Homeschooling is so odd when it comes to a few things – dress code, extra-curricular activities, and scheduling to name a few. I guess odd isn’t the right word. Maybe ‘flexible’ is better. School sports, fun lunch breaks and main art events are aspects that home cannot offer, which I feel are crucial in the growing days.
Dress Code – really, do people think we do school in our pajamas? My kids are asked that all the time, usually in a jealous tone. Sorry, but no, we don’t stay in our pjs all day. Although on really grey, gloomy days, we’ve been known to snuggle on the couch with hot cocoa during our history lessons.
Or go to the beach.
One of my friends actually bought school uniforms for her children during one of their homeschooling years.
“It did simplify things,” she says with a shrug, “but it didn’t last long.”
Probably went back to pjs.
Extra-Curricular Activities – again, this is a very curious aspect of homeschooling. And one we’re occasionally still confronted with. As in, “Your poor kids, they must be so sad to be home all day without anything to do but school work.”
Sigh. Sometimes I think homeschoolers WISH they could actually be home more. Instead our time is often filled with:
1) Sports – our family has participated in swim team, wrestling and cross-country over the years
2) Homeschool specific activities – PE classes, drama programs, science and computer clubs
3) Weekly homeschool co-op – where the kids have the opportunity to take classes on DOZENS of topics including art, music, science, cooking, dissection, theater, foreign language, history, crafts and more
4) Ministry opportunities – helping with the local food bank, babysitting young children for church functions, AWANA, service projects
5) Work – lawn mowing jobs, watering job, pet sitting and walking, babysitting, cleaning
6) Programs in the local high school – JROTC for all three of our boys
Again, the opportunities are as many and as varied as there are families who homeschool. If we wanted to focus heavily on sports, we could. If we wanted to be involved in the local theater playhouse, we could. If we wanted to go deep into academics and eschew the “fluff,” we could. If were were a musical family, that could be our focus.
Or not. Or something totally different.
Unique, varied, flexible.
Which brings me to our “Second First Week of School.” Washington state grants a great deal of flexibility to homeschooling parents. We have only a few requirements that govern our homeschool. There are 5 basic statutes to follow: meet the teacher qualification, file a notice of intent, teach for the required number of days, teach the required subjects, and conduct an annual assessment.
Since many of our close friends are in private or public schools, over the past few years we have decided (or rather, I decided) to keep our schedule on nearly the same track as our district school. Meaning, we take our spring break when they do, start and end around the same time.
Again, this is only a guide line as we have some things in our schooling that make us unique.
This year David is taking JROTC at one of the high schools in the area. All last week he was in orientation from 8 am to 2 pm. Some of his public school friends started school at the same time, some of his homeschool friends had started the week before, some hadn’t started at all. Our online classes (where we take math, English and foreign language) don’t start until NEXT week. Last week was a “soft school start.”
Sarah did health, reading, IXL math drills, and Bible while David was at JROTC orientation. David did reading, IXL and Bible when he came home. That was our Week One School Start.
This week David began the regular JROTC class (one period, at the high school). We added in history and our Bible devotions (reading together), and David began his health and science books.
Not to mention AWANA, small groups and my women’s mentoring program.
So, when I see all the sweet First Day of School pictures posted on Facebook, and I look at our calendar, I feel just a wee bit conflicted. Do I take a picture the morning David went to the first day of JROTC orientation? Or when the online classes begin? Or the first day of homeschool co-op?
And who takes a picture of my three college kids who started in August?
It’s enough to make me either a little crazy or incredibly thankful for the unique flexibility of homeschooling.
I think I’ll stick with thankful.
And then I’ll make sure the kids actually did change out of their pjs.
Project 365 – Day 252