Well, not back exactly. Depending on how you look at it, we’re either just beginning or we’re just continuing on the same path we’ve been on. But a few things have changed.
This week, all across America, H1’s age mates are heading off to kindergarten. So, I guess we’ve “officially” begun our homeschool journey. I’ve created a daily and weekly schedule for the family. It includes some “kid school” time among many of the activities we already participate in.
Our daily routine includes a trip to a local park. Today the park was full of other kindergarteners burning off steam after their first day of school. Which is how I came to have what I am sure is only the beginning of a long line of annoying conversations. It went like this:
Nice dad in the park: So how old is your son?
Me: He’s 5.
NDIP: So he’s in kindergarten?
NDIP: So is my daughter. She goes to [local highly rated elementary school]. Where does your son go?
Me: We homeschool.
NDIP: Oh. Do you do that on your own or as part of a group?
At this point I explain the once a week homeschool enrichment program that H1 attends.
NDIP: Oh. We thought about homeschooling, but we wanted her to be around kids her own age.
Me, inwardly rolling my eyes: Well, that’s one of the nice things about this program.
Now, I could have said any number of things: “Really? Why?” or “Hmmm. We don’t really want our son to have friends.” or “I plan to intentionally keep my kid from all kids his age. In fact, crap! We should leave the park right now as this place is crawling with kindergardeners.”
Now, I don’t believe this man had any malicious intent or realized that what he said could have been offensive. Now that I’ve had time to process it, I think the main problem here is that the topic of homeschooling is a small talk killer. Though homeschooling is becoming more and more common, it still one of those things that people don’t quite know how to respond to. But really, at least in the context of meeting a stranger in the park, it’s not that big a deal. It’s just what we do. And it’s not a commentary on your family and the choices you’ve made. I don’t care. Really. I fully believe that each family has the right and the capability to make good decisions for itself. You don’t have to defend your choices to me.
Also, schooling is so prevalaent and so mainstream that, when it comes to school-age kids, we don’t know what else to talk about. So maybe I need to come up with a way to quickly redirect the conversation to a non-school, “how’s-the-weather” sort of topic. Maybe, “do you live in the neighborhood? Isn’t it great to be so near such a beautiful park?”
As for the rest of our day, I think it went pretty well. School around here is pretty loose. I’ve only scheduled in 2 or 3 short lessons a day. We have dedicated time for Reading, Math and Spanish. Everything else is well covered by our daily living. For example, while we have no “science time,” in the past week we’ve learned how to identify a swallow, discovered volcanic rock in our back yard, learned all about how sound waves travel through the air and into our ear where they vibrate the ear drum and the cochlea turns them into electrical impulses which the brain interprets as sound. And more. Really, when it comes to science, I’m learning more from him than I’m teaching him!
Our very first intro to kid school was today’s phonics lesson. He resisted, but once we got started he enjoyed it and it was quick and painless. He then insisted on listening to the phonics song over and over and over and over again. After kid school we headed out to the museum of nature and science. While H2 napped we did a Spanish lesson. Again, he resisted, but didn’t want to stop once we started. He seems to be wary of anything that may have expectations of him attached to it. So, for now, kid school is optional to him. I’m going to do the lesson no matter what, and he can choose whether to participate. So far that strategy has worked well with him.
Tomorrow he’ll go to his first full-day of his enrichment program. I’ll admit I’m nervous. Orientation was less than wonderful for us. Hopefully he’ll hang in there a bit better tomorrow. We shall see.