For the most part, I know that we are doing what is right for our family, in homeschooling, but now, when the school supply lists are up at the stores and talk has turned to new teachers, new backpacks, and big yellow busses – to ride or not to ride? – I wonder if we are robbing them of the joys of paste and laminated things.
Everyone around us is scurrying to get in their last vacations, soaking up the sun and swimming their hearts out before the school year has begun. When it does, we feel, in some ways like the Tuck family. We stay where we are while the rest of the world changes around us.
Of course, I know that we don’t actually stay static, we change with the seasons too, but in less dramatic ways. Our shifts are slow and subtle. We swim less, gradually, and then one day we forget where our swimsuits reside.
The books that we read change. The Bee Tree, Night of the Moonjellies, Blueberries for Sal and the Relatives Came give way to Leaf Man, Cranberry Thanksgiving, The Apple Pie That Papa Baked and The Lonely Scarecrow
The things that we eat change. A quick bite of toast before running off to swing and slide under the trees evolves into lingering tales over spice muffins and apple butter. Mmmm can you smell them? Little boys go skidding across the kitchen in socks to stand with their rumps against the cooling oven door.
The places that we go change, from lake and river to woodland walks, camping trips and pumpkin patches. Lying on picnic blankets outdoors is replaced by snuggling under quilts well past any hour that could be called “decent”.
These things are wonderful, but not as tangible as the beginning of a traditional schooling year- you don’t hold a list of supplies in hand, or mark a date on your calendar. You just live and question, and see what adventures come your way.
We have, over the course of the last two years, studied so many fun thematic units – chocolate, pirates, apples, arctic animals and culture, bugs and simple machines to name a few. We have more than one math curriculum, a few different sets of readers, handwriting practice booklets, history books, science experiment books and gobs of ideas for art projects. Though, while all of those things had value, and some were riotously fun and engaging, we found that some of the best days are the ones that I didn’t plan, where things came together just right, of their own accord – days like today.
It started weeks ago, when I found a wooden dinosaur skeleton kit at Goodwill and tucked it away for the right occassion.
Monday we went to a birthday party, and were given plastic dinosaurs as favors.
Tuesday we visited a river where dinosaurs left tracks thousands of years ago.
Today, enough drops in the bucket caused an overflow of questions. We dove into our dinosaur books, built the model, drew dinoaurs, froze some in ice and chisled them out as archaeologists would (thanks so much Kristin for the idea). We wondered, imagined and learned. There was no paste involved (but I’m hatching ways to need it). No textbooks. No agenda. I have no idea if they will remember the facts that they learned about dinosaurs, but I know this, they have learned that when something interests you (or even if it doesn’t), there are a million and one different ways to look at it. There are ways to dig deeper and learn more.
On days like today I feel so blessed to get front row seats to their learning journeys. I love that I get to be there to see the lights go on. I hope that when it is their turn to look back and pass judgement on their raising, that they will see it as we do, a time of wonder.