Friday, February 04, 2011

Snow days and the homeschooler, part 1

The topic of whether homeschoolers get snow days or not has come up surprisingly often over the past few days.  It has either come in the form of a question asked in passing from a neighbor or by the increasingly frustrated comments by parents whose children are normally in school during the day or as a discussion with a fellow homeschooling parent.  There seem to be two underlying issues:  1.  That learning cannot happen without it being imposed from an outside source (which I'll tackle today) and 2. That children and parents living and functioning together is seen as an anomaly; something that doesn't normally happen. (Which I'll take on tomorrow because otherwise this will get too long.  Like that's ever stopped me before.)

So I'm not quite sure what to say when the neighbor calls over and asks if we had a snow day.  I mean, I know what he's asking... did we do book work today or did we take the day off.  I know what I am expected to answer, but it is not what I want to answer. 

First, I want to say that whether or not the public schools are in session has no bearing on what we do.  At all.  Once you step off the public school track you begin to realize exactly how much of modern life revolves around what the local public schools decree.  Honestly, it's a bit silly if you think about it. 

Second, asking if we get a snow day implies that because we didn't do book work, that education took a day off, which is not the case.  It is not the case for my children and it wasn't the case for his children.  You can't stop children from learning just as you can't make children learn either.  If I were to write out the educational outcomes of what we did during our snow day, it would be quite impressive, and the fact that it didn't involve a text book or a worksheet doesn't diminish its importance or effectiveness. 

Third, part of the snow day-mystique is that regular duties are given a hiatus because travel is impossible; one doesn't have to report to a job or attend a meeting or be present at school and if you didn't want to go to that place it is a double bonus.  It's a giant, snowy, get-out-of-jail-free card.  Anytime something happens that is out of the ordinary, such as a blizzard, it tends to supercede ordinary schedules, even schedules which aren't quite ordinary.  So while my children enjoyed the excitement of the blizzard and work of digging out from its aftermath, they were missing the feeling of being sprung from drudgery.

But it's difficult to communicate all of that in a 2 minute conversation shouted across the street.  So, the short, neighbor-friendly answer... yes, we had a snow day.
One bloggy housekeeping item--if you hadn't noticed Ordinary Time now has a facebook page.  If you are on fb and are interested, search for Ordinary Time and it should come up, or you can just like it on the button in the sidebar.  (I can't believe I just wrote that considering how much I dislike the usage of the term 'like'.)  I've been putting up comments about life in the Big Ugly House which don't warrant a full post, plus I have visions of it being a place where we could discuss some of the books I blog about in an easier format.  Because you all keep up with my reading suggestions, right?  Please?  Because I would love to have people to discuss them with.  All that to say, come and visit.


Jessica said...

This post is timely! I have been asked frequently as this is my first winter homeschooling both my girls and our public school neighbors just had snow day #9. Unfortunately most people feel since we were in school for so long we just do things the "school" way, when that could not be farther from the truth. I just smile and say we learn every day and don't follow the school calendar.

sandwichinwi said...

My HS kids did all their regular schoolwork, including textbooks. They got it done faster, with the incentive of having extra playmates around in the form of their PS siblings.

I feel a shade of guilt for feeling that we can't afford to miss a day of schoolwork just because the PSs have a snow day. The flip side of that is that if we do school as scheduled, WE have the freedom to take off a different day to go to a museum or other field trip. To me, skipping school because it's snowy out is a waste of a day off for us at home.

I dislike the silent implication in the question that I am a "mean" mom/teacher if I DON'T give them the day off. "Oh, your poor kids, missing out by having to do school." I think that ties in with your comment about the thrill of playing "hooky" you get when getting a day off. Heck, I got a thrill at not having to go in to work Tuesday night, even tho it meant I made $0.

Will have to go check out your FB page.


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