Deb Adamson: Even distractions can help children learn

Deb Adamson

Here in our home school, the learning chugs along best with a daily routine. Zach knows what to expect and what’s expected of him -- after all, I’ve got it printed in ink and posted on the refrigerator. 

But even when it’s scribbled in black and white, it’s hardly enough to guarantee order, and it’s simply not real life all the time.

Intermittently and without warning, major curve-balls come crashing through my structured system, setting off a domino effect of school days just faltering and succumbing to whatever it is that demands attention that day; basically, life in general.

Last week, Zach’s grandmother arrived here from her Georgia home; after the death of my father-in-law this past January, the move is a sad and major upheaval for her. Her car brimming with the few belongings she brought for her short stay with us -- until she buys a home of her own -- she now temporarily inhabits the upstairs guest bedroom.

She is an unassuming, easy houseguest, but her mere presence in the house is, for Zach, a very pleasant distraction from sometimes mundane daily school tasks.

Just hearing her feet descending the stairs can set off a flurry of excuses as to why he cannot sit quietly at his math lesson calculating how much Jenny pays for five stocking caps when each one costs $3.

Squirming and sighing, he hops up from his assignments and engages Grammy in a whirlwind of good-mornings and warm greetings, inquiries into whether breakfast will include muffins or oatmeal, and gee, wouldn’t she like to peruse the coins she brought, after all, he already added them to his newly-organized collection.

Cajoling and kvetching, I try in vain to reel him back in. No use. He’s gone. But really it’s OK. Judging from the sparkle in both of their eyes, these are poignant family moments that heal and uplift. 

Home schooling is not all about reading, writing and arithmetic. It is about creating a life style peppered with the values and philosophies we want our children to live. This life-teaching happens in ways that are subtle and meaningful; bonding and creating memories with loved ones who share time with us only fleetingly.

Deb Adamson, who lives in Connecticut, is a home school mom who writes about the joys, trials and adventures of days teaching and learning with her 7-year-old son. She can be reached at