Last night Elazar (age 6) and I got onto the subject of Rodef. We were talking about hashavas aveida, the mitzva of returning a lost object. I asked him what he thought about returning something his enemy lost. He thought he wouldn't have to. I said he actually does have to. Elazar was surprised: "But if I return it, then my enemy will be able to kill me!" Good point. I explained I meant an enemy as someone he didn't like and didn't like him. His idea of enemy is apparently somebody who is trying to kill you. That got us onto rodef, and I explained that when someone is trying to kill you it's a mitzva to kill him first. I knew he would love that and he did. He sat there for a while, constructing various scenarios. "Like if he is trying to kill me with a lightsaber, and I have a lightsaber, then I should go like this first" *SLASH*. "Or if he has a sword" "Or if he has a gun" "Or if he has a knife." He was working them all out. Then he asked what if the enemy doesn't have a weapon. I said if he can't kill you, then you can't kill him first. But then I throttled him to show that even bare handed people can kill. He quite enjoyed that and then began scenarios of uneven weapons.
He really enjoyed this conversation and thinking about it and talking about it. Afterwards I was thinking that if he were in school, he wouldn't really have the time to pursue those thoughts. He'd be expected to follow along with the class. At best he would be distracted and daydreaming. At worst he would be criticized for it. Part of the enjoyment of learning is really relating to it and imagining how it plays out.
With my girls, I always felt they would have been okay in school and homeschooling was just a personal choice. In general I think that young children are not given enough play time or free time and have to sit too long. But with Elazar it's more than a preference or lifestyle choice. I'm so relieved that he's a happy little boy, pursuing his interests, being energetic, playing and learning, and not in a daily situation where there would be requirements and demands that would cause him intellectual and emotional anguish. He has no idea what millions of six year old boys do every day, and what it would be like if he had to cope with it.
Every year he grows in maturity and self control. If he ever decides to pursue mainstream education, I'm sure he will be capable of it. And if not, he won't realize that it's something he's "supposed" to fit into. He won't be frustrated and feel bad about himself because he finds sitting for hours and passively listening and being told what to think about and for how long incredibly boring.