So I've given a lot of thought and writing to the ways in which homeschooling is different from teaching school. And really, it is way, way different. Coming off six intense years of teaching made moving to homeschooling feel like a warm bubble bath after coming in from the cold. Fun! Relaxing! Easy!
I haven't thought much about how teaching at home is the same as classroom teaching, I think mostly because the similarities were so obvious--teaching kids how to do stuff--that they didn't bear articulating.
I just discovered a big similarity, and I'm sort of shocked about it: the need for professionalism.
Teaching school requires that you focus on the kids, and tune out things like your headache, your pants that don't fit quite right, the parent who wants a conference after school, the bullshit politics with other teachers. And so on, ad infinitum. There's so much going on in a school of any size that you hone the skill of tuning it all out so you can actually do your job. There are times when a pinpoint focus on the children and their work comes to feel like a relief, because all those other things are distracting noise: less important, less interesting. And you have far less control over how all those other things go.
And you have to be on time.
And you have to make sure you're prepared.
And you have to have eaten breakfast, and planned for your lunch.
And you have to smile and get through it, even when it's hard.
I pretty much let go off all these things when I started homeschooling. They seemed like the trappings of a professional life, not necessary anymore, like a pair of uncomfortable shoes or a good suit: something I needed to put on for a job, but at home, I could wear my slippers and robe.
Last week, we had a major mutiny. I had some deadlines unrelated to homeschooling, and a few too many personal crises, and we just didn't do much formal school. Little was also sick, so we missed out on every one of the social opportunities we usually have with other homeschoolers. There may have been a time when Big One would have reveled in a few days of freedom, but he's pretty much over that. He wants to feel like he's accomplishing something, like he's learning something, every day.
Also? He wants lunch. Every single day. And he wants to see his friends, as much as possible.
And last week, he decided that the best way to get all these things was to go to public school. He decided that we would have one last day of homeschooling and then he'd go off to school on Monday.
I asked him to give me one more chance, and we drew up a list of agreements. He doesn't want this list to be made public in any way, so I will summarize:
I now have a job. It feels pretty good.