Right now, I am listening to my children playing with plasma cars on damp pavement. It’s one of those rare moments when no one is crying, fighting, or tattling. It’s cool outside for the first time in a week. We have no plans for the day, other than school work.
This is what is really, really good about homeschooling. We didn’t rush out the door this morning, I didn’t have to pack lunches, or remember homework. I won’t pick up grumpy kids at 3:00 and bring them home, only to do more schoolwork.
I’ve always been very territorial about my home – and things that threaten the quality of time I spend here with my family really, really bug me. Homework often fell into that category, and I rarely considered it a worthwhile use of the few evening hours my family spent together I have read and heard all the arguments in favor of routine homework – but I simply don’t agree with any of them.
After my children spent seven hours at school, I deeply resented the extra hour (or more) of time my children spent with their worksheets and pencils and silly dioramas. I do think that reading, and reading a lot, is the single most important academic thing that children can do – but I loathed the tedious “reading logs” that required my children to read for credit instead of read for enjoyment and enrichment. And yes, I have heard the arguments. “Not every parent would make their child spend time reading quietly if we didn’t insist on the reading log, Mrs. Hefelfinger.”
I’m not one of those parents that thinks childhood should be a magical fantasyland of unobstructed playtime. I am not really raising children – I am raising adults. And I want them to be adults who have options, which means working hard NOW so that they have the achievements, skills, resiliency, and character to have the maximum number of options LATER. But I also think that kids can and should be taught to work efficiently, and intelligently, and reap the rewards of doing such. Why should a child who has earned a 100% on every spelling test since Kindergarten be required to come home and write the words five times each? Why should a child who easily gets ten math problems correct during class be forced to do 30 of them after school? Why do we ever need to build a diorama? Those are the types of time-wasters that I always felt were disrespectful of our home life. Teacher is in charge during the school day, but I wanted control over how we spent our time at home.
And although things are not perfect here, they are good. Bridget and Lane spent last night with their cousins, embroiled in a “Minecraftathon” until 9:00 PM. It’s noon, now, and Bridget and Lane are wrapping up the last of their schoolwork for the day. We have a small science experiment planned. Tonight, some parents from St. Mary’s are getting together for a fundraiser to benefit my sister’s family. They are such good, generous people. They, truly, are what I miss about school.