“Mom, if I can pass 3rd grade MCAS at the end of 2nd grade, can I take 3rd grade off?”
Makenzie posed this question to me the first week of school last year. Bruce and I told her that she had to do something- she couldn’t just sit around and do nothing. She replied, “I will homeschool myself”. Further exploration of this topic uncovered that Makenzie wanted a year of self directed exploration and learning. She presented a curriculum to us which included science, literature, Spanish, art and swimming. She further explained that she could learn math and reading through these subjects.
Just to be clear- this Happy Springfield Parent, and her kids, were very happy with our public school choice. No event happened, teachers have been top notch, friends plentiful. Makenzie simply wanted to explore her education on her own. We told her that she had to complete a community service activity. She chose to blog about animals that need adopting at the Dakin. Taylor quickly picked up on the conversation and declared her own interest in learning at home. The two kids soon named their new school “Smarty Pants Academy”.
We are in week 3 of Smarty Pants Academy. We are having a really fun time and I am feeling lucky to have the professional latitude to support their learning at home. I am impressed by my kids- they are taking this seriously and each day they set goals for themselves that they work to accomplish. Even cooler is that Springfield and our region provide the perfect classroom for such a year of learning. In 2.5 weeks, they have:
- Visited NYC and the Natural History Museum, set of Today Show and learned about subways (Taylor built one under her bed when we returned home),
- Studied slugs and worms and decay in Forest Park,
- Absorbed lots of information at 3 of the Springfield Museums,
- Read about birds, cupcakes, sewing, lizards and gardening at the Forest Park Library,
- Made a grocery list and shopped on a budget (lots of reading, math and teamwork!),
- Designed and assembled new Barbie clothes,
- Researched the stinkhorn mushroom in our yard.
This post is not meant to create a homeschool movement (although it is growing at a rapid pace nationally). I simply wanted to be clear that our decision to homeschool was not seated in any dissatisfaction with the Springfield Public Schools. More importantly, I want to emphasize that Springfield is an amazing city to homeschool from if you are considering such a move. Options make a city great!