It is bedtime, the day before the start of the school year. Two of our kids are abed. The soon-to-be 5th grader is trying to settle down, even though she’s so excited about school that she will toss and turn most of the night. Her new clothes are laid out with precision by her bureau, her backpack waits by the door. The pre-kindergartener is already asleep. You can barely see the outline of his little form, lost among the pillows and the dozen stuffed animals who accompany him to dreamland.
The oldest, however, keeps bouncing guiltily into the living room, and then sulking away when I look up from my book and give her my patented mommy stink eye.
She’s supposed to be in bed. But, unlike all the other school nights that preceded this one, I’m not enforcing bedtime very stridently this time. I’m kinda enjoying watching her struggle with this concept. She knows that the early morning school alarms aren’t for her. Homeschooling starts tomorrow.
Finally, she flits into the room and sits down beside me, her eyebrows furrowed.
“I can’t sleep.”
I put my book away.
“So,” she says, sweeping her hair out of her eyes to glance at me sideways. “How is this homeschooling thing going to work, because, well… you’re my mom?”
“Well, for comparison’s sake, how does the dynamic with your teacher usually work in the classroom?”
She thinks for a minute. “We sit there in our seats, and our teacher is like… the sun. She (or he) shines the information onto us, and we are like plants, soaking it in.”
“Good analogy. And you are expected to be rooted there, in your seats, right?”
“And be nice and still, like good little plants?”
“Well, for one thing, you’re going to take a much bigger role in your learning. Because you are about finished with being a passive recipient of information, right?”
She nods, uncertainly
“So then. How would you like us to work, in our homeschool?”
She blurts out, with barely a pause, “Can I.. have breaks? Can I eat? Can I play music while learning? Can I learn JAVA programming? Can I homeschool in my pajamas?”
I’m nodding the whole time, smiling at her.
She continues, a little breathlessly. “And, I mean, what if I answer your questions with sarcasm? I can’t do THAT in school. Will that be OK?”
“You know our family. Sarcasm is definitely, without a doubt, forbidden.”
I think we’re going to have a wonderful year.