Monday, September 04, 2006

Back-to-prison season?

As the kids and I read the Sunday comics yesterday, we saw several with a back-to-school theme, or, more accurately (given the jokes) "my last weekend of freedom" theme.

I felt a deep rush of gratitude for our homeschooling. We do not see our times of learning as dull, confining, imprisoning or beyond our control, and it saddens me that so many kids do come to see school in those ways. (Disclaimer for any new readers: I am not bashing schools; my husband teaches in one. He tries to keep his classroom from resembling a prison, but the very structure of school lends itself to the analogy. I do, however, believe that he's a great teacher, and that there are a lot of other great teachers out there.)

We now return to our previously scheduled programming: The girls are excited about the things we're going to explore, and so am I. They've been asking, "When do we get to start reading those books about World War II?" (as soon as we finish this Martha book, the last in our summer read-aloud series) and "Can I use this drawing book right now?" (Yes, yes, yes.) They've called me in to see a DNA model they made out of pop-it beads and said, "I can't wait to learn more about genetics. This is going to be so interesting."

I don't want this to sound like a brag session about my brilliant kids. Our homeschool is far from perfect, and I know that the enthusiasm of new ideas, autumn's cool weather and renewed energy will give way to, ahem, shall we say, "other feelings" during our school year. We'll have our bad days. Some of the things we explore will bore them. Sometimes our house will feel like a zoo.

However (and this is a huge, enormous, life-altering "however"), we'll be able to deal with the bad days, the boredom, the zoo-iness and the good stuff in our own way, at our own speed. We'll have the freedom to stop, evaluate, regroup and realign, if necessary. We'll be free to recognize that learning and enthusiasm do wax and wane, and we can adjust accordingly.

And we can do it all without the very sad feeling that we're prisoners.

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