Written by Kara Anderson
People ask me every once in a while.
They lean in close, touch the top of my hand and say it in a way that I think is supposed to mean,
“Of course I’m not referring to you … ”
“But aren’t some homeschoolers a little, you know … weird?” they ask wrinkling their noses or raising their eyebrows.
I often think that many of us are not weird enough.
For instance last week, my daughter’s Girl Scout Cookie order form was due.
Her troop meets at the cute neighborhood school nearby, and so Friday morning, I told the kids we would need to go there to drop off the forms.
“But Mom,” said my 10-year-old with a look of pure puzzlement. “Do you think that’s a good idea?”
I was rushing, doing the homeschool-mom-multi-task dance — pouring tea, putting on a boot and making a grocery list.
“Sure. We need to drop the forms off today,” I said.
“But MOM,” he said again. “Are you really going to walk into a school at 10:30 a.m. on a school day with your two homeschooled kids and then just walk back out?”
Homeschooling had become so darn “normal” around here, that I figured it might be time to weird it up again.
Are you ready to embrace being a weird (enough) homeschooler too?
I’ve got some ideas:
Put waaaaay too many library books on hold.
The library hold system is like my online shopping.
Last week, I literally put a book on hold on the way to dinner with my dad and several on hold WHILE AT ANOTHER LIBRARY.
Most normal people check Facebook on their phones or send a text. I go to my library’s website and ask for everything Mac Barnett has ever written.
Speaking of books, find a great series, but only read the first one!
Weird idea, right? But here’s my new trick – I find a great series, like The Chronicles of Prydain, and I read the first one with my kids.
And then, during the next library visit, when we are filling a steamer trunk with our holds, they literally exclaim with glee when they find the next in the series.
“Can I read this right now, Mom?”
Um … well … if you REALLY want to …
Do things whenever you want! (Except maybe visit the public school down the street)
Last year, we visited a popular vacation site and got a $400 hotel room for $49.
Don’t get excited. There were also resort fees — $30 extra. And what did that fee pay for?
Absolutely no waiting for ANYTHING at their indoor theme park or water park.
We played laser tag for like 8 hours.
I like to think that it was a bonding experience. Team Anderson!
Let your kids dress how they like and grow out their hair.
My son calls his group of friends “my gang of long-haired, pre-teen apes.”
He loves them. (I do too!)
They get together weekly to play Pokemon, write songs for their band and talk endlessly about Minecraft.
They are entirely themselves, and I think that’s pretty awesome.
Bring games places.
Or, if games aren’t your thing, bring a puzzle, a book to share or a small craft project (that isn’t too messy – no glitter!).
Sit down with slices of pie or cookies and some tea, and enjoy a quiet afternoon together.
(Because sometimes, homeschooling is just way more fun away from home.)
On the topic of treats, eat waaaay too many brownies.
Last week was the week of brownies in our house.
My 8-year-old has a goal of “mastering the kitchen,” by the time she turns 9, and she has started with brownies.
We’ve made brownies many times together, but last week, she made them three times on her own – first with me close by, then with almost no help at all (except taking them out of the oven) and finally, she doubled the recipe on her own.
(Doubling! Double brownies! Yeah!)
She is mastering a skill right now, and it’s great.
Plus, she’s moved on to lemon sugar cookies.
Let your kids be hackers.
My son is teaching himself computer programming right now.
Wait – don’t freak out.
I’m not talking about that kind of hacking. I’m talking about “hackschooling” — the idea that anything can be hacked, figured out, learned.
He wants to create a video game, and so he is making himself learn how to do it.
Partially because of his own drive and partially because of his mother’s ineptitude (I’m about as tech savvy as a yard sale rotary phone), he is learning on his own.
And he can’t be stopped, no matter what sorts of stumbling blocks come up.
Maybe the best thing is the way his confidence is growing each time he overcomes an obstacle. It’s amazing to watch.
Yeah – you could say it’s weird what we’re doing here – vacationing in the middle of the week, playing Twister at Panera (just kidding – try SET instead) and raising spirited kids who spend hours baking and learning how video games work.
It isn’t what I imagined five years ago when we started this business.
But you know what? They’re really happy.
So today, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What sorts of weird things do you do as a homeschooler?
Originally published Feb 11, 2015.