Tuesday, September 8, 2009

(Not) Back To School

Sharon made a really good point in her post today about homeschooling. She said that "any of us may find a reason to homeschool", and what she says may be more true than even she realizes - in the very near future.

This year, in response to the swine flu scare, schools in Argentina were closed, and parents were told they would need to homeschool. Now, to be very clear, what they meant by homeschooling was that students would be given their "regular" school assignments, which they would complete at home, rather than at school, and certainly, that's not the way my family homeschools.

But the point is not to dissect the different ways we all chose to homeschool, but rather to point out that *it* could happen, that we might have to homeschool, because there is no other option, and truly, there are places in this country where municipal budgets are being cut to the bone. How unrealistic is it to believe that as budgets get cut, so do schools get closed?

In addition, in the interest of sustainability, there is just no way that our modern schools can continue to operate. Even the most "green" school buildings are energy sucking hogs. Just getting the kids to the school, in many cases, uses too much energy, and then, to keep the lights on, the buildings warm, and the grounds maintained is incredibly wasteful.

Sharon shared a bit about her homeschool day, and I thought I'd like to do the same.

We don't *do* school here. We don't have a regular time each day set aside for school work. We don't even have regular school work that requires doing. We have some regularly scheduled activities, like dance classes, and classes on other topics that pique our interest.

This year Big Little Sister has requested that I help her develop a curriculum, and she decided to focus on Ancient Egypt. Usually, though, we just follow our interests, and somehow, my girls have managed to learn the basics ... plus a lot more stuff that I have no idea how they figured out.

We don't chop our year into "school" time and *not* "school" time, either. Our *year* is from September to August, and we don't ever really stop (or start) "school." The event that marks our passage from one year to the next is my completing our "portfolio" (which is really just a scrapbook of our year), and sending a letter to the State that says, "we're gonna homeschool our kids."

In fact, many of the activities that we do during the "school" year, we also do during that special time of year other kids call "summer vacation." We take dance classes during the summer, and this year, Little Fire Faery continued her violin lessons through the summer months.

This year, we spent part of the summer continuing our survival skills education, and we built a wigwam.

And today, while all of the other kids in our town were in school ...

We went "not" back to school and spent a few hours at the beach.

Yesterday, at this time of day (high tide) we wouldn't have been able to sit where we were sitting, because there would have been too many people.

During low tide, the water is almost all the way to the end of this pier.

We love Labor Day, because the day after is our time to enjoy our beach.

For us, the answer to the question, what's it like to homeschool? is, it's like a day at the beach ... but it's also so much more.


  1. It is a day on the couch watching So You Think You Can Dance. It is Tae Kwon Do and dance and tumbling. It is learning lating because it sounds interesting. It is learning about herbal medicine because you want to know.

    Good post.

  2. It's about rainy days on the couch reading a big ole' pile of picture books. It's about 2 boys, 13 years apart,playing legos, It is about fun. It is about knowing when to change direction when something isn't working and not feeling committed to a curriculum established by a committee of '"experts"

    Aahhh Freedom!

  3. Ha! Ha! Christy, when I saw "learning lating, because it sounds interesting", I wondered :). My twelve year old wants to learn Greek - for ths same reason ... and also Hawaiian. Funny girl, she is ;). This year, though, she's agreed to stick with something more familiar to Mom - French ;). Personally, I wish she'd pick German, instead, but ... whatevah!

    Indeed, Fleecenik - Freedom!

    Ain't it grand!?!

  4. I just love it! I am very familar with the pier you speak of, and the fries therein (MMmmMMmmm...)! I also believe in learning through the summer, although admittedly we do slow things down in the summer. In general, we try to find learning opportunities in just about everything we do, so in reality everything is actually "school" when you think about it.

    Having just quit my "day job" as a public school teacher to return home, I can tell you that your predicted future is not unreasonable at all. I've seen that things keep getting cut and cut to the point where kids ARE being "left behind". I am not excited about the idea that swine flu (or any flu) is on its way, so we're all doing our part to stay healthy - eat better, wash our hands, etc. We're eating much more fruit now that I'm home again (and therefore have more time to prepare decent meals and keep a better eye on the quality of the food we eat rather than being in a rush to get everyone out the door in the morning). I think it will go a long way to helping us have a much healthier flu season here in this house.

    I love the beach pics and the idea of "not" back to school. Ahhhhh...life is good, isn't it?

  5. Witchy Mom - Until the consolidation took effect, I transcribed our school board minutes, and I know how things were getting cut from listening to the budget issues. It was a mess.

    I'm thankful that *if* (when) something like school closures happen, it won't really affect us, because we already homeschool, and my hope is that I'll actually be able to be of some help to others, in my community, who are just starting the homeschool journey. I, too, am a former public school teacher, and one of the things I do each year is evaluate portfolios for other homeschoolers. It's a lot of fun ;).

    Yes, indeed - life is very good :)!

  6. It's a day of picking wild grapes and making grape juice, observing tomato hornworms that have wasp larvae growing on their backs (fascinating, but we feel sort of bad for the caterpillars being eaten alive), and reading a Richard Scarry book about jobs that people do which led to a conversation about the difference between city water and well water (there's a picture of sewage plant workers).

    My kinda day! :o)