This afternoon, we’re making it official. We’re filing papers to become homeschoolers.
Partial homeschoolers. My son wanted to keep his first-period math class, which he loves. Every morning, he will go to his most regulating class—taught by a very structured, unflappable teacher who loves math and loves middle-schoolers.
And then he will come home.
And we will homeschool.
It’s mostly for concussion recovery. The lights, the noise, the screens all trigger a recurrence of symptoms.
But I’m imagining other kinds of healing that can happen if my son is home.
For far too many kids, school simply isn’t a safe place—and he’s one of those kids. School makes him feel stupid, bad, deeply ashamed. Every day he comes home, and we spend hours putting him back together from the stresses and abuses of the day—just so he can go back the next day and do it all over again.
I always wanted to homeschool but never thought we’d be able to. It wasn’t feasible for a host of reasons. My work schedule. My son’s unwillingness.
But here we are. It was even my son’s idea to homeschool!
I threw myself into research mode and discovered many homeschool systems that appeal to me and my interests. (A classical education in Latin and Greek anyone?)
But I know what my son needs.
This is going to be hard for me. I like schedules and projects and goals and systems. But what I’d like most of all is for my son to find joy and wonder and pleasure in learning. I would like for him to feel curious again. I would like for him to develop interests and have the space to pursue them.
This is what we did with our first afternoon of unschooling.
We drove out to the lake and took photos of a bald eagle sitting at the top of a tree.
He played chess with his dad.
He sanded a bowl he made from modeling clay.
We looked up photos of Alcatraz Island. We’re reading Al Capone Does My Shirts, and I’ve been meaning to show him pictures. We watched a video about the prison, then read an article about Al Capone, and looked up photos of Machine Gun Kelly and famous prison escapee Roy Gardner.
Then we looked at photos of the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombardi Street and wondered if we should take a vacation to San Francisco.
He asked if we could look at pictures of unicycles, and I said yes.
He asked if we could look at pictures of dirt bikes, and I said yes.
I like this, he said. Is every day going to be like this?
And I said yes.