Recently I read an advice piece for homeschoolers. Sign your child up to attend a learning center or free school for a few days a week, it said, so as to provide a “home base” for your child’s homeschooling experience.
I admit I was taken aback. For me and most of the homeschooling families I know, home is their home base. If I’d signed my kids up for an alternative school they may have enjoyed wonderful experiences, but one of the whole points of homeschooling was to not send our kids to school. Any school.
Having home be our home base allowed us to stay up late or sleep in if we needed to, spend hours in self-directed play, take impromptu trips to the library or the farm or the museum, snuggle up on the couch and read picture books, entertain other homeschooling friends, and so much more. Oh, the puppet shows, the tea parties, the spontaneous science experiments that wouldn’t have happened. The paintings, drawings, cookies, knitted hats, Lego constructions, sandcastles, stories, poems, snow tunnels, and fairy houses that wouldn’t have been made. The lazy days spent listening to storytellers on tape, reading books, playing with the ducks, swaying on the rope swing, climbing the giant silver maple, planting flowers and vegetables; hanging out, staring into space, pondering, thinking, daydreaming; becoming.
Of course we spent plenty of time away from home, at the library, in the woods, museums, on road trips, singing in choruses, performing in plays, at the beach, wherever we volunteered or worked, and later, when the kids were older, in the classes they chose to take.
Even while the community served as a major resource for our homeschooling, there was never any question in the kids’ minds that they were homeschoolers whose lives were grounded in home. Home was the root from which their myriad branches into the world grew. It gave them the time and space they needed to nurture themselves, to discover who they are and how they want to be in the world, to embrace the present and enjoy the moment.
Making a free school or public school or any other kind of school the home base for learning is one way of being in the world, but homeschooling is about opting out of that system. That’s why it’s called homeschooling.