Yesterday my 13.5yo son had to help his father with some work in the morning, so we skipped our structured homeschooling for the day. Aside from chores and a bit of reading, both of the older kids spent their days surfing the Net, playing Facebook games, reading, playing with LEGOS. The part of me that was raised being instilled that school as we know it was the only route to success was squirming. That part of me has shrunk dramatically over the years, as I have read, researched, experienced life, and questioned freely. But we can’t always fully shake the effects of the the things that have shaped our primary years. Like this commonly held view of education. There was a level of contentment present and a stress removed yesterday that struck me. There are things all of us love to do, like reading from The Story of the World and following up with activities, or exploring the human body via games and library books.
I am going to stop here for a moment. I can hear some people saying, Well, they aren’t always going to be able to only do what they enjoy doing; better get them prepared for that now… You’re right. But they don’t enjoy doing their chores, helping out with hard work outdoors, and a variety of other things that they have had to do for years now. So I’d say they’ll be well-prepared even if they are extended freedom as far as their education goes.
Back to where I was headed with this…
My daughter dropped her laptop getting out of her older sister’s car the other night. It was already missing two keys, and she has dropped it once before, requiring the assistance of our tech-savvy son-in-law and a screw driver to get it to function properly afterward. My husband managed to get it up and running again the same way this time. She has since decided that she would like to save up to buy a new one.
She is keeping a chart of jobs done to earn money for her new laptop. She includes the date, the job, the price, the total amount, and the signature of those who owe her so that on Laptop Day she can collect and purchase. The chart was her idea, not ours. Good thinking, kiddo. I call this “math”, yet I hate calling it “math”, because I am doing exactly what irks me about the school system: taking things that flow and connect freely together in our everyday lives and separating them into disconnected subjects. It is a habit that began almost 30 years ago when I enetered Kindergarten, I guess. Old habits die hard. But I’m making progress.
Here is a message I sent to them via Facebook a few minutes ago (I knew they were on at the same time as I was). I had gotten online to print out worksheets and realized just how much we all hated worksheets. Because of this disdain, the kids don’t really wind up learning much when we do them, except that they are time-consuming and dreary and that math sucks. Then I just kind of though, You know what? F**k it… And I began writing to them.
Dear Relatively Unschooled Children of Mine,
I love you both. I do not like to force you to do math worksheets and grammar pages, etc….
I much prefer knowing that you are learning how to use the English language through reading and writing. When I say that, I mean reading about things you are curious about or interested in, and writing journals, letters, reviews, poetry… things that you want to write. Even long lists of puns or poop jokes if you must.
Math. Oh, that wonderful subject that we all love so much… I think that every day I will ask you to do something math-related that is directly linked to your life, and every day I will ask you to write something that has to do with your life as well. That will make all of our lives much easier and more pleasant.
So for today, I would love it if both of you could write a nice letter in your best handwriting to your Aunt Eleanor and thank her for the package she sent us last month. Fill her in on what you’ve been up to lately. For (ew) “math”, I want you both to think of something you would like to save up for. Noah, I know you are saving up for a laptop. Find a picture of what you want, and list different jobs (and their prices) that you can do to earn the money you need. Then figure out how long it will take you to save up for this item by doing these jobs every day.
There you go, my beautiful children. Your homeschooling for the day. I don’t care if you e-mail the math to me; whatever…
Have a lovely day, peeps.
My son has recently figured out how hilarious puns can be. We are being bombarded with puns from all sides. There is no escape. He has even created a LEGO animation character (he makes short films) called Punster McPunsteen who uses cheesy puns throughout his adventures. So cheesy that I can’t help but laugh sometimes.
I am learning how to let my children learn in freedom. It is not easy to undo doctrine that has been instilled in you from your formative years to your mid-twenties. I am now in my mid-thirties and still working on this.
But I am making progress. 🙂