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Homeschool not for the faint of heart – or me either

Submitted by on Monday, 18 October 2010 2 Comments

The relentlessly cheery among us never have problems. Instead, they experience “challenges” or “opportunities.” It’s a “chance for growth.”

So, in that spirit let me thank our school system for giving me the “opportunity” to put the guys on “independent study” – ie, homeschool – during Dad’s two weeks of R&R. It was a “challenge” to not lose my mind on a daily basis, and a “chance for growth” and discovery.

I discovered that I’m definitely not cut out for homeschooling.

I suspected that anyway, at least as far as Big Guy is concerned. From the time he started kindergarten he’s managed to tack at least an extra 50 percent onto his nightly load of homework by incorporating pencil-flinging and other tantrums into the curriculum.

My fingers trembled the Friday before R&R started as I reviewed the packet of the next two weeks’ work their teachers had sent home. If I see “range” and “mode” on a math worksheet I’m going to shoot myself, I thought.

I was relieved that Big Guy’s packet included two-digit addition – a new concept, but a do-able one. Or so I thought until I realized that you no longer “carry the one.” Instead, kids now “regroup,” a process that seems to me to needlessly lengthen the time it takes to answer the question. On his own, Big Guy could quickly solve the equation. By the time I made him go back and “regroup,” he’d taken way longer to complete the work. Multiply that times three worksheets a day and my head was ready to explode. So was his.

“You’re mean, Mommy,” he said.

I sort of agreed, but I didn’t want to be responsible for him blowing the regrouping portion of the SAT and never getting into a good college.

English was even worse, as the kid who wrote two perfectly punctuated papers for display at Back to School Night seemed to forget which end of the pencil to fling at me. I hovered like the helicopter I swore I’d never be as he forgot to capitalize. I repeatedly corrected his lack of punctuation at the end of sentences. “You know how to do this,” I told him. “You’re just not.”

“No, I really can’t remember,” he insisted.

By the end of the first week he slipped up and proved himself a liar by writing a legible, grammatically correct passage about his first love’s new husband. He should be flattered that Big Guy deemed  him worthy of his best penmanship.

Next came the assigned reading, pieces about supply, demand and an orange shortage. It allowed me to repeatedly work a new vocabulary word into our conversations. “My patience is getting scarce,” I’d say through gritted teeth.

We closed with the optional reading, which is optional only in that Big Guy gets to pick the book. He selected a Harry Potter book, and there must have been some real wizardry involved there because he claimed to have read 168 pages in a half hour. For some reason, I was skeptical.

I really am glad that our school district offers independent study. Without it families would have to choose between a child missing time with a parent or missing out on his education, and both choices are problematic.

But I’m also glad that the next time Big Guy asks why he isn’t homeschooled all the time, I’ll have a ready answer for him.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Sandra Foyt said:

    There are lots of reasons to go with homeschooling, or not. Keep in mind that school-at-home, where you try to cover the work assigned by the school, is a far cry from what you can do when fully embracing the possibilities of homeschooling.

  • Debra said:

    Good point, Sandra. The only assignments during the two weeks that were similar to what I would do if I were homeschooling full time were his social studies assignments, which involved collecting pictures, ticket stubs, maps, etc., from our travels. He actually got into those without too much kickback.