After a lot of hand-wringing, phone calls, e-mails and just things falling all over the place. I signed up 12 yo for online school for Judaics. He is in 7th grade, where he is supposed to be age-wise. He specifically asked for learning with other kids as opposed to one-on-one, but he did not want to go to school. The program is four days a week for two hours each day, and it is fully interactive: he gets to see the teacher and other students, learn bechavruta, ask and answer questions in real time, get assignments and chat with others. The catch is that it is from 11 to 1, smack dab in the middle of the day.
Here is the funny part: the administration originally did not want him in this class because he had no formal gemara learning. First I agreed with them, then we realized that the other level is too low for him, so I insisted that he attend this class with his peers. In the back of my mind was an ongoing buzz of what am I going to do with a child who will be handicapped by a lack of gemara skills? Will this approach of not pushing and introducing gemara haunt us? Now in his class, during the second week I got an email from the teacher that he is planning on having my son and his chavruta do a separate assignment since his gemara skills are on a higher level than the rest of the class. I giggled: how can a child who spent maybe six hours formally studying gemara have more advanced skills than the boys who have been studying it for the past two years? Perhaps all the hours he spent poring over Koren Bavli in shul paid off. Perhaps he is naturally brilliant. Perhaps he can pull a fast one on the teacher.
Perhaps our laid-back approach (not quite unschooling) is not so full of glaring educational holes.