Dear Gabby: Homeschool, Wills and Hobbies

The Gabber’s semi-regular advice column, Dear Gabby, is here by reader demand. Have a question or a conundrum for Gabby? There’s no problem too small for your resident advisor. Send your questions – they can be anonymous – to [email protected]. 

I have been homeschooling my 8-year-old son since the pandemic began. I just don’t feel comfortable putting him back in school yet, but even with the online curriculum, I’m running out of things to keep him occupied! He’s very active and he loves to learn, especially science and art. Do you have any out-of-the-box ideas for kids doing school from home? 

One thing to try is asking your son what he’d like to do. So much of our learning is centered on curriculums and benchmarks that we forget how much learning happens when we explore everyday interests and hobbies that support curiosity and creativity. Ask your son what he’s interested in outside of formal lessons and craft activities from his answers. You might be surprised to find out that he wants to learn how to make cupcakes or has always wanted to try sculpting dinosaurs out of clay. He might even want to collect rocks from the yard or shells from the beach. You can turn any of these things into teachable moments that deliver the goods on soft skills like patience, resilience, appreciation and critical thinking.

My wife and I have no children and we recently started creating our wills. We’re still both relatively young and healthy (mid 50s), but decided that we should have a plan for our house, pets and other assets. We do have some family, but they are all older than we are and we don’t want to burden them. Without any heirs, what do you think is the best thing to do? 

First, cheers to you for thinking ahead with such generosity of spirit. I’d encourage you and your wife to think through the organizations you support or have always wanted to support. For example, you can donate property, vehicles and even entire estates to nonprofit organizations. You can always reach out the executive leadership or board of organizations you love to start that conversation, and I’m sure they’ll help you navigate the process.

I’m recently retired and I want to take up a new hobby. I’m not very musically inclined, or very artistic, but I’m open to new possibilities. I used to work 60 hour weeks, so I need something to do! Do you have any suggestions?  

What’s interesting about getting older is that even though our childhood feels further away than ever, we’re actually in a better position to deeply reflect on who we were when we were kids and what we liked to do before adulting claimed our time and energy. Guess what? You’re still you and those interests and preferences are still in there! Take some time to check in with your inner child. What did you like to do when you were a kid? What has always interested you that you’ve never had the time to explore? What have you always wanted to learn more about or try, but you feared judgment or ridicule? After working so much for so long, it’s time for you to reclaim your time and your life! I’m not retired, but I recently reconnected with one of my childhood interests: Space. I’ve been watching documentaries and recently bought myself a telescope! It felt silly at first, since being adult means connecting our interests with career goals, but I shook that idea off and made the inner 9-year-old me beam with pride! Super-corny advice in 3, 2, 1: Your time is your own now, so the sky’s the limit.

A woman with short hair and glasses smiling at the camera.
Photo courtesy of Sheree Greer.

A Milwaukee native, Sheree L. Greer is a local text-based artist, educator and taco lover. In 2014, she founded Kitchen Table Literary Arts to showcase and support the work of Black women and women of color writers and is the author of two novels, “Let the Lover Be” and “A Return to Arms.” 

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