Ask yourself: 'What if we homeschooled?'
Walking through a couple of big box stores this past week, I couldn't help but notice the displays of back-to-school gear. Lists for what to buy for each school were conveniently displayed next to the racks of products. Parents pored over the lists while children made their selections. It is a ritual I observe every year from afar.
You don't have to go there, either. There is an alternative. Imagine the possibilities of homeschooling. This year, ask yourself this question: "What if we homeschooled?"
What if you walked past the lists this year? You could look around for what was interesting and find what appealed to your child. Your children could purchase what they needed for their own use and not worry about recommendations and sharing with the class.
What if you skipped buying back-to-school clothes? You might convince your child that the money spent on the latest fashions isn't nearly as much fun as embarking on a new adventure. Take the money and head to a theme park in the off season. Buy a new swimsuit from the clearance rack and sign up for off-season swim lessons.
As long as you are dreaming, think about planning a vacation that starts in September or October when the crowds are gone and, often, the prices are lower. Grab a map — remember maps? — and have your child plot out the distance to travel from here to there. Pick up one of those cheap notebooks and start estimating costs. Let your children plan activities based on the budget you allocate. Learning to budget and prioritize is an essential life skill, and it is much more fun when there is a trip involved.
What if you threw out textbooks and visited museums? Instead of reading about the California missions, you could make it your family's mission to visit all of them this year. That has to be more memorable than buying a craft kit to build a cardboard replica. Research the times, don a costume and show up for scheduled living history days at historical destinations. Don't worry about field trip funding and finding enough parent volunteers. Invite a few homeschool friends, pack the cooler and hit the road.
What if this year you ditched school lunches and taught your kids to cook? You could supplement culinary arts lessons with trips to local farms and grocery stores to find the right ingredients. Calculate cost per serving, conduct taste tests, anything to make learning a life skill more interesting.
What if you stopped thinking about what extra-curricular activities would be good for the kids and started spending time doing those activities with the kids instead? Sign up for archery classes, train for a 5K, volunteer as a family for your favorite cause. Take a hike, literally, and explore the natural wonders this area has to offer. Learn about the flora and fauna while you work on physical conditioning together.
Now is the time to look at what you like about having the kids home for the summer. Find ways to extend the parts that work for you and restructure the parts that aren't so sustainable. Encourage your child to explore natural interests, and then guide and perfect that learning in the coming school year.
Imagine your world as a homeschool family. Give up on racing to meet the school bell and set a pace for learning that fits your family. The world is your classroom, and there are teachers all around you. This year, ask yourself this question: "What if we homeschooled?"
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.