School’s Out

Year 1 of the Great Homeschool Experiment is essentially finished in the Lucas household. That’s one of the benefits of homeschooling: you don’t have to stick to the school calendar that keeps kids squirming in their seats until summer.

I’d call it a great success. Xander enjoyed it and so did Shawna… plus Oscar is learning lots by osmosis. At four he’s hit that stage where he’s starting to surprise us with some of the things he comes up with. He’s excited by the idea of “doing school” too, which is always a good sign.

Xander is becoming an avid reader. It still startles me sometimes; he’ll peek over my shoulder when I’m reading the paper online or surfing the web and ask a question, and I’ll stop and think “oh yeah, I forget he can read so well!” Three mornings ago he polished off two books before breakfast. It actually threw me for a loop—the other kids were still sleeping, Xander was reading, and the house was so quiet while I ate breakfast that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’ve become so accustomed to chaos that eating in silence felt weird. Fortunately Gideon woke up and started yelling “MAAAA-MA! DAAAA-DA!” in the baby monitor, and everything went back to normal.

But math and science are Xander’s real loves, which doesn’t really surprise me—this is a kid who builds plumbing systems in his gingerbread houses, after all. Something clicked when it came to numbers midway through the year, and now he just gets it. The other day he asked me the difference between even and odd numbers, and the first explanation that popped into my head is that you can split even numbers into two equal parts.

He thought about this for a second. “Oh, so 10 would be even because it’s 5 and 5, right?  But not 9, because it’s 5 and 4.” Just like that, it made perfect sense to him.

OK, I’ll stop bragging about my little genius now. But the truest sign that homeschooling was a success is that he really loves learning and discovering. He’s every bit as curious as he was a year ago, if not more so. He’s learned a lot in the technical, school-talk sense—“outcomes”, as they currently say in our education system—but he’s also had the freedom to discover things he really likes. And to be creative.

He and Shawna are working on one last project… well, two, if you count the jar on the deck full of eggs that may be either bullfrogs or salamanders, we’re not sure which yet. But they’re also putting together a storybook. Xander made up the plot: it’s about a group of puppies who undergo secret training to stop cats from taking over the world. (OK, it’s kind of derivative of a certain movie from a few years ago, but hey, he’s six. We haven’t had the plagiarism talk yet.)

They’re illustrating it with photos of Xander’s stuffed animals. Here’s a sneak peek:

Saving the world from feline evil!

So as long as everyone’s still having fun, we’re planning to stick with homeschooling. We’ll take it year by year, but right now it’s working out great for our family.

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3 responses to “School’s Out

  1. What a wonderful experience for you all. I’m also sure that like most Moms, Shawna has learned almost as much through her teaching experiences! Bless you all!

  2. I totally get wanting to brag about your ‘little genius’. Maybe all parents think their children are exceptionally bright, but it’s so hard sometimes to not go around telling everyone what new feat your prodigy just accomplished! My son is in grade three and just finished the Harry Potter series. I want to tell everyone and have to hold back. 😉 Congratulations to your new little reader, it’s a feat to be celebrated.

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