Friday, May 26, 2006

Interludes are for Learning, Too?

I should be used to it by now. Every time we have a rush of activity, the next couple of days are sort of sporadic and quiet. After our squirrel adventure on Wednesday, yesterday was a down day. I’m trying to remember if we did ANYTHING. I read a bit of Brendan’s book, I went for a walk with Kevin and Clare and the “babies”, oh, yes, and I talked to a long distance friend for a while. I wrote a couple of emails. I made spaghetti and otherwise did the minimal amount of house and family maintenance. That seems to be about it.

IT does not seem like “enough”. All the usual little things have been going on — Sean is tossing around a football and talking to Brendan, Brendan and Liam had a LOONG literary conversation at midnight, Liam did another cooking experiment (sauteed apples and cinnamon for our homemade icecream, it was GOOD!), Sean asked for football stretching exercises and incidentally read someone’s sports blog and is now telling Brendan about it. Kieron and Clare are continuing their nature expeditions, Aidan is doing wheel experiments and riding around in his stroller/wheelchair, Paddy is learning to do all sorts of sophisticated things on the computer, Clare has been practicing her music. They all are reading intermittently; Brendan just finished the weighty “Modern Times” by Paul Johnson and needs another book. So there are lots of things going on but no One Big Project or interesting community experiences or any of those things that seem to make me feel validated as an unschooling mom.
Yesterday afternoon, Kevin took our one car, our lived in Suburban, to the repair shop. He brought Sean with him so they could do some football passing at the community park. The brakes are pretty much gone and we were just waiting for baseball season to end so we could bring in the car. But I forgot that we had our Homeschool Stations of the Cross today so since that is 20 miles away, we can’t go. I called the leader and we chatted a bit about homeschooling and its benefits. Both of us have kids who are college age or over. She has three, I have one. They are all doing well in different branches of life. So much conventional wisdom “it takes a village of experts to raise a child” has been proven to be at least incomplete. We both noticed that our children have been able to shine in areas that are NOT our own personal specialties. My college age son got his first year’s grades back. He got an A+ in Latin and is also doing well in Math, Laboratory (science) and Philosophy — ironically, subjects where I was not educated to give him a “teacherly” foundation. I gave him the materials for the first two and we pretty much shut our eyes to the second two, unless you count lots of very informal nature study and a few electronic kits and plenty of interesting midnight discussions about “everything in the universe” — that’s the closest we got to Philosophy and maybe that’s enough.

Her kids followed analogical patterns — went to high school after a homeschool K-8 and did AP English and Science and are now getting college degrees.

She uses a more textbooky curriculum than I ever did and they are also more extroverted and so involve themselves in many more extracurricular experiences than we do, but what we both have in common is that we were homeschooling mostly for family closeness and developmental reasons — because we wanted our kids to have time and space to develop their individual natures. We talked about that a bit, too.

She has a younger friend who wants to homeschool but is afraid she doesn’t have the skill or expertise to do a good job. We were thinking that since our kids excelled in areas where we didn’t have skill or expertise, perhaps that is not what it takes. Perhaps it takes time, and space, and freedom and love and family closeness more than a lot of money or professional skill.

Anyway, those are my skimpy thoughts for today. If you looked at my home you would think that I must believe electronic screens are the key to homeschool success since I am typing in front of a computer, DH is working on his (two) computers and the rest of the kids seem to be clustered around one of them playing a gamecube game, at present. Sigh! It’s not like that all the time but I am trying to get comfortable with the concept that the electronic media can be a legitimate aspect of a loving, vibrant family environment!

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