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School Trip? Or Family Day?

Updated on January 12, 2012

Recently, my homeschooled teenager talked about going back to brick and mortar school. The idea of high school as portrayed in shows like Saved by the Bell and Degrassi thrill her. She remembers why we stopped traditional schooling but truly believes High School would be different. I believe it, too, but my thoughts of how different things will be don't exactly thrill me. And so, I've decided to nix the idea of sending her back. At least for another year. After that? I don't know. I'll have to decide that as the time draws nearer.

The homeschooling lifestyle is just that - a lifestyle. I enjoy getting up in the morning without having to rush or worry whether homework has been completed and put away. I love not worrying about my daughter carrying a 15 pound book bag on her back all day. And I love not worrying about how much homework she'll have and when she'll have the time to just 'be'.

Raynham Hall Museum, Oyster Bay, Long Island

It's not pure bliss. I won't lie. But it works for my family. In fact, the beauty of it is being able to adjust the learning methods as we grow more comfortable with the process. And of course, there's the freedom of participating in activities with other homeschoolers. Like recently, when we went to Raynham Hall in Oyster Bay and covered both American History and Art.

The owner of the house, Samuel Townsend, was a Patriot when the population of Oyster Bay area was mainly Loyalists. The children - ranging in age from 6 to 14 - were given an in-depth description of how a family whose loyalty was so firmly embedded in hope for this infant country had to live a lie when, after the Battle of Long Island, the British army occupied their home. They saw a letter written in 1777, from George Washington. Read it, ooo'd and aaaah'd at being so close to that original and recognizable piece of history. They were told how people lived during the times - day to day activities and chores, including the methods and necessity of candle making. They were shown entries in a diary from one of the Townsend girls who fell in love with one of the British soldiers occupying her home. Heartbreaking in it's honesty, it clearly expressed how she knew she loved an 'enemy' but earnestly hoped - no, prayed - their differences could be overcome and they could one day be together. That day would never come and Sarah, or Sally as she was called, never married, but instead lived the rest of her life pinning for the one man who'd stolen her heart.

At the end of the tour and lecture, the children were given quills to form into pens. Using it to write and draw proved interesting... and, for some, quite messy. They gave a valiant effort though not one of them came close to the billowy and ornate flourishes contained in Sally Townsend's diary or even in the hasty yet fluid lines from George Washington's letter.

They came away from the tour excited and enlightened and with an appreciation for the advances we've made in our day-to-day existence - as well as with a deeper understanding of how vital and personal the fight had been.

Sure, public schools have field trips, too. I know that. But there's something magical about being there as a family, about learning together and sharing those wondrous ah-ha moments. Of course, as I said, it's a lifestyle that's not for everyone, but it works for us and my only regret is that we didn't start the homeschooling process when Daughter was in elementary school. I would have loved to witness the 'ah-ha' moments she had during those wonderfully innocent and exciting years.

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