“Thanks, Mom!”

That’s what the Golfer said to me today.

“Thanks for what?” I asked, because on a scale of 1-10 exciting days, today was about a 2. Costco, driving The Naturalist to the Veterinarian where she volunteers, stopping by Target, and hanging out at home. Not exactly the things that inspire gratitude in kids.

“I love being homeschooled. It’s so much better than anything else!” he said.

The Naturalist, who was sitting on the couch, nodded her head in agreement.

“Why do you think it’s better than anything else?” I wondered.

“Because it’s like we get unlimited recess!” Now both of them were nodding enthusiastically.

That’s pretty much what they tell people when they ask what we do for homeschool. After pointing out that they don’t homeschool…and that they don’t have to learn anything. A year ago, I would have cringed in embarrasment. Wondering to myself what the other person was thinking…what I myself would have been thinking before ‘seeing the unschooling light.’ I mean, ‘not having to learn’ and having ‘recess all day’ is heresy. Worse than heresy. It’s proposterous. It goes against everything we are taught in school, and taught about how kids learn, and taught about ourselves. There are 3 main responses I get from people: 1) If kids don’t have to learn something, they won’t learn anything. 2) Kids have to be forced to sit and learn something worthwhile…’play’ and ‘recess’ aren’t as important. 3) Kids don’t have the capacity to learn things without being told by someone in authority how to learn it.

In the past year, I have seen first hand how all those assumptions are false. And I have learned to give my kids a lot more credit for being curious, capable, dynamic learners. And I have an entire bookmark dedicated to quotes from John Holt, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Journal of Psychology, etc., that help me back up my position on this. However! I am too tired to link to them all. And! I feel like I can finally take my stand on my own, based on my own observations.

Today in particular, I thought it was interesting that the Golfer talked about having recess all day. Many days, the TV is on, in addition to the video games. And then there are the days where they literally DO spend all day outside, playing around. Those type of days I would expect to hear the ‘unlimited recess’ thanks. But today! It was pretty textbook learning-all-day.

He was up at 7, using an amazing computer program “Read, Write, and Type” to teach himself how to type. The Naturalist got herself ready to spend 4 hours assisting a veterinarian with animal surgeries, cleaning, and helping take care of animals. At Costco and Target, The Golfer was busy figuring out how much of his allowance he had left to buy a Wii game…how much longer he had to save to reach his goal, and making change at the cashier. Once we all got back home again, The Naturalist was busy at work constructing scale buildings for her stuffed animals. The Golfer opened up his other favorite computer game, “JumpStart World” (which, for ‘educational software’, is pretty darn amazing!) which he played for 3 hours to advance to certain levels and open up new parts of his world. They spent time cleaning the kitchen, cleaning their rooms, and helping me take in groceries. And then, library book reading for a couple hours.

I couldn’t have made it more schooly if I’d broken out the workbooks and tried! But the magic is this: when you are learning what you want to learn, then it doesn’t feel like learning at all. It feels just like recess.

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