Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Home schoolers- Missing out
I have a vivid memory, from my childhood, of sitting on the end of my mom’s bed early on a cold and snowy morning listening to the radio as snow day school closings were announced. I remember listening to the long list waiting to hear my school’s name and when they finally announced that we had the day off being filled with immense joy at the gift of an unexpected day off. The day held so many possibilities. I could climb back into my nice warm bed and sleep another hour or two. I could go down to the kitchen for breakfast in my p.j.’s and enjoy my food slowly with no rush to be anywhere. Or, I could hurry and get dressed and then bundle up in my coat, mittens, hat, and scarf and head out into the frigid but beautiful snow to play with my friends. No classes, no homework, no work, no responsibility. It was wonderful! It makes me sort of sad to think my children will never get a chance to have a snow day. Of course, I realized as I reminisced about my own snow day experiences, that living in Florida sort of ruled out any snow days for my kids anyway.
But then, I thought about field trip days at school. The fun of getting to leave the school for the day and go someplace new with my class. It always seemed so special to be at the zoo, or a museum, or a park when everyone else was at school. It always seemed a little weird to see my teacher outside of school, sometimes wearing jeans and tennis shoes, which back in the 80’s was unusual for teachers. It was fun to be with friends collecting information about leaves or animals or paintings, working together to fill out our worksheets. It was always nice to eat our bagged lunches at a picnic table under a tree with the school bus parked not too far away ready to take us back to school just in time to head for home. Of course, my children do get to go on field trips-- great ones like the zoo or science center or a morning at a local airfield that included sitting in and learning about small airplanes, and less exciting ones like a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up diapers or a chance to accompany me and the baby to a doctor’s appointment for her well child check-up. Potentially educational, for sure, but somehow I don’t think my children appreciate the treat of being out and about while their “regular” school counterparts are sitting at a desk in a stuffy, old classroom. For my children, field trips are just an ordinary part of life.
Another memorable part of my education was the big, yellow school bus. I remember the thrill of finally getting to ride the bus like my older sisters. In kindergarten, riding the bus meant waving good-bye to my mom in front of our house and then climbing up the very high steps as the folding door creaked shut behind me. I’d find my seat and climb up into it while the bus lumbered along to my best friend’s house right up the street. She would get on and join me for the ride. We would talk and look out the window and enjoy the bumping and bouncing along as we rode to school together. As I got older the bus ride was a little less thrilling, though. In seventh grade, there was the obnoxious neighborhood boy who always stuck his foot into the aisle as I got off the bus in the afternoons, tripping me as I walked by. He and his friends would burst into laughter as my face turned red and I fumbled my way off the bus feeling worthless and embarrassed. Seventh grade was a long year and I don’t think he missed one opportunity to trip me and embarrass me the whole year through. So, maybe the bus ride is not such a bad thing to be missed. In fact, if any of the stories I have heard in recent years about bus rides to and from school are true, I would be driving my children to school if they attended anyway.
I guess all of my memories of life as a public school student are not enough to convince me that my children are missing out on anything really. The chance to learn in their own home, surrounded by their own loving family can not really compare to anything “regular” school could ever offer. Here they get to pursue their interests to the fullest. They get to do their work at their own pace. They get to be helped by their older siblings and be a help to their younger siblings. And, they get to go to Wal-Mart a couple times a week. Not a bad way to be educated if you ask me.
I am linking this post to Wednesday's Walk at http://the-goodwinfamily.blogspot.com/