When it is my time to leave this world, I might regret some things, but one thing I won’t regret is making the decision to become a stay-at-home dad and home-school my daughter Kaci from 2000 to 2008.
The first thing everyone asks when you are going to home-school is, “What about socialization?” I was so sick of answering that. It wasn’t like my wife and I were raising Kaci in a compound or underground bunker. There was church, city league sports, theater and other opportunities for that.
I was never snobbish about home schooling or anti-public schools. It was just the best option for us at the time. My daughter later went to a private school and has been in public school, Buckingham Charter Magnet High School, for her high school years.
The hard part of teaching was not obtaining educational resources, but wading through the many choices that were available. I believe in hands-on learning so we made projects and went on field trips to reinforce units of study in different and usually fun ways.
The Phonics Game helped tremendously when it came to reading. Flash cards and educational TV shows like “Reading Rainbow” and nature shows helped, too. We also lived at the Solano County Library.
Notable home schooling memories include:
Ancient Egypt: Visiting the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose made that unit come to life. Also, I had Kaci mummify her Barbie with toilet paper.
Ancient Rome: We built a Roman road with Legos and then situated Elmo, C3PO and other toys as spectators in the Coliseum to watch a battle to the death. Well, actually the combatants were Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots.
The Coliseum battle scenes in the film “Gladiator” were too violent, so I instead showed Kaci a similar scene from “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.”
She and I also fashioned weapons out of cardboard and foil, then battled. My gladiator name was Gluteus Maximus. I lost the match to Kaci and my appeal to the ancient Roman crowd (my brothers Kelvin and Scott) resulted in two thumbs down.
Art: My favorite activity was always arts and crafts and we would frequently paint, draw and make other artistic projects. I kept her creations in a file for a while, but decided at some point to display it on a blank wall in the garage. Over time, it grew to cover it and became known as The Great Wall of Art.
Presidents: We studied the U.S. presidents and I had her send letters to different presidential libraries. The Gerald Ford Library sent the best packet in response and it was full of nice color photos. The Richard Nixon Library’s offering was downright embarrassing. It looked like someone used a mimeograph machine. The copies were hard to read and were crooked (make your own joke).
While I loved home schooling Kaci, near the end I started to get lazy. I would often have her watch movies or use her Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing CD-ROM. Still, the movies she watched, including “12 Angry Men,” required her to write a report and her skills in that regard were phenomenal. She also can type like The Flash on Red Bull.
When my wife and I made the decision for her to go to Solano Christian Academy in sixth grade, it was partly because of my hatred of mathematics. Kaci excels at math, a trait not inherited from either parent.
In March, one of my Friday Back in the Day columns was on inspirational people. A classmate, Sara Lytton Rinelli, shared how her middle school teacher, Mr. Oren, had revolutionized how she looked at math by telling her she needed to “make friends with it.”
Well, math and I were like a couple who had been through a messy breakup and never wanted to see each other again, but had to.
Kaci took a placement test before entering Solano Christian Academy and scored well. I happily let professionals build on the foundation I had helped build.
I took Kaci’s schooling about as far as I could and helped her to learn how to learn. Fittingly, the name of our home-school was Planting Seeds.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].