Thursday, September 11, 2008

How Much is Just Enough?

If there is one topic that comes up among homeschoolers (after rolling our eyes at the non-existent "socialization" question), it is how much is enough. How much activity? How much academics? How much playtime? How much access to outside resources? How much money to spend? How much independence? How much one-on-one time? How much discipline? How much privacy?

These questions are the questions that all parents ask but when you choose not to send your child into the school system, these questions become magnified - there is no strong outside authority answering it for you and your child. Every child gives you their own answer.

Every year we struggle to answer the how much question and it gets more complicated to answer it as Finn and Lucy get older and their interests become more defined and refined and, not to mention, divergent. Gone are the days when, for example, Finn's grade one curriculum consisted mainly of: go to park, dig a large hole. In Finn's case, I should add: put on a suit and tie, go to park, dig a large hole. (He was in a phase where he loved to wear a suit and tie so I had the only six year-old at the playground digging who looked like he could go to a formal affair just afterward.) But digging a hole, or sometimes a trench, was definitely a huge part of Finn's education that year. He would start digging, which attracted other children (boys, mainly) who shared his deep love of digging, and they would create all sorts of stories about why and what they were digging. He really learned a lot that year.

Now, at nearly 12, he still like to dig a good hole now and then but it isn't quite enough. The thing is, we have all these amazing resources at our fingertips here in NYC. There is an urgency to take advantage of them all. It is hard to step back and remind ourselves that some of the greatest thinkers and inventors of our time had access to next to nothing and still thrived. Plus, I am a firm believer in the power of boredom. But how much boredom?

And so it goes.

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