i have a confession to make.
no, not some deep, dark secret that might titillate.
perhaps not even a very interesting one.
i love homeschooling my kids!
it’s something i’ve done for almost the entire thirty some odd years that i’ve been a parent.
of course, every kid’s first teacher is their parent or parents. from us they learn how to talk, we help them take their first steps when they begin to walk. we thrill when they can parrot the abc’s or some nursery rhyme we’ve recited too many times for sanity.
but beyond this, it is really something special for me to learn new ways to present a lesson or concept to my special little pupils.
that’s the way i see it. i do not so much ‘teach’ them, as learn how to help them to learn.
i have always told my kids that i would never require them to learn anything that they wont need in life. through the years of helping one daughter learn until she went to live with her father, then the next one right up until she graduated high school and now helping ziona, i have kept my promise. i never required them to learn something that they wouldn’t absolutely need in life.
so i dont teach the usual ‘american history’ lies that if someday they go to college they will just have to unlearn to accommodate the truth of the matter. it isn’t the ‘oh weren’t the settlers to the new world brave’ but ‘isn’t it tragic about the resulting culture clash and near genocide of the tribes of the western hemisphere upon the influx of europeans’.
of course reading and math are no brainers. because one will need them for sure as the world becomes more and more their plaything. but i teach all the shortcuts and methods that make rote memorization unnecessary; the methods i used myself while driving the teachers crazy in grade school.
teacher: “i can see that you got the right answer, but you HAVE to show your work”
me: “but my way is easier and gets the same answer”
teacher: “it’s called long division” -(probably swearing under her breath) “so do it the way you’ve been taught!”
with ziona i have learned even more about how to help someone to learn.
for science we do all kinds of experiments and watch lots of national geographic and other videos to make the concepts real.
music and art are hands on and are treated as more important than history.
we read books that she wants to read, not the ones on some list. so it’s a lot of r.l. stine spooky books, or scooby doo funny ones. still she reads. and as time goes forward, her choice of reading materials will mature and reflect her own special interests. no doubt archeology will be among them, as this is a favorite already.
here’s the thing. with every child i have had to learn a new and specialised way to get ‘in’ to their space, new ways to tailor old concepts to each one’s individual and unique way of thinking. and because of this, i learn and relearn every thing i teach.
so a bit of creativity is involved, especially in teaching ziona, who besides being transgender is also on the autism spectrum. a very high functioning girl but one with a very low tolerance for frustration.
as a poet, and an artist the demand for this creativity, for having to bend my mind around hers and think differently so as to know how to present something, is fulfilling. very fulfilling!
so here i am, a fifty-six year old grandmother, raising an eight year old transgender child who has autism…talk about teaching an old dog new tricks!
in the end, it is she who is helping ME to learn really!
and i just love homeschooling!