Recently I got to wondering…what do my kids think about homeschooling?
I, personally, like the way we don’t sequester education into an entirely separate sphere. We learn right here in the same place where we live. I myself experienced both traditional school and homeschooling; I vastly prefer the self-paced, relaxed atmosphere of home.
But do my kids appreciate the same thing? So I asked them. Instead of lobbing a general question like “What do you think about homeschooling?”, I took a more guided approach. I sat down with each one separately and asked, “What makes you think about school, using all five senses?”
I was surprised at what I discovered.
“What do you see?” elicited almost uniform responses: “Schoolbooks.” There were mentions of pencils and schoolwork, too. I tried to prompt them further. I pointed out to Gamerboy, “You get to see your new tadpoles throughout the day.”
“But my tadpoles aren’t for school,” he replied.
Next, I asked about what they heard during the school day. We’re at home, so these answers could include everything from the dishwasher going, to birds singing outside, to the bunny chewing on something…is that a library book?! All four kids answered readily:
“Dad talking to me about math.”
“Mom talking about school.”
“Keys clacking, pencils scratching.”
“Somebody saying, ‘STOP MAKING NOISES I’M DOING SCHOOL’ with 15 exclamation points.”
When I brought up birds or kitchen appliances, they all said the same thing: “But that’s not school.”
I moved on to smells, which stumped them for a moment. After a bit of thought, they came up with some answers: books, pencils, paper. I suggested popcorn, a scent that at that very moment filled the house.
Bookgirl said, “I thought you wanted school-related stuff.”
She had the perfect answer for the taste. “Sugar water! From a biology experiment I did to isolate strawberry DNA!” The others, however, couldn’t think of anything they’d ever tasted during their entire homeschooled existence. I finally prompted them, “What do you enjoy eating when you’re doing school?” Pretzels go well with math, it turns out. And the two boys like their every-other-day lunch treat, Lunchables. But they were really just humoring me; their real opinion was obvious:
“That’s not really school.”
I had high hopes for the touch category. They accomplish most of their school in the ultimate comfort of home. Fuzzy blankets, snug beds, sprawled out on the carpet petting the bunny while reading. Their answers?
(As a side note, I’m a little fascinated by this omnipresence of pencils, considering that we lose about 26 of them per day.)
When I nudged Sparkler to think a little more, she eventually came up with “couch.” This while she was snuggled up against me, skin to skin, a normal way we do our together-lessons.
I’d caught on by this time. Snuggling isn’t school. It’s just part of how we do life.
This experiment was enlightening for me. Even though my children have always been homeschooled, “school” is still a distinct experience from how they play and live. They don’t realize yet how much education goes on in the everyday moments of life.
That’s just fine. I still think that the idea of combining life with school is a good one. My hope is that, when they look back on these years, all those sights, smells, and the rest of “home” will infuse comfort and security into their memories of “school.”
How do your children perceive their school with each of their senses?
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images courtesy of Sara Jones.