How to talk to your child about home-schooling

Reva sits down with her son to find out what he really thinks about home-schooling.

Reva's son, Seth, heads off to school.

The first person I ever met who had been home-schooled was the youngest guy in my year at law school. He was the oldest of five or maybe six kids and grew up on a farm. I’m pretty sure it was a goat farm.

I was fascinated — mostly because it was essentially the complete opposite of my academic life/childhood and because there was something slightly pioneer about the way he described it (and I’ve never fully gotten over my eight-year-old pioneer phase).

He claimed he liked being home-schooled but I never believed him.

After reviewing comments left on home-schooling blogs and articles, I noticed a common frame for the discussion is the assumption that kids don’t really like home-schooling or if they say they do, it’s just that they don’t know any better.

Most of these comments also reference how home-schoolers are not being properly socialized or prepared for the real world — both fair points and topics for another blog post.

All of which is to say, I don’t find it at all surprising that one of the most common questions I receive is how my six-year-old son, Seth, feels about our education plan for next year (yes, his first name is my last name — which is whole different story and can be hell at airports and hospitals).

I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure what he thinks of the plan — his responses seem to change from day to day.

For the past few months on our morning walk to school, I’ve told him about the idea and had short conversations on what we can do, what he thinks about it and anything he’s nervous or worried about. Although he seems to listen and respond, he usually tries to quickly turn the conversation back to his views on Boba Fett and General Grievous.

So I decided to ask him to sit with me for a bit of an interview on the topic, with the promise that it would fun because we’d film it on my iPhone. Below is a transcript of our conversation.

Name: Seth Sarkar
Age: Six years
Grade: One

Me: What’s your favourite part about school now?

Him: Well, there’s pizza lunch, long recess and the time we built temple structures out of straw and tape.

Me: What’s your least favourite thing about school these days?

Him: The work.

Me: OK, well, how would describe what we are going to do next year?

Him: Oh, you mean “Mommy School.”

Me: Yes. What does that mean we’re going to be doing?

Him: You’ll teach me at home but we’ll still have playdates with F and A (his two best friends).

Me: (Slightly panicked): Well, I’m not teaching everything, I mean other people will be helping and we’ll go to classes and activities, right?

Him:
Sure. So, can we go on the subway?

Me:
Um, yes.

Him: Without Avery? (his middle brother)

Me:
We’ll see. OK, so tell me a bit about what you’d like to do at “Mommy School.” I mean this our chance to learn anything you want!

Him: Build more structures, maybe learn more about the world and for sure learn more about animals. And Lego.

Me: (Deep breathing to ignore Lego comment, since as we’re speaking the entire playroom floor is covered with it and I’ve stepped on painful Lego people that somehow migrated to my office twice this morning).

Me: (Attempting a different tactic). Anything you’re worried about with “Mommy School”?

Him: Avery distracting me from work.

Me: (Unable to help myself) That’s a bit much coming from someone who gets daily warnings for talking in class.

Him: Can I go now?

Me: Yes and please pick up the Lego before I sweep it all away.

For the record, I recently picked up How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk and after re-watching our conversation to type this, I think I’ll bump it up on my reading list.

Until then, my sense is that he’s a bit confused about “Mommy School” and that a part of him believes it will be like an extended weekend or holiday, with no real schedule and lots of Lego and video game time (and who knows, if things don’t go right maybe it will?). But I think as long as he still sees his friends (who all live around us) and has some specific activities planned that he can look forward to, I think it’ll be OK.

When the kids on the street are all headed back to his old school next September, the same school where his little brother is starting junior kindergarten, how will “Mommy School” stack up then, I wonder?