Monday, October 22, 2007

Adventures in Carschooling

I have always viewed this as a twisted concept, a sad affirmation of all that has gone askew in our fast-paced, overscheduled lives. Well, having given the matter some thought, I am now prepared to admit that there may be some merit to the idea of having children do schoolwork in the car.

Think about it. What is the most difficult thing about getting children to do their workbooks? In my experience, the first difficulty is getting them to actually sit down and start, followed closely by getting them to continue until they are finished. Well, when they're confined in their car seats, there's not too much controversy about whether or not they have urgent business in another location. And they're not really going anywhere outside the car until we've gotten to our destination. Voila! Two difficulties overcome right off the bat.

I'm not really saying I think they should crack the books every time we take a five-minute jaunt to the store or the library. But if we're looking at 45 minutes or more in the car, then, yeah, getting some schoolwork in makes sense. So today, faced with the 2 to 21/2 hour drive up to Santa Rosa where my dad lives, we initiated our carschooling venture. My instructions to them, "I will play the Suzuki guitar CD. For the duration of this CD, you will be working on your math workbooks. When it's done, you can stop. We will do this three times on the way to Grandpa's house, and when we get there I'm going to check your work."

Overall it went pretty well, but being the crazy iconoclasts that we are, we didn't follow the plan exactly. Instead, Ziad and I ended up having an extended discussion of his word problems that went well beyond the allotted time. Have you ever tried to do word problems in your head that a 9 year old boy is reading to you? Some of them were fine, but there were a few moments when I thought my head was going to explode. On the way home, Maya needed help figuring out her spelling sentences. That was fun for all of us.

I know that one good experience is no guarantee of future good experiences. But frankly, regardless of how any of us feel about their working in the car, the fact is I needed to come up with some time in their schedule when they could get some book-learning in, and this seemed like the most obvious way to do it. And the other good thing is, in the car they're sitting down anyway. That may sound like exactly what I said above, but what I mean this time is -- they have to be sitting down. I don't have to feel bad that I'm not letting them play in the yard, or stare at a tree, or have a tea party with stuffed animals. This is time that they could not be doing something else that might possibly be better. They are even free to pursue their normal car activities (reading, origami, puzzle games) in the non-work intervals, which were actual the bulk of our car time today.

Carschooling. I really am a Silicon Valley mom.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Vivian said...

This sounds like a lot of fun, and very effective. Too bad my family all get car sick, so we end up doing a lot of listening -- music, audio books, radio shows.

4:09 PM  
Blogger zelda said...

Doing French in the car has proven to be too much juggling. Now we're listening to books and classical music cd's geared toward kids...from the sublime to the silly.

I think there's a lot to be said for having down time in the car, I know I did some of my best thinking there as a kid, but I also think kids spend more time in the car than we used to. Might as well do something with it.

10:39 PM  
Blogger Lesley said...

Andrew & Audrey did their vacation homework packs on the return drive from LA. 6 hours trapped in a car...they had no choice.

2:35 PM  

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