I wish I could walk around in my kids’ heads for a day. Since I went to public schools, I can’t imagine what it must be like for them to wake up each morning knowing that the day is theirs to do with as they like. I remember that when I was in school and the weather got warmer and May rolled around, the anticipation of 3 school-free months was almost too much to bear. I also remember the dread in my stomach upon hearing the cicada’s (who used to never sing before August but now are often in full voice by late June), because it meant that summer break was nearing its’ end and I would be required to go back to school.
For my kids there is no line between life and learning. It’s all one, and we don’t define it by subject or lesson plan. Textbooks are foreign objects to Ben and Maya, and when their friends talk about ‘Saxon Math’ or ‘Story of the World’ or any other popular book/curriculum among homeschoolers, they don’t ever turn to me and ask to get those books. (We do own two of the Story of the World books, purchased in a fit of ‘we must learn history’ panic a couple of years ago. Want to make Maya’s eyes glaze over and roll back in her head in record time? Break one of those books out and suggest reading a chapter.)
Instead, they revel in tasks of their choosing, whether it be working on her Spanish, in Maya’s case, or building an obstacle course for his Bionicles, in Ben’s case, or making music videos which they do together. Today the weather was warm enough that you could almost taste Spring, and Ben was excited because that means bike riding! He brought his bike in from the terrace, put down some paper to park it on and happily spent about 30 minutes cleaning off a winters’ worth of grime to prepare it for a trip to the park tomorrow.
Maya had her NDI dance class today, which she loves. It is held in a studio down in Soho, and although she loves the class, we do not love the commute. NDI works mostly through the public schools and so classes start at 4pm and end at 5pm, or as I think of it ‘just as all hell breaks loose on the subways’. Today as we were getting off the train at 42nd St., there were people running down the stairs to try and wedge themselves in to the train before the doors could close, even though they would have only about a three minute wait if they missed it. Maya said, “Why do people run for the trains? It’s so stupid.” I know why. Because most people live their lives in a rush – they rush to get to where they aren’t, never enjoying where they are. Life learners are masters of enjoying where they are. Probably because they always tend to be where they want to be, because no one is forcing them to be anywhere else.
If my kids are any indication, it’s a happy way to grow and experience the world.