breaks in between, it didn’t matter.
We called ourselves the twenty-four hour family. Someone was always awake. The one rule was that all work for that day had to be completed by midnight. If they ran out of time they had to stop whatever else they were doing and finish up. I was usually in bed by then, but they didn’t abuse the system, or if they did they make it work, because when I got up the next morning the books with completed assignments were back in my court.
You didn’t think I was going to cover this all in one post did you? This is almost as much work as writing out assignments. I love both!