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Homeschooling by Accident

Today my family has big plans.  Hubs and I are going to sit down with the boy and bang out a fifteen minute oral research project about the History of Video Games.  This is a research project that he was assigned no less than four months ago.  It was a topic that he chose.  In fact, I had to go to bat for him with his teacher to allow this topic, and promise to buy the research materials myself.  I did it because I thought maybe, just maybe, if he had a topic in which he has a real and true interest then maybe he would thrive.

I am a naive woman sometimes.

This kid hates research of any kind.  He has the kind of relationship with words that I have with numbers.  Simply writing a paragraph overwhelms him, because he wants it to be right, the first time.  He doesn’t get down with notes, rough drafts or rewrites.  So this often results in him staring off into the wild blue yonder while he is supposed to be doing something.  His teacher called me recently, gravely concerned about the lack of progress he has made and the looming due date of this project.  The boy is stressing all of us.

So, I thought about it, and I made a decision.  I’ll teach him how to write a paper backwards.  He has enough general knowledge of the topic (God knows he does) to know what he wants the final product to be.  So we’ll just start writing, and find the facts and figures as we go.  Sure, it takes a little longer to do it like this, but it’s zero hour.  He doesn’t like taking notes?  Neither do I, and I’m not 100% sure I ever, ever wrote a paper using notes and outlines and stuff.  There is no one “right” way to do things, as long as the end result is good.  So we’ll bang this sucker out with no notes and bring shock and awe to the classroom.

What a way to spend a day off.

What a way to spend a day off.

I find myself doing this a lot…teaching my kids.  I don’t mean to say it like it’s a bad thing, obviously parents should teach their kids.  I just mean that I didn’t expect to teach them, say, algebra.  I didn’t expect to have to teach both of my children the finer points of writing an essay.  I have taught them about multiplication, mnemonic devices and punctuation.  Frankly, I feel like what we’re doing here (gotta include Hubs, because really, I’m not teaching anyone Algebra.  Not if my life depended on it.) goes above and beyond the idea of “helping” our kids with their homework.  We’re damn near homeschooling them.

Why, why, why are we doing this?  Several possibilities come to mind.

  • My kids are weirdos and don’t learn like other kids.  Well, if this is true, then every kid is a weirdo because individuals do not all learn the same way.  I know that schools have ways of addressing this.  Also, I don’t mean to brag, but these kids are smart.  Generally you can explain something one good time and they’ve got it.  So, where’s the disconnect?
  • My kids don’t pay attention in class and prefer to use my precious free time to learn from me.  This is highly likely where one kid is concerned, but virtually impossible with the other one.  I mean, I know how they hate to see me relax and have time to myself, but I’m pretty sure there is at least some level of attentiveness in class.
  • Expectations.  One of my children, who shall remain nameless, has a healthy dose of arrogance confidence in his academic ability.  On more than one occasion, this has led to a reluctance to ask for help or even a teacher not realizing that he (or she.  But it’s he.) needs help.  I mean, once you’ve told everyone that you know everything, they’re not likely to expect you to need help with stuff.
  • It’s not them, it’s me.  This is probably the winner.  I find myself frustrated with the state of education and I worry about what will happen when my kids when they get to high school/college/real life if they don’t learn things now.  And by “learn things,” I mean learn the things that I think they should know.  This might be okay if I didn’t have impossibly high standards, but at least my kids will understand grammar better than three-quarters of the adults I know.  If it kills me, they will know everything there is to know about an apostrophe.
  • I have made enemies.  It’s true, I don’t have a reputation of being easy to get along with in the schools.  I make my opinions known, and I have a lot of opinions.  I have been known to say things in front of my children that I shouldn’t say.  (example: Your teacher is an a-hole.)  disclaimer: most teachers are definitively not a-holes, but the one in question absolutely is and it pains me that he doesn’t seem to know it.  I’m probably fostering some bad attitude here, but, you know me, just keeping it real.

Upon further review, it appears that I’ve brought this on myself.  So, why don’t we just give it up and home school the kids?  Well.  First, and most importantly, we have jobs.  Second, I have a kid who just signed up for Algebra 2 and French 2.  This is stretching my abilities.  And as much as Hubs is willing and able to teach the occasional missed Algebra lesson, I am certain he’s not up for teaching the whole entire subject.  Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you like it.  Third, isn’t this why I pay taxes?  So my kids can get a decent education?  If I’m paying for it, you damn well better believe I’m taking advantage of it.  And then I’m going to complain, start trouble and do it the way I want it done.

It’s the American way, no?

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