Home Schooling Opens Up a Book of Challenges

Posted on: Saturday, December 20th, 2008
Posted in: Work/Life Hacking, Blog | Leave a comment

One of the Missions of this Sabbatical is to try home schooling. All parents dabble in it, but now’s the time to put up or shut up. Perform. Leave no child behind. Show proof of one my oft-stated boasts: A kid will learn much more on a trip like this than in the classroom.

Although there are endless educational possibilities, my to-do list distills down to 5 simple activities: Math; Reading; Writing; Photography; Music.

For a change, the Idea here is to present the tools, then get out of the way. So far, so good. School is on holiday break at home, but we’re definitely logging daily learning here.

  • Math…We’ll finish two month’s worth, then shop around next year’s worksheets.
  • Reading…He’s sucked up two vampire books. Now on to local lore.
  • Writing…His blog is up and running before mine: http://breakawaykid.wordpress.com/
  • Photography…While not a master of his camera, things are starting to click.
  • Music…The Martin mini-guitar arrives soon; he’ll finish his string bass book first, then improvise. (The bottom four strings are the same tuning, but you knew that.)

Oh sure, he’d rather be e-chatting (OMG!) or fondling his iTouch. We need the digi-sitters and downtime, so, fine already, but not more than, say, 16 hours a day.

One major challenge: The sports thing. He is, of course, a Star Athlete. (Aren’t all kids these days, but—really!—mine is!) Thus the 6A Traveling Team will play five tournaments without him. Yet we schlepped a pump and basketball which we diligently inflate and deflate every time we move along.

So what’s foul? Coral Bay courts. Sorry, but they’re pathetic. Blame vandalism. Blame the shrinking youth population. Blame cutbacks or plain old neglect. But when the rims are bent, the backboards are rotten, the hoops are holey, and the blacktop is cracked and muddy, it’s hard to get in the game. There is no game.

Order on the court:  Can't do phy ed here!

Can't do P.E. here!

(Last night at the local choir’s concert, I saw an AMAZING 17-year-old trumpet player. Somebody is mentoring him to excellence! What will happen to the native young basketball phenoms if there’s nowhere to play?)

For our P.E. class, one Mission is improving his shooting percentage and taking thousands of free throws. Now it’s Mission Impossible. That’s all I wanted: To shoot around and shoot some more. No coaches yelling. No criticism. No pressure. Just old-school shootin’ around til the confidence swishes.

Maybe on the next island? But I doubt it. When scratching beneath the surface, one quickly finds scores of sorry signs of poverty and scarcity in the Caribbean.

Oh well, we still have baseball. I even cut a string the exact distance of mound to plate—to work on pitching. That can happen any place there’s flat space, though that’s also rather rare in these parts. Problem is, he throws so hard now it bruises up my hand. And that knuckleball? When it drops and bounces into the crotch…ouch!

But there’s more to life than sports. That’s why we’re here. You can sweat in smelly gyms every winter. But you can learn about tropical flora, fauna, and culture only now and then.

Retiring Now and Then does NOT mean doing nothing. We’ll see what AllBoy can learn about self-motivation and self-education. And if his parents are up to the test.

Next experiment: Educating CurlyGirl.

PS Being miles away and taking all this on brings on deep gratitude to the many good people back home who helped make Home Schooling happen: Mrs. S, Mrs. B, Mrs. F—and also the passionate coaches through the years, all winners: You know who you are!

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