On Taking the Kids out of School

PICT0163-154Several parents I know believe children should never miss school except in the case of illness. They take school very seriously and feel that letting their child skip school sends the wrong message.

Then there are parents like me.

Before I had children I read David Guterson’s Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense. I admire families that are able to homeschool and suspect that the most important learning takes place away from the confines of the classroom.

I’m pretty sure “world schooling,” as one friend called it when she and her husband took their two daughters on a nine-month around-the-world trip, trumps formal schooling every time.

Which is why my 10-year-old, 9-year-old, and 6-year-old aren’t in school this week.

Instead, they’re with me on an assignment on the Oregon Coast. We spent today walking up Astoria’s steep hills, playing at one of my favorite playgrounds in the world (Tapiola Park in Astoria is up there on my list with Coram’s Fields in London and Harold H. Higashihara Park on the Big Island in Hawaii), exploring a 1.5 mile old growth forest trail, climbing the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column to look out over where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean, and eating homemade fudge in Seaside.

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There are downsides to this trip:

The car ride to get here felt interminable: “Mommy, are we there yet?” Etani asked after we’d been driving for 40 minutes and had more than six hours to go.

We’re getting way too little sleep: After going to sleep after 10:00 p.m. the baby woke at 5:45 this morning. She, Etani, and I had finished breakfast and were out and about before 7:15 a.m.

The kids have been bickering too much: “DON’T EVEN PUT YOUR TOE ON MY SIDE OF THE BED!” “STOP BREATHING ON ME!”

After my friend’s family returned from their world schooling trip, she and her husband and daughters went back to their busy, structured lives. “The thing I miss most about our trip,” her then 9-year-old daughter said to her one day, “is getting to spend so much time with you every day.”

Too soon it will be Monday and time for my kids to go back to school.


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