This was originally posted on November 28, 2005.
I thought about it. Really I did. My friend Tracy homeschools her children, and does it brilliantly. One full wall of her living room is covered with books, organized by subject, full of projects and facts and kid-friendly stories. I visit her home in the summer when they're technically not having school, and I'll find the kids playing with really cool geometric block games that are clearly teaching them all kinds of stuff without them even knowing it. Her oldest two children learned to read early and well, and her daughter explained fractions to me at an age when most little girls are focused primarily on whether Barbie needs a new ponytail holder or (heaven forbid and don't let Mommy catch you) just a haircut.
I thought, "How hard can that be?" It looked easy. I'd buy some of those cool books, the ones with interesting covers in primary colors and science experiments you can make with things out of your pantry, and maybe some of those geometric blocks, and we'd be off! Right?
Hmmm. Not quite. It turns out that the patience of a saint is also required. I put Mary into pre-school the year I had Peter, partly to "socialize her", but mostly so I could spend a couple of mornings a week with the baby without having to answer questions for three hours straight. (And if you think I'm exaggerating, I'll pay you $5 an hour to babysit this Friday night just so you can find out.) It wasn't real school, just a little fun thing before the real business of homeschooling began.
One month. That was all it took to realize that Mary and I were not an ideal homeschooling match. Part of it was that I was tired from having an enormous toddler who didn't want to be put down for more than about a minute at a time. Part of it was that I was starting to realize that Tracy's apparent ease with homeschooling was actually the product of careful planning and a gift for communicating with young children. But mostly, it boiled down to this: I am essentially an introvert. Mary is so extroverted that I'd think she'd been switched at birth if she didn't look exactly like me. And if she didn't go to school pretty damn soon, I was going to go around the bend.
So she went to kindergarten, I stayed home, she got even more socialized, and I stayed sane. It was a good choice. She can read now, it turns out that she fully inherited her dad's ability in math, and she gets lots of people to talk to All Day Long. Every once in a while I feel the pang of defeat for not being up to the task I'd dreamed of. However, we do get the occasional shot at homeschooling, and it's just enough to make me realize that we made the right call with her education.
Mary had a long weekend at home over the Thanksgiving holiday, and we covered every subject.
English: "Butt" is indeed a synonym for "bottom". It is, however, not one that we use at our house when we are under the age of thirty.
Math: One pancake plus one pancake plus one pancake plus one pancake equals four pancakes.
Health: Four pancakes is one too many.
History: If it wasn't OK to pour water out of the bath onto the linoleum last year, and it wasn't OK to do it in July, and it wasn't OK to do it last week, it probably still isn't OK tonight.
Economics: If you swallow that penny, I'm not giving you another one.
Science: Just because the sun's out, it doesn't mean it's summer, and Mommy is NOT going to let you go outside and play with the hose no matter how many times you ask.
Physics: If you lie on the couch directly under your brother's kicking feet, the arc of his moving legs will intersect with your head.
Music: Banging on a piano with both hands is called dissonance, and (like much of the music from the time period favoring this tonality) it drives Mommy nuts.
All things considered, tuition's a small price to pay for sanity.