01 August 2009

School Stuff vs. Fun Stuff

Patrick loves to make fun of our homeschooling. I'm not sure if it is because he is JEALOUS that we are having fun with it or if it is simply because he thinks our schooling materials are a bit... backward. He calls us "Amish homeschoolers" and likes to laugh at the readers I pick out.

"In every story, there's the bad kid who disobeys his parents and dies or loses his money," he snorted once. "And there's a good kid who like, gets an orange or something for a reward at the end."

Well, whatever. But this is the same child who will spend hours online memorizing statistics about various Pokemon characters, sorting through his card collection and playing the game on his DS. He's even been to a few league sessions and enjoys it immensely.

My point being, he learns quite a bit without anyone telling him what to learn, when or where. It isn't necessarily something I would select as curriculum were I homeschooling him, but I sure think those hours could be counted as a "Pokemon Elective." Who says it all has to be about home economics and woodworking if that isn't what interests the child?

Widdle Shamrock blogged recently about how her unschooled homeschoolers are interested in "boring" school-type stuff, to the horror of their friends.

"The boys never realised they were being ‘taught’ until we made friends with some mainstreamed children," she wrote. "The toys the boys pulled out were ‘learning stuff and boring’ according to the friends. From that moment, things changed for us in the sense that whenever we went to ‘do’ anything, the boys would ask, ‘is this learning or is this fun?’"

I have to admit to doing rather the opposite during the course of a day. I'll realize they were *actually discussing something school-related* and jump in to say, "That's a half hour of homeschool, RIGHT THERE!" and snicker to myself when the older boys overhearing protest that they weren't talking about it for a full half hour, that you can't count regular conversations as "school," etc..

I don't log every conversation we have down, naturally, but I did log down the three hours they spent (so far) watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. "Why isn't McClellan attacking?!" Elf keeps turning to ask me. I think TV time can be learning time sometimes, and I guess having homeschooled, the children don't see much difference between school and life. They are, however, asking frequently about whether this "counts" toward their hours.

Not that they should have to worry about that. Missouri state law dictates 1,000 hours per school year, and we logged close to 1900 last year. I love my curriculum-in-a-box stuff even if it doesn't all come from the same box (!), but I can't say anywhere close to all our learning occurs during the hours we're doing worksheets.


  1. My problem is Ditz running screaming through the house going, "NOOOOO!!!! You can't count that for school stuff! That's drama[or music or writing but obviously NOT school]" Terrific. So what am I suppossed to tell her supervisor? The child sits on her butt all day every day staring vaguely into space while growing mold over her eyes?! One day it's going to sink in that life is learning & EVERYTHING counts!!!!

  2. A new phrase I heard the other day-- "Brain Fakes: making someone believe they're learning one thing when they're actually learning another." One of the greatest tools in a teacher's arsenal.

    As for your son . . . I feel your pain. Some of it is the age (from about thirteen until . . . ?). But it is exasperating, isn't it?

    I've lived with the older child who went to high school (after being homeschooled for eight years) and dealt with the comparisons between the "superior education" he was getting there versus what his brothers were getting at home (I was wounded, if you want the truth). He made the mistake of making one of those disparaging remarks within his father's hearing once.

    Gary asked him "Who taught you to read?"

    Jeremiah replied (mumbled) "Mom did."

    "Yeah? Are you sure? Are you sure you didn't teach yourself? And what level were you reading at by the time you were fourteen?"


    "Huh. Tell us again what your high school entrance exam score was, will you?"

    "College level," My son began to look uncomfortable.

    "Wow. And did you manage that all by yourself? 'Cause I'm thinking you didn't--I think you had a little help. Like maybe in the form of a homeschooling mother."

    Jeremiah acknowledged that just maybe his dad had a point.

    It didn't stop him from being obnoxious about it ever again, but he was more careful.

    I did find some of his insights useful and I learned to make use of his inside scoop on things for my third born who will be going to high school next year. Asking his advice occasionally went a long way toward making him feel like he was still a part of things at home--which I suspect was at the core of some of his criticisms.

  3. 1900 hours? Isn't that child abuse, making a child learn that much? And what if your children aren't equal with their friends because your children's academic skills are higher than their school-taught friend's skills? That could lead to hurt feelings and further inequality. You'd better be careful. It sounds like you're getting carried away with this education stuff.

  4. Mrs. C., I think when your kids are done with home schooling you should get certified and go into education yourself. If you could stand being an administrator, with your family background and experience you would be fantastic at sorting out the kind of school problems like that supposed "calming down" room!

    Dedicated Elementary Teacher Overseas (in the Middle east)

  5. Harry, you have not been drinking the kool-aid they serve at some of your faculty meetings, obviously. Don't you know that the party line is that all homeschoolers are abusive by their very nature? :P

    Eileen, I don't think I could stand it!! To me it would almost be like joining the Democratic party to try to "reform" it from the inside! I don't know how Christian educators can stand it sometimes, but thank God for 'em!

  6. Bahaha, I jump in with other parents who mainstream when they 'homeschool'

    We don't have a suggestion as to how many hours a year.

    Saying 12 weeks a year for holidays, (though I think we have more) that is 25 hours a week. Doesn't sound much at all really.

    I should add too, Unschoolers do not consider us unschoolers as we do worksheets etc.

    Do you find people quite 'snobby' for want of a better word, when sharing what style/curriculum they use?


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)