Monday, July 23, 2012

Better Than School

Home schooling has become such a common, legally accepted method of education that it was easy for us to decide to home school, find curricula, access support systems, etc.  I just read a book about a home schooling family in the late 1970's who had to struggle with the "authorities" to have the right to home school, as well as how they would do it.
Nancy Wallace has written the story of her family's experience in Better Than School.  Although I have, so far, experienced no conflict or judgment from "authorities," I still found this book interesting.  Pioneer homeschoolers, based on my limited reading about them, seem to me to be very motivated and avidly independent.  They tend to have very strong opinions about home schooling their children.  Some of what I gleaned from this book:

- The author worried about not keeping up with chores around the house.  I have this concern too.  I think I expect to much from myself, which causes me to disappoint myself regularly.
- Her son, when he was learning to read, had problems with "stamina" because at that stage reading was a very difficult task for him.  I often forget that Catherine's skills and abilities are significantly lesser than mine.  She is a rising second grader.  It is still work for her to read even basic books. Until I read this section, I never thought that it may actually tire Catherine to read.  I remember when I was in law school how exhausted I would get with new material, challenging concepts, and loads of reading and writing assignments.  Catherine can experience that same exhaustion when reading beginner readers. I need to remember this and have more sympathy for her.
- The author describes her son's reaction to being given a worksheet of math problems: yawn, go sharpen his pencil, scratch imaginary lice in his head, and actually seem to forget that he has been given a worksheet.  I love this description!  I have witnessed a similar reaction from Catherine too.  I call it "let the excuses begin."  It is comforting to know that my child is not unique in her distaste of certain assignments.

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