Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Do you homeschool...?"

The most flattering question I have been asked of late does not pertain to personal appearance. Instead it's, "Do you homeschool...?"

In fact, I have been asked that several times in the last few months.

Perhaps it's because of my book cataloging project.

Or the Stuffed Animal Classification project. (That was awesome.)

Or my kids' big vocabulary.

Or seeing the kids haul stuffed animals named "Euclid" and "Ozymandius" around.

Or the kids' binders of fiction, non-fiction, and science created just for them.

Bear reads a story about himself in Danny's binder.

Perhaps its because of the curriculum materials I keep on hand.

Or the way I let Danny "check out" at the grocery store. (He hits the "Debit," "No cash back," "enter," and "okay" buttons. I still won't let him input my pin. Who knows what nefarious things he would do with that knowledge.)

Perhaps its because, when I play with Danny in the lobby at Pediatric Therapy, I say things like, "Oh dear. Your tower fell over. That's because the center of gravity fell outside its base of support. Ah, well. Try again."

Mommy explains about the "center of gravity." 08/03/2008.

Maybe its the compulsively pedantic way I answer the kids' questions.

Whatever the reason, I confess it: I am a teacher at heart. They have such amazing minds, I think it would be a lot of fun to homeschool! (Of course, it would be a lot of work, too. I would have to stay organized. And scheduled. And structured. And--ick!--keep records.)

Still, if I lived in a polygamous household, I know what I would propose. I would let all the sister-wives do the cookin' and cleanin', and I would volunteer to run the schoolroom!

If it weren't for their social needs, I might even try homeschool. I am certainly prepared to pull them out of middle school if necessary. (Is there anyone--anyone at all--who did not have at least one miserable middle-school year? Anybody out there who really enjoyed sixth, seventh, and eighth grades?)

The nice thing about home enrichment is that you can do things impossible in the classroom. I can turn my living room into an obstacle course and "allow" each boy to run a phase of it after correctly answering a math question, for instance.

I can throw piano lessons in whenever they are convenient.

I can drop everything and run to the computer to run a google image search on what I'm talking about.

I know that cooking and cleaning have eternal significance, too. But somehow they just aren't as rewarding as seeing the "Aha!" moments first-hand, or hearing their amazing questions.

On the other hand...once Danny starts pre-school next month, I will have five mornings a week--all to myself!

And I like Eric's teacher.

The really nice thing about being a professional parent is that I can supplement easily. :)

Some of my best educational successes are showcased below:

"My Body is a Fortress" sharing time activity. (The fort is made, naturally, out of food storage. Lots of whole grains, in keeping with the Word of Wisdom theme.) "Good" items are allowed inside through the drawbridge; "bad" ones are left to drown in the moat. 05/26/2002.

"! Day match!" I had tried to prepare Eric for a new little brother by getting an educational doll. Eric made the connection very quickly! I was so proud! 01/30/2004.

Start the reading habit young. 06/30.2004

An Aspie, labelling the world. Those letter blocks have been the best educational investment....09/24/2004.

Mommy and Daddy pay Eric to read to Danny so they can work on Thanksgiving dinner. 11/23/2005

As soon as Danny turned 3, we could play with legos! Our first creation was a castle. Of course. 02/02/2007.

Family Home Evening lesson about first aid. Bear's friends splint his broken leg, lash a stretcher with a handkerchief, chopsticks, and yarn, and carry him back to civilization for long-term medical care. 07/29/2007.

"The Brother of Jared, the Eight Boats, and the Night-Lights." Who needs the "Living Scripture" videos? 10/01/2007.

Bear works on his spelling, communication, and diet all at once. (Normally he prefers to eat canned salmon; I was trying to get him to eat more fruit. I assume he was giving in and not threatening our family.) 02/04/2008.

Whenever I start thinking I accomplish these things through my own merit, though, I think on my more memorable failures. Like the entire year I spent teaching early-morning seminary. Let's just say it was very...humbling to realize that my seventeen-year-old students were not at all impressed.

Besides, as much as I'd love to take credit for my amazing children, I have to admit that it's not about me. "How did you teach Eric to read so young?" people ask me. I have to say, honestly, "He taught himself. I just facilitated a bit." God blessed me with wonderful kids! It's just my job to help nurture their divine potential.


Gregory said...

As a professional in the payment card industry I must applaud your stand of not sharing your authentication data. As for home schooling, you and Cheryl (and your mom) have created at home a pervasive learning atmosphere. Knowledge is revered and Intelligence valued. This more than anything contributes to the success of the children scholastically.

Gail said...


Gawrsh, thanks, Greg.

We do definitely value education in our family. And not just "good grades," though that's part of it.

Carrie said...

I'm impressed. I think you have the funnest ideas as a parent! Your children, though not technically homeschooled, are rather precocious. I hope you have resigned yourself to the fact that they're going to be considered a little bit eccentric for several years -- possibly until they get to high school and make nerdy friends.

Gregory said...

One more thing, I enjoyed middle school. I cannot claim to have ever had a 'miserable' year in school. Sure, there were occasional upsets and not-so-fun moments but in all, the years turned out fine. Conversely, I cannot claim to have had any truly wonderful years either.

Anonymous said...


If the homeschool question comes from an LDS friend, you could reply that the Lord wants every home to be a "house of learning." See D&C 88:119.

Eric and Danny are getting the best of home school, private pre-school, and public school. They'll be ready for anything.