My side of many conversations with non-homeschoolers looks something like this:
“Yes, we homeschool.”
“No, we don’t spend that much time at home.”
Does this make homeschooling a misnomer? What exactly are we doing at home and while out and about. Since we are Classically Eclectic, we do a bit of workbook and assigned readings at home. There are apps and programs that I direct the kids to utilize for some required minimum amount of time. We use and love the Workbox System. I adapted it for our needs using craft boxes, and clearly labeling the inside lid with directions.
My oldest, only 7, is now very independent in her work and requested an assignment notebook so she could better manage her time while working. I periodically print the required work for each day and she works through the list. (Insert picture)
However, by no means is all our education done in isolation at the dining room table.
The children have taken part in a wonderful experiential science class through the Mass Audubon, swimming, rock climbing and soccer at the YMCA, music lessons through a variety of teachers and schools. They take art classes at the Museum of Fine Arts, kayak down the Charles, and participate in Faith Formation classes at our church.
However, one of the most valuable communities we have found is the Classical Conversations homeschool community in Burlington, MA. Classical Conversations is a homeschool group that meets once a week for 24 weeks and teaches classes of age organized children a curriculum based on the Trivium. They cover History, Geography, Mathematics, Science, Latin, Grammar, and Timeline for the Grammar stage children. In addition, each week there is a science lab and an art project. Half of the year art is devoted to music. This community has taken a huge burden of teaching off of my shoulders.
The children have made friends that they eat lunch with, have a recess with, make presentations to, and generally practice sharing, taking turns, having disagreements, and hone the intangibles of how to get along with people. As valuable as it may be, I don’t spend much time in our homeschool practicing raising hands, and standing in line. I still let my 4 year old win and games and it has made him a terrible loser.
Other people are the whet stone that will sharpen my children. Other kids will not tolerate bossiness, poor sportsmanship, or unnecessary crying. These important skills are learned in community. By no means am I saying that they need to spend 40 hours a week in a classroom with other kids to become socialized, but some time without Mommy directing their play so that everyone gets along is invaluable.
In addition, our local homeschool community has hosted a used curriculum sale, a hand-me-down clothes and toys swap, created a year book, ran a prayer circle, took toys to the children of incarcerated parents, and so many other wonderful things. At the end of the year, there is a program that the non-homeschooling family and friends are welcome to come and see. The children get to share their accomplishments. Older communities may host dances, proms, field trips, college visits…..the sky is the limit.
My children love when I play with them. If I’m honest, I don’t always ( read rarely) enjoy playing. I think at some point most adults lose that whimsy and attention to the present that play requires. I’m always thinking about what I need to do for the house, who I need to call back, or wondering what, on earth, am I going to make for dinner.
Children want to play. It’s an essential part of how they learn and grow. Have you ever seen a child try to play Twister alone? It’s funny, and sad. They need playmates. They need community. We all do.