During Christmas break, we pulled our ten-year-old daughter, M, out of a private school in Brooklyn because we decided it was doing her more harm than good. We have a younger daughter who goes to a great public school, and we decided to homeschool M for the remainder of the year and enroll her in September. I was terrified to make the leap, even for a short amount of time, because I’m in the midst of writing my second novel, but it felt like the right thing to do.
So, what does homeschooling look like after the month? I think it’s different for every person and every family, but for us, it’s amazing. Much better than I imagined. It’s made our lives so much less stressful. No morning craziness. No rushing a kid out the door who hated school. No driving. No trying to park the car after driving. No sick days. And at the end of the day, my kid who used to get so stressed out during school and came home a wreck is now lovely in the evening and totally easy at bedtime.
What about the schooling? Even though it’s homeschooling, most of our formal schooling doesn’t happen at home. I teach her writing, which is my expertise, and was under-emphasized in her former school. This month, she was excited to learn about the persuasive essay and is now turning everything into a persuasive essay. The other day, she wrote one on all the reasons why she needed a phone. Hmm…nice essay, but no. We’ve had a lot of fun writing together on various topics, and the rest . . . well, we live in New York City and the opportunities are endless.
Right now, she’s taking this amazing robotics class and soon she’ll start a science class for homeschoolers at a science museum for kids. She also goes to a math tutoring place a few times a week. In a few weeks, she begins a textile arts class. She’s also in a competitive swim class and plays lacrosse. She played cello in her old school, but now she wants to start guitar.
One day a week we go on a field trip and there are so many museums in this town, I think we’ll be able to hit a new place every week. We plan to do some road trips when our youngest daughter is on break, and we’ll learn more geography and history that way. My husband and their dad, Gavin Purcell, is the producer of the Tonight Show and he’s pretty busy, but he does Dad School on Saturday afternoons, which has been pretty darn hilarious, including creating podcasts, mini-movies and giant art sculptures (picture an entire bedroom covered with tin foil).
But what about the socialization? The classes and playdates are great for that. Also, Park Slope, where we live, happens to be a mecca for homeschoolers…who knew? There are a ton of kids just like M.
Best of all, we have our peaceful, happy kid back.
How do I find time to write? I write when the babysitter comes in the afternoon. It’s less time, but it means I’m focused, and my writing is going better than it’s gone in the last year.
I’m just as shocked as anyone to admit that this has been a pretty cool adventure. I thought it was going to be hard for me, but wonderful for her. I thought I’d give her a six month inhale and exhale. And then back to school. But now, I’m thinking maybe it’ll be longer. I guess we’ll see where this homeschooling thing leads us.