Some of those years our kids were in classrooms, and some they were schooled at home -- about half and half. And recently I'm more thankful than before for those years of homeschooling. They created a bond between me and my children. I do think we are closer than if I'd sent them off in a bus or dropped them at school. I'm sure there were failings (many of them) in our homeschooling, and disappointments for the kids. But recently several benefits of those homeschooling years have popped up, and I want to tell you about them.
|Anna, with her students when she taught in China.|
Now she teaches elementary kids in Japan.
As Julia moves away, I like to note what her mind seems to have latched onto. She and Adam talk about math! (Can you imagine? Math?!) She likes math ideas, not "how to solve this equation" talk, but "Dad, what if we did this in math? She has a good math brain, in spite of the fact that we've struggled for years to teach her math. She won't study it in college; I don't expect that. But she enjoys using math thoughts to test her own brain. It's important that she just enjoy some subjects -- that learning be for the pleasure of it. She's branching out into various disciplines in interest, and I see her mind widening before she goes away, instead of narrowing. I hope our homeschooling contributed to this. I took to heart Susan Bauer's advice that each year and each subject was a "handshake" -- a handshake with an author or with an historical figure. It's better to go broad than go deep. They can study more deeply later.
Perhaps the best reminder of our success was at the wedding this past weekend. Peter asked me to read a poem, a sonnet that he'd written. He wrote it for Shani, and he'd worked on it quite hard. He's written a good bit of poetry. (My son! A poet!) I told him it was lovely and well-written. He read it to her at the reception before they cut the cake. It was a magical moment. I asked him about it. He said it's because we had so many books around the house, we were always reading. The books sank in. The sonnet studies I did with them sank it. Somehow, miraculously, a love of poetry reached into one child, and a love of math delved into another, and a love of teaching English consumed another.
I am enjoying this moment. Homeschooling produced many tears and regrets, many doubts about myself and my choices. It's nice at last to see we did something right in all those years.