Sometimes people ask how my homeschooled kids feel about missing out on the stuff they remember as being fun from school. I never quite know what to tell them. I don’t remember much about school as particularly fun.
But a few things, I do remember enjoying a lot. Mostly the days when we didn’t do “school” at all. One thing I always enjoyed was Valentine’s Day, because it was silly and fun, there was a lot of sugar involved, and we got to make our little mailboxes for our valentines. Unlike the story lines in books or TV shows, everyone always got as many Valentines as everyone else, and nobody took their sentiments of adoration too seriously.
Many people have an image of “homeschool” as being “school at home,” with the kids in little desks and mom as the teacher, everyone locked in these positions for seven hours a day. That couldn’t be further from the truth for most families. For ours, we have constant playdates, outings, classes, adventures. One of our favorite weekly events is “Funschool,” a loose cooperative that meets for LEGOs, playground antics, and fort-building.
Sometimes people bring a craft or a new pet.
Sometimes we arrange actual things, like a sale where the kids hawk their random items to each other for a few quarters, or “no-stress holiday parties,” where families can bring a treat or a craft if they want to, but if not, no biggie.
We usually do a Valentine’s exchange. The first year we were there, my kids said they didn’t want to participate, and then they were sad when everyone else had Valentines and they didn’t. Sam shared some of his with them, and they still talk about how sweet that was. The next year, they better understood what it was, and they were all in.
We like to do something a little unusual for Valentines, something more creative than the standard cartoon characters from a box. This year, Silas used some left over hong bao from Chinese New Year (“I drew angry eyebrows on all of the piggies!” “Why?” ::shrug::).
Petra’s were delightful and hilarious. She decided to put googly eyes on clementines and give them faces and hair. We couldn’t stop laughing at them. Everyone at Funschool knows her well, and they said, “That’s true love, for Petra to share her clementines!”
I’m grateful for Funschool because we get to know these other families, and the kids learn interaction skills they might not really get at school. Some of the kids have autism or other neurological variances, and I’m glad that my kids, Silas especially, are asking good questions about interacting with them and trying to find ways to do it better. It’s not like, “That kid is weird and I don’t want to play with him,” but “That kid is different and I want to know how to play with him.”
They are learning to work through stuff together, too. It’s been a process, and at times, the adults have despaired of whether they would ever Get It. But recently, Silas had a fight with Max about who even knows what, and Max sent him an apology via text. Silas responded with this:
The world may never know what this means, but I’m glad they worked through their problem.
The kids all adore each other and give constant hugs and high fives. Sometimes they wrestle or knock each other around or get out of hand, but they have time and space to figure it out together.
And we get to do fun events sometimes. Here are pictures from our Easter Egg Hunt that I never got around to posting last spring (I was kind of busy):