Today, October 1, the day I'm writing this post, a month before you see it, is the day I filed my PSA here in the Great State of California. We are now officially the Excellent Adventure Academy, where the World is our Classroom, and Rowan is our first official student. We are, according to the government, one more family contributing to the roughly 200,000 homeschoolers in the state.
Which now means that I have to keep records. The very thought makes me break out in a sweat. I am not a paperwork-oriented girl; I like the big picture just fine, but panic when someone asks me for an official title for the head of our school (we settled on "headmaster" because it sounds like "headwind" which is what you get on boats sometimes). But even scarier than the thought that I might dot the wrong "i" or cross the wrong "t" is the thought that I now have to not only keep attendance, but that I have to document a course of study including english, science, social sciences, health and physical education, visual and performing arts, and mathematics. And I stare at the blank screen before me, and I ask myself, how am I to begin separating the thread of these topics from the tapestry of his life?
For example, in the EAA, we definitely have "school" on Saturdays, at the Farmers' Market. We live in one giant science experiment, since a sailboat is a neverending opportunity to see physics, oceanography, biology, meteorology, geography, and astronomy at work. When they've had enough outside entertainment (it's not swabbing the deck, it's physical education!), they come inside for visual and performing arts (watching videos) and more english (reading stories and working on more items for the Word Collection). Then there's naptime, which is more physical education (because listening to your body telling you it's tired is important) or maybe social sciences (because many nations of the world have siesta, which is such a sensible way to structure your day).
I could babble on. But the fact is, Rowan is steeped in learning, day in and day out, in a thousand different ways, all the time. Even when all we're doing is hanging out on the couch watching videos, which by our culture's standards is "nothing", there's something "educational" we can take from that. I'm not quite sure when learning, and therefore by the standards of the State, "schooling" ever really stops. Is it still considered "attendance" if we can knock out a whole school year in no time, because we're learning 24/7?
On the one hand, it's all school. On the other hand, it flows so much better if it's just life, and not merely a string of teachable moments. We play word games because they're fun, not because I'm trying to teach him English. We bake bread because it's yummy, not because it's science. We revel in the world around us, and follow our interests. I'm not sure what the best way is, for documenting the process of a young mind expanding, but I'm absolutely thrilled that we are taking the opportunities as they present themselves. Let's see what happens next.
And if you've got a great idea for how mere documentation can keep up, let me know in the comments.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason, her sons Rowan and Kestrel, and her daughter Aurora. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.