It’s been a while since I’ve written here. The homeschooling times have left me feeling like I don’t have much to contribute. Discussions and posts in the homeschooling groups I’ve been a part of for years are overrun with questions about what curriculum to use while staying home during COVID, arguments about masks and vaccines, people seeking to form pods while their kids wait out going back to school, and so many ads from teachers, centers, and organizations looking to cash in on the sudden influx of homeschoolers.
Homeschooling may be booming, for the moment anyway, but with that boom has come confusion, opportunism, and so much lack of understanding about what homeschooling is and can be.
This past week I’ve been grateful for two reminders of why we homeschooled our kids, and what I love about homeschooling.
First, I’ve been proofreading a book of fiction, poetry, and artwork by the extraordinary group of homeschooled teens that make up a creative writing workshop I’m fortunate enough to facilitate. During the summer, while we haven’t been meeting, they’ve been busy editing, compiling, and formatting their forthcoming volume. Reading and re-reading their work has left me delighted, renewed, and hopeful. Their distinctive individual voices, their passion for writing and literature, their broad range of interests, their competence and insight, are inspiring and moving.
Second came the return of Youthquake Theater, the youth theater company my youngest started when they were 13. College and COVID sidetracked the company for a few years, but this summer it’s back with a wonderful production of “The Tempest.” Last night I watched a dozen homeschoolers, ranging in age from 7 to about 16, deliver Shakespeare’s language without a hitch. I was awestruck yet again by the enthusiasm with which they tackled their roles, the layers of complexity they wove into their performances, and the clear understanding they had of exactly what their characters were saying and feeling. I laughed at the antics of the Stephano/Trinculo/Caliban trio, marveled at the presentation of a two-actor Ariel, and teared up as Caliban spoke about the beauty of the island.
While I and my adult kid served as mentors and guides for these undertakings, the real work was and is done by the kids. Witnessing them executing their ideas and expressing their creativity, and having a boatload of fun doing it, felt like a familiar wave washing over me, full of revitalizing affirmation — yes, this is why we did what we did, and why we do what we do.