Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unrelieved Boredom

"As I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something.  Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me."  ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

People choose to homeschool their children for a variety of reasons.  Some people do it for religious reasons.  Some because their local public schools are less than satisfactory.  Some for social reasons.  And then there are those, like me, who have chosen to homeschool so their children do not have to suffer through thirteen years (we have to do kindergarten now) of unrelieved boredom.

Before their parent-teacher conferences this past fall, I asked my children if there was anything they wanted me to discuss with their teachers.  Both children told me to ask for harder work and more homework.  Every day they would come home from school complaining that school was SOOOO BORING.  I think they were feeling the effects of unrelieved boredom.

My goal for my children has always been to pass on a love of learning.  A love of reading.  To want to find the answers to their questions. To dig deeper and really study something.  Sure, this occasionally leads to trouble like over Easter weekend when my son decided to dismantle his grandma's Wii console to see how it worked.  But I love that my children are curious and ask questions.  I love that they want to know how something works.  I love that when they ask questions, they want real scientific answers.  I love that they ask to watch science movies on TV and check out non-fiction books from the library.

Taking apart his bike to see how his chain works
Today we went to our homeschool science co-op and the topic was on monocots and dicots, a rather boring topic if all we did was read about it.  But after explaining what they were and how to tell the difference, we all went outside and went on a search through the yard to identify the plants that we found.  All of the children remembered what they had learned and were able to distinguish if a plant was a monocot or dicot.

We are learning about the pioneers right now and what it was like to travel the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails.  To engage my children in this, I told them at the end of our unit, they would have to decide which trail they would have wanted to take and why.  As we are learning about the states in the order that they ratified the Constitution, we regularly vote on which state out of the ones we've learned about so far would we actually want to live in.  So far it's between Vermont and Maine, but we've only just crossed the Mississippi so that could change.  (And yes, I am sure that my life long desire to live on a homestead in a log cabin surrounded by woods might have swayed them a bit in what states they prefer)

Homeschooling makes reaching my goals a lot easier.  But even then, I know that school can't always be fun.  Sometimes it is okay to be bored.  It is important to teach in such a way that draws a child to want to learn the material.  To teach in such a way that fosters a life long love for learning.

Dressing up for Mystery Week at preschool
Yes, homeschooling makes reaching my goals a lot easier, but it isn't the only way.  No matter how you choose for your children to be educated, you can still foster a love of learning.   Don't just read about something, actually engage in it--go outside and experience it in nature.  Go to a museum and see it for yourself.  Imagine what it would be like if you were the one crossing the country in a covered wagon.  Watch a documentary about things that you can't physically observe yourself (my children are currently loving Discovery Channel's Frozen Planet).

Do not settle for thirteen years of unrelieved boredom.  


  1. Should I keep dvr-ing Frozen Planet? Or did you buy the series? Just wondering. Good post!

    1. Keep recording it. We've only seen 3 or 4 of them since I didn't realize it was on until last week so they missed some.