Oh, yes…it’s a fair question. Considering how long it’s been since I’ve written a blog post paragraph sentence about homeschooling in this blog, it would be safe to assume the title is simply an unfortunate attempt of former street wise cat to create a more family friendly persona. “Big Daddy? No, its Homeschooldaddy now. I’ve settled down, dude!”
Um, no. I do still homeschool, and it is still a main catalyst for the lifestyle I lead. Despite all the life changes and career changes that have occured in 2009, the one constant has been my waking moments filled with the blessing and burden of managing (no longer can I truthfully say leading) my children’s education. Now in 6th and 7th grade, both my son and daughter have become very independent learners. Not that they weren’t already self starters, but as their interests have expanded, there has been less and less of a need for me to be constantly ‘on top’ of them to require certain assignments, save the curriculum guided language arts and math work that requires sequential testing. They both have entered Virtual School, which here in Florida is a free service provided for any Florida resident that wants to sign up. It’s a magnificent program with monthly phone calls and excellent instructors, and perhaps I’ve been a little worried that they were taking my place as the primary educators in the subjects they teach my kids. Then I realized, that’s the point. They can handle any type of instructor because they are taking ownership of their learning, which was always my goal – not that they look to me as some shaman of knowledge, but that they truly desire excellence because it is available to them.
They also were able to sign up for new classes in P.E., which was a boon for my sports addicted son, and not entirely rejected by my sweat adverse daughter, and they continued enrichment classes in Chess, Dance, Writing, Ceramics, and several other courses. I continue to be amazed at the variety of classes available to homeschoolers. It is truly an example of what a community of like minded citizens can create with little (read NO) help from the government. If you want to see a village raising not just one child, but a generation of children, check out my park group at 1:30 on Tuesdays.
2009 did bring educational challenges, however. I found that my daughter was still lagging in the traditional sense in math, which improved greatly with our switch to Saxon. I was faced with the mounting pressure to keep up with several new classes and subjects that I didn’t feel I prepared for adequately. The kids had to stay home alone more frequently than I would like. And finally there was the very real possibility that financial pressures would end our homeschooling experiment altogether. That and my new work schedule required a hard look at the choices we were making and moved us more into a standard schooling structure than I usually would feel comfortable with. I can say with assurance now that we did make the transition OK, and if at some point the kids have to return to public school I can feel more at ease. In all, it is a testament to the whole ideal of homeschooling that we were able to continue my children’s path to a full and robust life of learning despite the obstacles. At the heart of it, it is still the emphasis on family that makes us strong, makes us flexible, and able to recreate ourselves and guide our children down different paths. Those same twists and turns will happen in their adult lives, and our educational decisions can only help them see how many different paths can still lead to the same goal. That’s all a homeschooldaddy could hope for at this juncture.
I’ll have much more about our 2010 goals when I think of them. Which is not going to be now. 🙂
Until then, looking unto the hills,