So there are both advantages and disadvantages of schooling at home for years and years. I’m not talking about the obvious (you can wear your pajamas, you don’t have to pack a lunch, you can wear your pajamas…)
No, I mean the habit of schooling at home is both a boon and a challenge.
Jonah is in ninth grade, and his last full-time, out-of-home schooling was in Chicago ten years ago. Since that, we’ve been learning at home. The advantages:
- my kids know the drill. They get up in the morning, grab their assignment sheets and go to work, often even before breakfast.
- we can take up in the fall (almost) right where we left off. Thursday we jumped right back into the middle of By the Shores of Silver Lake. I asked the kids to recap where the Ingalls family was, and they summed it up in a few sentences before we started reading. Phoebe was in the middle of a math book, and she just hopped right to it and did an exercise before I got out of the shower.
- you can keep using the same supplies. We have a bin of hundreds of colored pencils, all somewhere between almost-new and too-short-to-sharpen. I didn’t feel compelled to spend $20 on four sets of eight new pencils, a different set for each child’s classroom.
- no one brings teacher-notes home. Each of my kids has at least one annoying school habit: one likes to hang upside down while I read aloud, one interrupts a lot, one starts side conversations, and one is sometimes too busy drawing to listen. But we know this already, and I’m not waiting each afternoon for the backpack containing the note from the teacher who just discovered how annoying a talking, disruptive, artistic opossum can be during class.
- my kids know the drill. We may change up a few things, but there’s aren’t any new faces in our class this year. No one is quietly sitting in their seats on their best behavior lest this year’s teacher is secretly an ogre.
- we can take up right where we left off. There’s something fun about new books that do things differently. There’s always a chance they’ll go over something you already know, and then you’ll get a bye for two weeks while everyone studies the pilgrims or the water cycle yet again.
- no (or few) new school supplies. Who doesn’t love new markers?
- no notes home. Wait… um, that’s not a disadvantage.
The kids did start a new one-day-a-week homeschool school this week. (Enrichment school? I never know what to call it.) My parents called the night before to talk to the kids before they “started their new school.” The children had the butterflies of “Will I make new friends?” and “What if I can’t find my classes?” and “What if my teacher doesn’t like me?” We had to buy new dividers and pencils and markers and water bottles. The kids thought carefully about what to wear (well, most of them did). It’s fun. New things are fun. They made new friends and re-discovered old ones. They are going to have some interesting classes and some new teachers. It’s good. But it’s not where the majority of our learning happens.
I’m grateful for new opportunities. I’m grateful for new faces and different teaching styles and that my kids have the chance to learn from other teachers. But their first day of school was Monday. No one had to pack a lunch, but they all chose to stay in their pajamas till noon.