So you’re wondering if educating your child at home is right for you. This depends on a lot of factors, some of which are: your relationship with your child; your relationship with the child’s other parent (married or otherwise); your type of job (self-employed or not); other support systems (like grand parents, aunts and uncles); but most importantly, who you are, i.e. your personality.
Some of these factors will be dealt with in later articles, and some of them might be easy for you to modify, but here, is this article, let us try to address that most important factor: the personality of the homeschooler (or ‘unschooler’, as the term is sometimes used). We will start with a list of questions to ask yourself. After each one, there is a ‘Frame of Reference’ so that the question can be placed in some sort of philosophical context. These questions would be similar to those found in typical magazine-style personality tests. . However, somewhere in there, are questions not even listed, but ones no doubt you will be drafting in your own mind. And, by the end of it, you should be able to get the general picture. If you think you have an easy personality match, then great. You are a born home schooler! If not, and you think that you still want to undertake ‘ce grand projet’, then you may need to alter your personality, and this mon amis, is a most interesting and rewarding task. Make no mistake, you will come up against conflict both from within and without. Stay focused to your goal and trust in that higher power. Well, enough prologue, lets get onto the questions:
Question 1: Do you like children?
Frame of Reference: This may seem like a dumb question, but it is critical to your success as a homeschooler. Young children can be entertaining, but incredibly annoying with their noise, their interminable questions, their antics and their disregard for hygiene or your effort at doing the laundry. Teenagers can be moody, rebellious and… well just think back a little, you’ll get the picture
Before I had children I did not really like them and to an extent, I still don’t. Let me clarify my point. Sure I’d play with my niece, nephew and kids who belonged to others for a short while; work them into a frenzy and let their parents handle the outcome. I was sort of like a devil’s advocate for misbehaviour. Did I like children enough to spend extended periods with them? No, not really. However, with parenthood, as with marriage, comes responsibility and commitment. You could choose to endure it or enjoy it; let it get the better of you or even run away from it; but I believe a change in perspective can go a long way. Take some advice from the ole Cat Stevens and “…learn to brighten up your ways; kick out your dull padded life. There’s much to know and no doors in space. They were only mirrors you imagined in your mind”. As I tell friends of mine, ‘Daddy’ is at once the most beautiful word as well as the most irritating.
Question 2: How would prefer to spend your free time (as if you had any) watching a sitcom on TV; or do something creative with your child?
Frame of Reference: After a long hard day, it’s easy to just plop down on the sofa, switch on the the idiot box and just be bombarded with trivia. You’d hope the kids would stay quiet long enough for you to at least see the end of the show. STOP IT! Learn to see. It takes effort, at first, and will always, at least a bit, but your response to this question – deep inside – will definitely help you determine what direction you will take.
Question 3: How open minded are you?
Frame of Reference: Is it easy to admit to yourself that the things that you believed in all your life may not be right after all; that your child may actually have a better appreciation for the world than you do; or that their is no good or bad person i.e. the same person that can do good can do a great deal of bad? In other words can you (as Gandhi put it) hate the sin, but love the sinner?
Question 4: Are you a Control Freak?
Frame of Reference: Must things always go your way? Are you willing to let your child use the wrong grammar without immediately correcting it, but correct it by speaking better yourself and he /she will learn eventually without feeling put down i.e. you know everything and he /she does not?
Question 5: Do you live with double standards?
Frame of Reference:Do you believe that children should not do certain things, but it’s OK for adults? Do you believe that you should be able to question your children, but your children should not be able to question you; that they must not shout, but you can; or that you can watch porn and have extramarital sex (with or without their knowing), but they should not?
Question 6: Can you perceive what the average person can not?
Frame of Reference: There are many situations and happenings around us that few people assimilate. This is best understood by an illustration. For example, there are many people of lower and middle income who like to criticise the Syrians of Trinidad and Tobago as drug dealers, envying their wealth. The funny thing is this biased critiquing is often done while ‘liming’ at bars or get-togethers where the individuals doing the criticizing are holding either a Carib or a Stag beer in their hands. They fail to see that the reason that ‘Sabga’ (a well known Syrian businessman) is rich and they are not is that he is producing the beer that they are drinking while they are idyling. Now, this observation is not meant to praise or demean either party, but just to illustrate a point. To be a homeschooler who will nurture children who will add to the world, your mind must not only be open, but be able to dicern sense from nonsense and fact from fiction.
Question 7: Can you sit still?
Frame of Reference: Can you sit still in a quiet place without any radio, television or facebook? I don’t mean sitting quiet in order to study or finish paperwork, but sit quiet and contemplate; contemplate the meaning of life and the fragility of it and the fact that while we sit still, we at the equator are spinning around with the earth at a speed of 24,000 miles per hour, while those reserachers in Antartica are barely moving. You know, stuff like that, real ridiculous draft that you would be afraid to let others know what you thinking, because they’d look at you as… well, in a word: weird .