Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homeschool and health

For quite awhile now, we've had a stressor in our midst that we didn't even recognize. Its source was the interaction between TH and school. Without even knowing, it guided our mood, governed our days, set our rhythm to cranky. How do we know that this interaction was to blame?

Because when we started homeschooling, everything around here got better. Relaxation like we've not known since TH started kindergarten. The Viking, whose moods seemed to ebb and flow these past few years, has been in a state of relative euphoria, and I really think it's because we've removed a daily, nagging, permeating anxiety. I'm not that good at analyzing my own emotions, but I'm feeling pretty great myself. And TH? Learning. Learning quite well. A happy camper who informed me excitedly this weekend that homeschool would start again in two days. That is startling for two reasons. First, he's excited about school. Second, he knew what day it was.

It's been a fun 2.9 weeks. We do math. He plays Wii sports. We do spelling, language arts, mechanics, vocabulary. We have lunch. If we so choose, we do these things somewhere besides our home. We walk our town's hike-and-bike trail or go to the botanical gardens for an outdoor break. When something comes up in the course of our studies or conversation that catches our fancy, we google it and learn more about it. Science is a blast. TH hums to his heart's content while finishing up math or writing a spelling word. He's encountered (in the word, not the flesh) John Steinbeck, Chaucer, a rabbi, the concept of considering perspective, how to write a play, how to brainstorm journaling. He's written dialogue and possibly even mastered the measurement of the passage of time. Possibly.

And all of it without worrying about what happened with the other kids that day. All of it without having him come home, half-legible homework assignments in his assignment book, half-intelligible explanation of what exactly we're supposed to do. No lengthy discussions after his bedtime of what the best next step for him should be. No two-hour marathons after 4 pm of trying to get him focused enough to complete homework assignments. No scratches on his face or abrasions of his psyche. No parents pointing an accusatory finger at him, using the word "bully."

My friend, Kristina Chew, blogs frequently about achieving a peaceful, easy feeling with her son, Charlie, and her husband Jim. Now that we've removed what we never recognized as a heavy weight of stress from our backs and minds, I feel like I know what she means. We haven't felt this peaceful and easy as a family since 2006, since the day our youngest child was born and TH began kindergarten.

What does it all mean? I don't know, but I've got a great to-do list for anyone who's wondering. Look around. Where's the stress? Find it, and then figure out what you can do to make it go away. Forget about society's boxes. Do what's right for you, for your family. Peaceful and easy feelings aren't just about relaxing, doing nothing. They're about knowing you've made the right decision, you've done the right thing. And it feels pretty damned good.