Homeschooling takes place differently in different families' houses.

Some families duplicate school at home, complete with desks, worksheets, schedules, and chalkboards. (Everything but the chalkboard makes me cringe in that scenario.) 

On one of the opposite ends of the spectrum is unschooling. I am not an official unschooler, mostly because my husband is not completely comfortable with the idea, but I definitely lean that way.

Unschoolers are cool. Unschoolers don't do worksheets. Unschooling follows the philosophy that kids naturally want to learn (unless school has extracted that trait from them already). Kids learn at different rates, often in leaps and bounds followed by a long spell of nothing. Kids focus on topics and dig really deep, if you let them.

I let them.

My daughter, for instance, is obsessed with PowerPoint these days. For the past couple of weeks, she has spent two or three hours a day playing with the software. My son has watched her and picked up the interest. Every other day or so I spend about five minutes giving them a demo on a new feature. (I just paused my writing to give them an animation lesson.)

Now, you might think this is a waste of time, but PowerPoint is good. (Actually, my son does not have PowerPoint on his computer, so he is using the new version of Google Presentation, which is basically the same thing.) PowerPoint is good for a variety of reasons.

  • PowerPoint is a marketable skill. I get paid for messing around with PowerPoint. Once she masters the skill, why couldn't she?
  • PowerPoint combines many disciplines. She's increasing her spatial skills as she does shape unions, intersections, subtractions, and groups. That ability will come in handy if she ever gets into set theory or databases. She's learning photo manipulation and all about aspect ratios. She's learning about percentages, and she's writing. I imagine it won't be long before she asks me about graphic design.

So, I'm good with my daughter blowing time playing around with PowerPoint.

My son is following his sister's interest in PowerPoint, and he plays around with Google Presentation a bit, but his current obsession is cooking. I told him if he finished his list (chores, piano, reading to me, feeding the dog) by 11:30 a.m. he could choose between seeing a movie with me or having a cooking lesson.

He chose the cooking lesson.

He had to do a bit of fractions, and coincidentally, that is where he's at in math. (I generally have ulterior motives in the choices I give.) He had to read a couple of recipes. He made his "favoritist desert ever," and we have a pumpkin pie for dinner.