Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Even homeschoolers get sucked in

To the homework game, that is.

Middle(7) has been signed up for a zoo school this year targeted to homeschoolers. They meet ten times, once a month, for two hours at a time. We were “assured” that one of the leaders had been a teacher and was up-to-date on curriculum standards and all that. Some of the moms laughed and whispered among ourselves that that wasn’t what was important to us. I should have known then . . . .

Zoo school has provided him with some opportunities, but it has also provided him with homework. For reasons that I haven’t completely figured out, he never wants to go, but he also has never regretted going or seemed at all upset when I picked him up. So I really didn’t want to push the homework thing. It was hard enough to get him there (Oldest, 9, informed me that I was using too much bribery) without also getting the homework done. Also, at his age and reading and writing level (three letter words and barely) guess who is actually doing the homework?

Yesterday was the second-to-last class, and there were assignments due – a game that he was supposed to create, a paper or poster on an animal he picked, and animal cards with facts on different animals for when he shows us around the zoo at the last class. We had some animal cards, but it’s not clear to me how he is going to use them since he can’t read them. He could hand them to us to read, but then he’s not showing us around the zoo, but just giving us information to read that I have probably gathered and added to the cards.

The game assignment didn’t call to him, but this was the assignment that sucked me in. I got myself in a dither about it. Last month (when I thought it was due) I cut out a safari game that we had in PDF form, but of course it wasn't a game that Middle had created. He was worried too, and between us, we worked ourselves into a bit of a dither, with him saying he didn’t want to do it (with a mulish expression on his face), and me resentfully busting my ass to create a simple game for him.

Fortunately, I had to go out in the middle of the afternoon, and I had a chance to recognize what was happening. He wasn’t interested in completing the assignment. I didn’t think it was a good assignment (although it could be, for the right child), and I wasn’t particularly interested in completing it either. One of the reasons my kids don’t go to school is so that I don’t have to make them do stuff (or do it myself!) that none of us thinks is worth doing. I had been sucked into a situation that I always intended to avoid, and now I needed to extricate myself.

When I got back home I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said, “I don’t want to make a game.” I was okay with that and told him so. As it turned out, when I checked him in we were asked if he had the game and the report, and I could answer “no” and hopefully made it clear that I was fine with that. At any rate, he was happy when I picked him up, and I look forward to seeing the zoo through his eyes next month.

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