Monday, September 22, 2014

learning life skills

"You are homeschooling? You must be so organized."
"What do you do to make sure that they hit all the milestones and reach the standards?"

If homeschooling was all about academics and making sure that they are doing just as the school kids are doing, then I would really have to worry. No, I am not so organized. I juggle a lot of logistics, but I am ridiculously flexible, go-with-the-flow-or-become-insane person nowadays. In our state, we have to take standardized tests only once every three years, and I have no desire to test my kids against some outside standards more frequently.

Homeschooling is about so much more.

"Why is he kicking lawn chairs?"
"He is angry and upset."
"Can I show him how to burn his anger?"
"Yes, but he needs to express it on paper first."
He goes out with a piece of paper, a lighter, and an aluminum pan. I taught the older one about literally burring his anger up, and he did it, twice, with very calming results. The younger one will not write out his anger, will not draw it. That's why I did not suggest it to him, thinking it would not be effective. I watch as the older one explains to his brother his proposition. I see younger one furiously slashing at a paper with a pencil, his hand jerking back and forth. They rip it into shreds, then place them one by one into a pan, where the flames lick them up. Their younger brother brings a dry leaf, they laugh and stick it in.

Then they come into the house for some vinegar. 8 yo is excitedly telling my how they carved an angry 8 yo out of chalk and now they will dissolve him. (I taught them this week in geology how chalk is limestone, and how caves are dissolved cavities in limestone. It was my suggestion to drip some vinegar onto chalk, and that knowledge came in handy.) They run outside, in high spirits.
10 yo made "Happy Rosh HaShana!" in Minecraft using stone blocks. 4 yo taught herself how to spell simple words like "zoo", "cat" and "dog".
10 has been coming to me lately, frustrated that his younger brother has a significantly larger amount of allowance than he does. I have not been censoring what the kids spend their money on, but his biggest hit was a dental bill at the beginning of the summer. After having a second tooth pulled due to poor brushing habits, I put my foot down and said that when that bill comes in, 10 yo will be responsible. He gulped, but he did pay it up. Of course, by now he does not remember what else he spent his money on, just that his brother is way ahead.

10 yo kept asking about what kind of jobs he can do to earn money. The problem with being a bit spacey is that every responsibility that I assign him tends to be half-done, or abandoned in the middle, hence, he does not get the payout. I was getting frustrated with all the creativity that was required of me, and lack of effort on his part, so, in the middle of Yom Tov cooking, I suggested that he do some research to see what jobs would be appropriate for a kid his age.

Half an hour later, he came back, saying that he has some leads, and that he found some things that appeal to him: a worm farm, a lizard farm, aising minnows, and taking selfies to sell to companies for advertisement "although, Mom, I don't think I will be doing that". I asked, how does one make money on a worm farm. He said that you sell the worms to fishermen, or to gardeners. I asked him whether he knows anyone in need of worms, and he said that he is not sure.

He also looked up rates for lawn mowing, leaf raking and snow shoveling. Where we live, the snow shoveling is pretty much out of question, but de-icing driveways is a real possibility. He also said that if, in addition to shoveling snow, one brings rock salt, one can charge extra for that.

He also came up with the idea of selling baked goods. That one would be fine, except that I am not so sure how it would work, kashrut-wise. I also said that people are more likely to buy baked goods as a fundraiser than as a money-making venture. He said that he can donate 10% to the new shul. By the way, the kids emptied out their tzedakah boxes, counted the money, and designated its destination.

As Team Yardo left to rake our lawn, I slowly exhaled. There might be a worm farm in our future...
What I do know, homeschooling is directly responsible for all this freedom to think and to act, and to develop skills which are important out there in the real world.


  1. Critical thinking skills...I wish I knew how to run a study well enough and had the funding/backing and support. I want to know how Homeschooling/public/private schooling effect critical thinking skills. I learned of a phenomena called Social Constructionism and I want to know how it effects homeschoolers compared to their peers.