When I was in 5th grade, I attended a public school. In that school, I took – as all the kids in my class did – a woodshop class. I can vividly remember disliking that class intensely. I didn’t want to build those little boxes, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable around the power tools, and I especially wasn’t in the mood to build those little wooden boxes that we all had to build. And, as I recall, my box fell apart before I even got it home that day. Perhaps woodshop wasn’t the class for me?
In homeschooling, we don’t try to copy everything the public school does, and I don’t want to. And so I certainly never considered adding “woodshop” to my 5th grade daughter’s homeschool curriculum. Nor do I want her to have a similar experience with power tools and wooden boxes that fall apart in about 3 hours. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little variety into the day, and I’m sure she would enjoy the break from the books. Still, I’m not really into the whole woodshop idea.
Last weekend, though, my husband took her outside to work on a birdhouse she had wanted to build. They assembled the pieces from scratch: measured, cut (with help), nailed, glued, until the pieces of wood took shape into a cute birdhouse with a perch for a bird outside the hole. Once that was done, she sanded the pieces and took her time painting it, and then added designing touches to make it her own. I was thrilled both with the time my daughter was spending with her father, and with what she had accomplished with his help.
That’s when I realized what she had done. She had done so much more than I had been able to do in that woodshop class. She had not only learned a great deal about building with my husband’s careful guidance, but she had a great memory of the experience. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling: instead of a classroom full of people you may or may not enjoy spending time with, she had the loving teaching of her dad to show her how to build this birdhouse, and that’s something she’ll remember forever. That’s much better than my memory of the box that fell apart!