Monday, October 11, 2010

Learning at Home and Everywhere Else

So this weird thing happens when anyone asks me about homeschooling.

I make it sound all lame.

Some mom at the playground innocently asks how homeschooling is going, and I get all excited and talk on and on and on, and I can see the mom's face sort of getting a funny kind of "oh, dear!" look on it as I talk, so I go on even more excitedly about even more great stuff, and then they ask a question about curriculum, and down it goes from there.

And they leave to go home and tell their partners, "Remember Julie? Well, she homeschools now, and I'm pretty sure that her kids just sit around and watch Spongebob all day."

We do not watch Spongebob. Well, the girls watch Spongebob, but only at the dentist, and they think that he's a piece of cheese, not a sponge. If you don't want your kids to watch Spongebob, you have to go to the pediatric dentist in Bedford, which is a half-hour drive from here.

One of the problems, I think, is that what excites me most about homeschooling, and thus what I talk on and on about, is often not what would excite most other parents about their children's education.

It excites me that the girls get to play pretend ponies for as long as they want, and never get interrupted.

It excites me that most days we bicycle to the park, and that park that's a block away is generally a three-hour trip, door to door.

It excites me that Willow doesn't even bother to ask for my help with Zoo Tycoon anymore, because she's way better at it than I am--"No, Momma, the spotted hyena needs a den to sleep in, not the bamboo bungalo!"

It excites me that sometimes the girls don't even get dressed all day, because they're too busy drawing, and playing, and listening to audiobooks, and lying on top of their bed staring out the window. If they don't feel like going anywhere or doing anything in particular, then we don't.

It excites me that I don't have to try to make the girls go to sleep at night if they're not sleepy, and I don't have to wake them up in the morning if they are.

It excites me that we can spend the whole day at the library, including the half-hour bike ride there and back, and we can stop at the park on the way, too, and at lunchtime we can walk over to another park to hear a concert.

Are those things nothing? They seem vitally important to me.

I always forget to bring up the stuff that I probably should be telling everyone about.

Willow can read anything you put in front of her--is there a certain grade level associated with that?

Magic Tree House CD Collection Books 9-16The girls have listened to the Magic Tree House audiobooks so many times that they can tell you all about Pompeii, the Titanic, the Great San Francisco Earthquake, the shoguns of China, and one-room schoolhouses.

They're quite looking forward to the Disaster Dioramas of Pompeii and the Titanic that I told them that we could make next week.

Willow is fascinated by human evolution. We all watched Ape to Man the other day when it was her turn to choose the movie, then we checked out the interactive timeline on the Smithsonian website, and then we had Matt print a bunch of pre-human bios to put on our basement timeline.

We're also building a miniature log cabin with twigs and hot glue, and a chia farm in the pony playset.

Sydney and I made half a dozen pinwheels that spin in the wind, and the next time we get to Lowe's we have a list of supplies that will improve our design immensely.

The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: The Modern Age: Audiobook (Vol. 4) (Story of the World) (v. 4)Every time we're in the car, we listen to The Story of the World, and it's the first time that I've really understood world history.

We took a field trip to an apple orchard. We took a field trip to a famous fossil site. We took a field trip to a different apple orchard.

On the two-hour drive to fossil site, Willow read Shel Silverstein poems out loud to Sydney, and both girls laughed and laughed and laughed.

Today we collected pinecones.

We also made bracelets out of UV-reactive beads, so that we'll know when to put sunscreen on.

Tomorrow we're going to bake a chocolate cake just for the hell of it.
Is that what I should be explaining about homeschooling?


FairyLover said...

Man, can I come to your house to homeschool. You make everything sound so fun.


Tina said...

I have the same problem trying to explain unschooling to people. I should just send them your link :)

My 4yo also LOVES the Magic Tree House audio books. We drove from Iowa to NH this past summer and we listened to the CD's non stop the entire way there and back. I have to admit that I have learned a lot from them as well.

All the things that your girls are doing are truly important because it is what they want to be doing, not what someone else thinks they should be doing. What they are learning now will be more valuable to them then most anything that can be taught in school.

Thanks for the great post!

Stephanie said...

Awesome post.
The "get this look on their face and then I get even more intense" sounds familiar. :) (Not just about hsing, either!) :/

I love this post!!

Malke said...

We should all be so lucky. I think you explained it beautifully! :)

julie said...

Aww, thanks, you guys! I'm totally calling y'all up for hand-holding the next time I get stressed!