Don’t get me wrong. Education has always been important to me, and making sure my kids get a quality education that will serve them well is crucial. It is a large part of why I started homeschooling to begin with.
But when my kids were in public school, after they spent 6 hours a day in school, and then another 2 hours at home doing homework Monday through Friday, the only thing they wanted to do come the weekend was veg out and play. i couldn’t blame them, either, because I was fed up after just the 2 hours of homework I had to help them with.
And don’t even get me started on what it was like when they would have some kind of appointment. If they missed time at school for the appointment, they missed learning time and it was left to me to try to figure out how the teacher would have taught it, and teach them. If the appointment was after school (which was what I usually tried for), homework didn’t get done until after we got home, which meant they had no time to play outside, and often, no time to play inside or do anything else.
This is why I truly love homeschooling. When most people hear the word “home” in homeschooling, they naturally picture our family at home, around the dining room table or in desks just like public school, hard at work with textbooks. But that is not the case – or at least, not all the time!
This morning, my children have appointments for their annual eye exams. Last night, I prepped today work in advance. I printed out a few sheets that they would need to do today, and we will take them with us and work on them while we wait for their names to be called, and while we wait in the exam room. They can also work on them while I’m driving there and back. By the time we get home, the majority of our school day will be finished.
Last week, we went to Legoland on Monday. They offered a steep discount on admission for homeschooling families, which made it possible for us to afford it. They have several educational programs which I printed out the paperwork for and then took advantage of. That alone made it an outstanding learning experience. But there was so much more that they learned.
1. They learned quite a bit about sunburn when Mom forgot to put sunscreen on the back of her neck and the top of her chest (yes, I was more than bit miserable when we got home!). They learned what causes sunburn, how sunscreen prevents it, and how you often don’t even realize the sunburn is there until it’s much too late.
2. They learned why the human body sweats, and why it doesn’t really work so well in our humid heat. (Did I mention it was about 90* that day?) They also learned that the misters provided around the park are wonderful for temporarily doing what sweating couldn’t do – cooling off the body.
3. They learned that no matter how in shape or young you are, after an entire day spent walking around a 150 acre theme park, you will hurt somewhere.
4. They learned that when you have only about 8 hours to do everything you want to do, you have to prioritize. It was up to them to decide what they really wanted to do and what they were okay with skipping if it became necessary. Then, with minimal assistance from me, they had to detemine how best to accomplish everything they wanted. They had to determine when it was most efficient to stand in line and wait, and when it was most efficient to do something else and then return the original activity.
Now, these are all lessons that could have been learned in a classroom, sure. But I know that these lessons will stick with my children in a way that classroom lessons wouldn’t have. They learned these lessons actively, doing something they enjoyed, so I know they will really remember them.
This is what I truly love about homeschooling. Whether we go to the eye doctor or Legoland, whether we stay home or go grocery shopping, there is always a lesson to be learned. And because we aren’t bound by the restrictions of public school on our time, we never find ourselves tired of learning or so burnt out that we don’t want to take the time to find and learn the lesson.
We are, right now, about 4 weeks out from the end of our school year. It’ll be the end of our active, intentional learning in the sense of sitting down with lessons, planning things to learn and ensuring that we cover all the subjects and things we want to cover. But even during our summer vacation, as we enjoy swimming, fishing, movies and more with friends, I’m certain that there will be other unplanned lessons to be learned. Just as there were last summer.
That is the real joy of homeschooling.