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Sunday, December 18, 2016

New Reason Number One: FUN!!!

Truly, there isn't a number one reason why WE homeschool. An earlier entry mentions "Socialization" as my number one reason. That I can help my children to be "socialized" to the kind of environments that reflect future realities (that they will need to interact with people of different ages, different backgrounds, and who have different objectives), not to mention that I get to have a relationship with my children NOW (teaching social skills by MY example instead of allowing them to haphazardly glean social norms from peers), is certainly one of the things I love most about homeschooling.

But increasingly as we are out and about, living our lives and serving in the community at times when all the rest of the children are locked away in institutions, and when I see eyes widen when I answer that my kids are not with the rest because we homeschool, what I really want to make evident (and what should be inherently evident if you watch us for a few moments), is that we homeschool to have FUN!

Somehow, no one wants to believe that fun is a reason. Either they don't believe I'm REALLY having fun, or they don't believe THEY could have fun with their children. Maybe most adults don't talk about fun as a value, or if they think fun is important, they would never admit it. So they laugh as if I've shared a joke.

Well, we can all laugh at outrageous things, can't we? If we've gone to school, perhaps the idea that history, geography, or social studies can be fun is outrageous. Folks seem baffled that what we study comes from books from the library, and we know WHAT to check out based on what we are interested in and what looks interesting. (Not everything we are interested in looks interesting, and not every thing that looks interesting captures our interest, and that's okay.)

If we've studied the same rules of English grammar for 12 years, it may seem like an outrageous suggestion that good writing is born from reading, and not from an obsessive breaking down and deconstructing of tired sentences.

What seems outrageous to me is that in all the times I surely griped about studying my times tables and whined I hated math, that no one took 2 minutes to comfort me with the fact that when you have your 2's, 5's, 10's, and 11's down, that there are only about 28 facts left, and that there is a trick to the nine's and once you know the trick, you're left with only about 22 facts and that is SO MUCH MORE palatable than 144 facts to know! Why did no one sing me crazy skip counting songs? Why did no one attempt to teach me stories to help me keep my facts straight? Instead, I was left to suffer, and muddle through, and believe I didn't muddle very well... but it didn't matter anyway because math wasn't very fun and why would I ever do it when I was a grown-up and could CHOSE what I learned and did!?!!

Is school today the same as it was for me? If a teacher sang songs about math and read great books and made learning something FUN, would it be cheating? A friend of mine told me that a pre-school teacher frowned on using a video in her classes which engaged 3 year-olds and taught them to recognize their letters and sounds. Why? Perhaps in her mind, parents shouldn't pay her if they could plop their kids in front of a fun video and have them master in a few weeks the same material she slaved away to teach (and with less successful results too) over a period of several months? If this teacher's perspective seems valid, might it not also be true that we complicate A LOT of learning in school to justify all the time and expense we spend on school? Clearly, fun is not the current primary objective of our school systems. But have you considered that filling time and filling buildings may be? And if that is what we are truly filling, and not so much brains with knowledge or minds with understanding, is it a shame or shock that homeschooling for us would look almost nothing like public schooling?

Maybe all the grown-ups that laugh about homeschooling being fun learned best in school that learning isn't very fun, and if we say it is, we must be pretending for some child's benefit (but the adults know better, wink-wink).

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