Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Because Alexandra and Larissa have winter break and are home from school, this is a challenging week in our household. What do I do with Jacob, the only one of my children whom I’ve transitioned to homeschooling thus far?

Giving a complete week off with no work for a 15-year-old boy would not be a good idea. I already learned what kind of trouble he can get into. Granted, I’ve now password-protected both my computers, and his sisters are not beneath tattling on him should he think of other mischief. But ninth grader Alexandra has a lot of homework to do over this week, so why shouldn’t tenth grader Jacob also have work?

I opted to give Jacob a list of assignments for the week instead of the usual daily tasks that I’ve been giving him to complete. When he’s done with the week’s work, he is done. But he has to work on something each day. His choice of what.

Since I’m only one month into homeschooling, I’m still feeling things out. Because of my personality, I like structure. Lists. Schedules. Due dates. I feel this builds responsibility. In my job as a technical writer, I have due dates. Deadlines. I can’t complete a job whenever I feel like it. But, on the other hand, I don’t have daily lists of tasks. I have a deadline, but I can complete my work earlier. Some tasks I can push back. So… rigidity or flexibility? Some of each I believe is best.

One of the assignments Jacob must complete this week is to finish reading Lords of the Earth by Don Richardson who was a missionary to Irian Jaya. The book is about a fellow missionary, though. I chose this book because it’s suspenseful, gripping, and well-written. I can’t praise the book enough. After I read it two years ago, I purchased multiple copies and gave them away. In fact, my own copy is missing, lent out to someone, so I had to buy another one for Jacob to read.

But Jacob doesn’t like to read. He has complained to me in the past few weeks that I’ve pushed him too much, given him too many chapters to read. “They never gave me a chapter or two to read per day in school!” he whined. “They gave me several days to read that much. Or a week. I can’t do it. I don’t like to read. I’m too slow to read that much!” I would listen, tell him to do his best, but I did not relent. I had the daily quotas and deadlines, which included writing summaries of each part (the book is divided into four parts). So he read. Grudgingly. In addition, he had to read all his textbooks. He was not a happy guy.

“Did you get to the plane crash yet?” I asked a couple of nights ago.

“Plane crash?”

Oops, I realized I’d inadvertently given away part of the book.

“Who crashes?”

“You’ll have to read about it.”

“Are they looking for Stan?”

“Maybe.” I couldn’t remember, but I didn’t think so.

“You know the part where the tribesmen are tracking Stan?” Jacob asked. We went on to discuss the Yali customs, beliefs, fetishes. He actually wanted to discuss the book. He even seemed to want to read on. And for Jacob, this is really something.

This morning I noticed that Jacob was not up and about at his usual time. “I was up until midnight reading,” he yawned.

And that was without any pushing at all.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Ahhh! Sweet success!

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)