School is Leisure

You don’t have to take the school out of your homeschool to make learning beautiful

Some people say that the home part of homeschool is more important than the school part. Some people even wish we could dispose of the term homeschool because learning at home has such little resemblance to what the modern world knows as school.

But I say we keep the word. Not only that, we transform the word. This transformation requires we step back in time and look at the origins of this word.

School is from the Latin word schole, which means leisure. School means leisure. Let’s just forget for a moment about the images that pop into our minds when we imagine school. Forget the desks and chairs. Forget the buildings. Forget the textbooks and backpacks and math test.

Just try for a moment to think about leisure. What does a person do when they are not busy surviving? Because this is what leisure is, it is the things you do when your shelter, food, and clothing are adequate. Once you know you are safe, you probably won’t die in the next 5 minutes, and your loved one’s won’t starve to death in the next week. You stop. You sit down. You contemplate. You think. You might putter around with tools, craft something beautiful. Play. This is leisure. This is school. School is leisure.

In our leisure time we create, contemplate, and explore.

School is the playful part of life. The relaxing part. The part you do because you have everything you need. The thing you are grateful for because it is so precious and beautiful.

Learning is leisurely work

Yes, learning is work. But it is leisurely work. It is the kind of work that can be savored and enjoyed most of the time. It is the kind of work that can be accomplished through play. It is not the work we do to survive.

Sure there will be times of frustration when a child does not understand something or remember something as quickly or easily as they would like. But that is just a small annoyance against the beautiful backdrop that is school. They meet with similar frustration even when they are engaged in unstructured play.

Now, you may think I am a pontificating crazy lady. School isn’t beautiful, you argue. You wish we could just take the word school out of homeschooling. Because you think school sucks.

Ah, but schooling ought to be beautiful. And it is your job, mom and teacher, to make it so. Because you are the leader of your homeschool. You have no one, no thing, and no system to blame if your school is not beautiful. Of course, you can blame the curriculum. You can blame it for having an unrealistic schedule. You can blame it for not being fun or beautiful. You can blame it, in fact, for all of your homeschooling problems.

But switching curriculum seldom solves all your homeschooling problems. Nor does dumping the school out of your homeschool.

Learning is not always easy, it requires effort. Your child will not always feel like doing it. Leisure is not succumbing to an effortless, vegetative state. It is an active state.

There are many ways in which leisure, learning, and play are obviously linked. For example, reading a great story aloud to your kids. A trip to the zoo. Baking anything. Those things all require effort, but we do them because we enjoy them. Not because we must do them to survive.

Yes, some academic subjects require us to sit with a book of some sort and concentrate, and work out some problems or answer some questions. But that does not mean that those things cannot be done in an interesting, engaging, leisurely way.

Do you enter your learning day with a leisurely attitude instead of a ‘let’s get this learning over with’ attitude?

Teacher, your attitude is magic. Wake up every day being grateful and glad that you get to do this amazing leisurely school-play thing with your kids. This is a key ingredient to raising kids who love to learn.

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