Why Homeschool

by Susan .

Here is an excerpt from a journal that I keep that I feel captures what makes home schooling so satisfying.

June 24, 2002
Today was very peaceful. My son's usual low threshold for boredom was not as apparent as usual, but at one point he came to me very agitated. He could not find a pair of swimming goggles that his friend had lent to him and his friend and he were getting ready to swim. I could clearly feel the tension as he expected me to materialize them out of thin air, but my concentration is getting stronger and I was able to remain in the present moment. I suggested that he sit quietly for a moment and remember the last place he saw them. He looked at me and rolled his eyes,
I slept too much yesterday...I can't sit still.

I felt that what he was really saying was "that mindfulness stuff" would not work. I said, " this isn't about resting. The mind is agitated and when it is, it is very easy to miss an obvious thing. You could have passed right over them but you didn't see them because your mind was worrying about finding them. If you sit still and let your anxiety go you'll be more open to information you might be missing."

He fiddled with the strap of the other pair of goggles in his hand and I got up to attend to something. Three minutes later I heard him exclaim, "I found them." They were in a place he had already looked but now, with his mind calm, his seeing was clear. I felt very happy. Earlier this morning when we did our morning ceremony it was time for our three minute meditation. My son did not want to participate. This situation is perfect for bringing up all my conditioned responses: pleading, shaming, threatening, and anger but my spouse and I just sat their for a moment. I think we were both at a loss. I said, "Please come and sit, Dad has to get off to work." Reluctantly he slid off of the couch like a slug, he plopped his pillow down in disgust and squirmed around while we were trying to be aware of our breathing. Very calmly I said, "the sign of a quiet mind is a quiet body. This is our practice. This is the way we train our minds to be our good servants." He quickly settled down and for one full minute he was still. This is amazing to me. Where do these timely words come from? I can remember a time when I would have really let my son have it. I would have blamed him for ruining something good and lovely I was trying to create. This is my conditioning. Also known as habit energy. I no longer have a taste for creating suffering and when these things well up in me I do whatever practice it takes not to act on them. This is how this practice has transformed me. Morning ceremony- inspirational reading drawn from a variety of sources, meditation, ( now up to 6 minutes), and sharing. This has evolved from periodic readings from Steven Covey's "Seven Habits Of Highly Effective Families."

When my son was still in school these interactions would have been very different. I might have said something like, "they're your goggles -- you find them." as I was trying to juggle a myriad of responsibilities some real some not necessary. I would have been so agitated as I thought about all the times I told him to pick up his stuff. The thing I disliked the most about school, private or public, was the homework. I felt like it really intruded on family time. I didn't see the reason for more work after a day of work. I didn't see why my son's success in school depended on whether I taught him at home after school during our family time. This seemed very intrusive to me. I don't miss the fund raisers (where parents raised the money but did not have a voice in how it would be allocated), the dropping off and picking up, and the incredible amounts of junk food my son was encouraged to consume as a fund raiser for the school.

What I did love and find surprising about home school was sitting in a theater on a Monday morning at 10:00 am watching a family film selection from the Honolulu Film Festival. The film was from Germany, it was charming, and it was about a moral dilemma faced by some children. We placed our ballots in a cardboard box as we left hoping that this film might win a prize. When we came home we created a themed lesson including, skillful behavior, geography, math, and art. Now that is satisfying!

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