They were especially wondering whether I'd ever consider homeschooling my daughter who is a competitive figure skater.
At one point when I lived in center city Philadelphia in the catchment area for a seriously failing public school, I had looked into homeschooling. I bought the books, joined the co-ops, engaged in the debates. I was convinced it was for us. Then we moved to the suburbs of Harrisburg and into a seriously awesome public school district. It's not perfect. But the more general complaints about learning by the bell, stunted and stilted curriculum, and turning children into mindless automatons were swept away by free violin lessons beginning in fourth grade, Chinese language class beginning in seventh grade, and fifth graders having access to seventh grade algebra lessons.
I know, right?
And while there are many positives to be gained only through homeschooling, for us the scales had tipped. Or had at least evened out.
And before anyone starts the debates, I've met just as many socially awkward kids who are homeschooled as those that are public schooled. I've met as many kids from both sources of education whose spirits have been nurtured to precocious - even endearingly obnoxious - levels of creativity. My kids have run up against public school bullies, church group bullies, homeschooled bullies, sports bullies and bullies in the grocery store. My kids also have great friends from all those groups.
So all to say, I'm bowing out of any debate.
But thinking about homeschooling a child to accommodate a sports schedule...honestly, I'm going to bow out from debate there, as well, other than to say I wouldn't discount it as being a crazy idea.
Generally - generally - I think that kids who are driven and disciplined in one area are driven and disciplined in other areas. If your kid is working hard enough at figure skating to progress and test or compete well, then he/she is probably the kind of kid who will work hard at academics as well (even though grudgingly at times.) This isn't to say that some kids aren't pulled out of school for pie-in-the-sky reasons ("Six-year-old Sally landed a toe loop and placed first at Little Fish Rink's Basic Skills Competition. A lot of parents tell me she's Olympic material!")
(Nothing against Little Fish Rink. It could be the best place for a low-stress learning and practice experience. But if competitive skating beyond smaller competitions becomes a longer-term goal, I think one has to be realistic about what's going on at Big Dog Rink, as well. )
But even in this case, I'd worry less about the homeschooling and more about what will happen if the pie doesn't pan out for Sally as quickly or as easily as mom or dad had anticipated.
All that said, I do often wonder whether just figure skating in and of itself doesn't offer a fairly decent core curriculum education.
Sure, a kid may not learn Chinese or get violin lessons.
On the other hand, hang around skating rinks enough and you're bound to pick up some Russian (if only as relates to yelling at kids to point their toes and snap their axels). And the other day, my daughter and her friend asked me to turn up the classical music station in the car because the song playing might contain the dynamics for a good long program music choice.
My first reaction was "Pffffttt. Geeks."
(I promise, I said it in my head.)
But then I thought, "Cool!" And even "Nifty!" And "Hmmmm, I don't remember having had the slightest interest in classical music as a kid, even during eight painful years of piano lessons."
Although, I think I did later buy the soundtrack to Clockwork Orange. Not that I encourage this.
So what this is all leading up to is my idea for the Figure Skating Homeschool Curriculum.
I think it could work. Almost seriously, I think it could work.
I'm kinda not kidding.
Anyway, I've created an end-of-year survey test. See what you think.
FIGURE SKATING HOMESCHOOL TEST
It may need a bit of tweaking and additions because it's heavily biased toward pre-teen female singles skaters.
Pay attention! School's in session!