Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Homeschooling and Idealism

A few years ago, I remember some people talking about how they wouldn't get their kids lessons for certain things because they are homeschooling and it is THEIR job to teach their kids. Even back in my most idealistic days, I don't think I could completely nod in agreement. And I would definitely have to say there are things that I cannot teach my kids as well as someone else.

Arts and crafts come to mind as one thing. My housekeeping abilities are so limited that the idea of adding glue, glitter, and paper scraps to the mass of dust, food, and animal hair just simply overwhelm me.

We have a woman in our congregation who teaches piano to my son and to another homeschooler. She has skill, ability, and understanding that I don't. And not only that, he benefits greatly from having a relationship from this truly wonderful woman. He respects her, and she understands him. He practices because she feeds his love for music. And one joy from that, too...I stay completely out of it. If he doesn't practice, he can deal with her, and he won't know his songs so he doesn't move forward. I don't even go to the lessons. I reap the rewards of it though; music fills my house, and I have the joy of knowing this is one thing that is not on my shoulders (which is probably why he loves it).

But there are simply some things that kids will do better for other people. I remember I used to love to clean my brother's room (as a surprise) because I felt like I was helping him. I HATED cleaning mine. My son helps an elderly woman in our congregation with chores occasionally. He does things for her that I have to pull teeth to get him to do.

Swimming is another thing. I have been amazed at the skill of people who teach kids to swim. I loved the young woman we had last year. My son would become convinced that he had to kick with his knees bent or he didn't feel like he was going anywhere. "I need you to straighten out your legs" she would say. Then Chris would go into his rationale. She would nod and listen and then say "Uh-huh, okay...but I need you to straighten your legs," all with this syrupy sweet tone in her voice. I would've been tearing my hair out. However, I was gratified that at least he did TRY to give her the arguments that he usually is giving me....

Scouts and sports have also been things that amaze me in what they can get out of my kid....my comfort-loving, pain-despising kid. Just today, he was going around complaining about his knee (most of the day) and then he decides to go running in his cleats and when he comes back, I asked about his knee "Oh, I stretched it out, its fine." Then he went off to practice where they had sliding and pick-off practice.

(okay, I am a huge baseball fan, but you would HAVE to pay me millions of dollars to convince me to throw my body on the ground for a little white ball. My brain doesn't say "this game is on the line," "I gotta make this play," etc. My brain says "Its a ball. It doesn't feel pain...I do.")

The kid who complains if I lower the thermostat by one degree has spent nights out in the woods sleeping with twigs digging into his back, rain pouring outside, and the temperature above or below freezing...and come back saying "my sleeping bag could've been warmer, but I had a blast." And in the midst of a deluge, his scoutleader has taught them to whittle, build survival shelters, and cook all three meals every day. Would've never done it for me -- or even for his dad. (and lest you think I am berating him for being a wimp...I am EVERY bit and more the wimp that he is)

Through the commitments that have been made to neighbors, piano teachers, choir, Scout troop, church, and other things...my son has also learned duty, obligation, and responsibility-- and he enjoys the feeling of competency and respect that this gives him. I can't imagine the idea of training him to be a man in a vacuum separated from the world. It just wouldn't work. And I look forward to watching my daughter learn these same lessons through her journey as well.

So while homeschooling is awesome, and while over the course of years I have taught many useful things, enjoyable and unenjoyable, I continually realize that there are things that I can't teach my kids, that I don't want to teach my kids, or that my kids won't learn from me. And you know what....I'm just fine with that.

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