Last week, I got to attend the NCHE Thrive Homeschool Conference. If you have the chance to attend a homeschool conference, you should totally take it. Being immersed in all things homeschooling with others who speak the language of homeschooling can be an amazing boost in morale and encouragement to keep going.
I’ve been homeschooling for about twelve years. I have written many a blog post, had tons of conversations to encourage others, and even spoken at parent meeting and at the Thrive conference! I would like to think I am a fairly confident homeschooler… assured in my choices and philosophy of homeschooling. I have done talks and written articles about my belief in unschooling or delight directed learning. I tell people all the time that they are not going to screw up their children if they abandon curriculum and let their children follow their interests.
Inevitably, I will go to a talk at a conference that sends me into a tailspin and causes me to question all my life choices.
It is always a talk that has something to do with the topic of Classical Literature or Classical Education.
I don’t know why I keep going to these talks.
I did it again when I went to the Thrive conference just a couple of weeks ago. I had some time before my “Getting Started with Preschool” talk and thought.. why not… I’ll sit in and listen to this speaker. I had heard good things about him and the topic was of interest… “Designing Your Own Lit Program.”
As I sat and listened to the speaker, the familiar guilt crept up on me. As I listened to him talk about the classics as if they were his best friend, I was transported back to high school where I absolutely hated Pride and Prejudice and the Illiad and The Great Gatsby… and so many others. I never understood them. I knew something wasn’t right with how I read and the lack of comprehension I had… but no one ever helped me slow down and figure out that I was possibly dyslexic or had some other processing issue… and as a result, I grew to hate the classics. I mean…. loathe them. I feel like the ultimate homeschool mom imposter because not only can I not keep up with a conversation about those “beloved” classics… I actually could not care less.
But I feel guilty… like somehow I will hold my children back from suceeding in this world because I have not required them to read MacBeth or well… I don’t even know what else I have not required them to read… Three Musketeers, maybe?
I left from the talk feeling a mix of inspiration and shame… knowing that maybe I COULD introduce the classics. Maybe I too could have this friendship this man has with these books. But really knowing that I won’t. My friends are Aslan and the Pevensie kids. My friends are Bruchko and some vegetable gardners and Laura and Mary Ingalls. I do read… don’t get me wrong… I just don’t read the classics. But what is a classic, really?
From that talk, I promptly went into another one that was about all the reasons we rob our children of the love of learning by “schoolify-ing” everything. Oh man… it was refreshing! Here I am… thinking I’ve ruined my children and wasted my window of time with them. But I haven’t. I haven’t wasted the time. God knew exactly who he was giving these children to. He knew that I never made it through A Tale of Two Cities. He knew exactly what would come of homeschooling in our household. He knew I wasn’t going to be best friends with the classics or have a flowery, deep vocabulary. I may surprise people every now and then with a big word… but mostly I just tell it as it is.
I headed down to the vendor hall and happened to come upon the 2nd speaker’s booth… the speaker who gave freedom to just live and not have to turn everything into a lesson. One of his daughter’s had written a fantasy series set in the middle ages. I purchased it and asked the girl who rang me up if she had written the books… she said, “Oh no… I don’t like to read.” Are you even allowed to say that at a homeschool conference??? I found out that in their family, they also have one that doesn’t like math and didn’t go past Algebra in high school… what?!?! Can you even do that?
Anyway… I just feel the need to confess that I am not the kind of homeschool mom who gathers my little chicks to me and reads the classics aloud. I do not require my high schoolers to read them either. I also am not the kind of homeschool mom who sees a dead jellyfish on the beach and dissects it. Or the kind of homeschool mom who plays classical music and limits screen time and studies nature and art at length.
Is their value in those things?… yes… for sure.
Am I ruining my children because I am not requiring those things?… maybe… but I doubt it.
I’m the kind of homeschool mom who celebrates chocolate icecream day. Who takes my children to the library and lets them check out whatever they want (within reason). Who teaches my kids to play chess and pool and ping pong and Exploding Kittens. I garden and go for walks and listen to Disney music when I clean. I’m the kind of homeschool mom who organizes a craft market so you can sell your candles and earrings and chapstick. I’m the kind of homeschool mom who buys you the graphic novel of MacBeth and Little Women and The Odyssey… so you can still know the story without having to read the actual book.