A.C. Snow

Home school OK, but lacks recess – Snow

A recent newspaper article noted that more and more parents are abandoning public school for home schooling.

I’m not here to champion either form of schooling. Both have merits and demerits. Learning depends so much on who is doing the teaching, his or her ability, skills as a teacher and grasp of the subjects being taught.

But I will advocate one major plus for public schooling. It comes with recess!

Every time I’m walking near our neighborhood school during recess, I thank the powers that be for recess!

Oh yes, home schooling has “timeouts” or “breaks.” But not “recess” in the true sense of the word.

Recess was the place where I formed friendships, some lasting a lifetime. It was a time and place when boys could get down on their knees in the sand and shoot marbles.

Or drop knives. Knife dropping as a popular game is now extinct for obvious reasons, but it was a perfectly harmless diversion during my early years of public schooling.

Also, at recess a boy might sidle up to a girl and tell her how pretty her dress was or ask if she really liked Miss Hinshaw as a teacher, or if he could sit with her at lunch.

With no sex education at home or in the classroom, we learned about the “birds and the bees” at recess. For a nickel collected in advance, Lonnie, an overgrown, “held back” lad from Little Richmond, would pull out his wallet and show us a contraceptive.

Recess was the time for bathroom visits, quite often an important ritual.

My mind still travels back to that first-grade fiasco when I failed to visit the “facility” at recess.

Later in the morning, when I raised my hand for permission to be excused, the teacher shook her head in the negative. When I waved my hand frantically the second time, she still responded negatively, glaring angrily at me.

Nature has her own rules, no matter what Miss Hinshaw’s rules dictated.

The inevitable result was extremely embarrassing for all. Such psychological traumas do not occur during home schooling. Chalk up a plus for home schooling.

I should think that a major positive for home schooling would indeed be the personal one-on-one instruction from the parent.

Had we tried to home-school our two daughters, I think both girls would have run away from home and hidden under the Crabtree Creek bridge.

Also, home schooling enables a parent to dictate or at least influence the curriculum, an important criterion to some parents. It also allows parents to influence their children’s social contacts, which can be a plus or minus, depending on parents’ preference, judgment and, yes, social biases.

My two children attended, loved and flourished in the Wake County public schools.

Their mother, a veteran teacher at the high school and university level, was highly qualified for home schooling.

But had we tried to go that route, I think both girls would have run away from home and hidden under the Crabtree Creek bridge. It was not a case of parental vs children conflict. We had a harmonious home life.

But hours-long academic instruction from Mom probably would have pushed all three over the brink.

The children loved their public school teachers and also looked forward to the daily social interaction with their diverse classmates.

I asked a friend and neighbor who home-schooled her daughter for one semester to cite some pros and cons.

On the plus side, she cited the quality time spent with the daughter. More information can be covered in a shorter time when dealing with one student rather than 25.

Also, home school allows for more field trips and out-of-class learning experiences.

On the other hand, the child became restless for the companionship of friends in public or private schools. Also, she did not like the computerized programs used in the instruction.

Not surprising, an excess of “togetherness,” was troubling and problematic.

And, as noted above, there was no “recess.”

Recess, in reality, is a classroom in itself. It is there that students, especially at the elementary level, learn such essentials as how to get along with others, how to get up if knocked down, how to deal with bullies, how to wait one’s turn.

Actually, recess is where youngsters learn the elemental lessons of dealing with the many complicated aspects of living life with a kaleidoscope of human beings beyond their front door.

Snow: 919-836-5636; asnow@newsobserver.com