Time of Wonder

by Stefani on 15-August-2007

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.


Visty August 16, 2007 at 12:32 am

What a great post! It’s the same in our house this year.

dana August 16, 2007 at 4:59 am

I love the way that you see the world. I love that you slow down with your kids and allow them to guide you in your guidance of them. I love that you love your kids deeply. I love that reading your posts are inspiring.

Sarah Jackson August 16, 2007 at 5:46 am

Beautifully put. There is a lot of excitement that surrounds the beginning of the school year, but there’s a loss too. I’ve been spending my days looking at the clock wondering what they’re doing now. And now. And what about now? I do think that what you’re doing is more connected to they way things have historically been – a slow change from season to season and a constancy of learning that you lose when “school” starts and stops. I wish I were doing it your way, my friend. Maybe next year.

erin August 16, 2007 at 6:30 am

i really love your approach to learning, stefani.

brit August 16, 2007 at 6:36 am

I’m terrified of homeschooling, of not being enough for my boys of not being able to stimulate their little minds of not being out to create this excitement, but at the same time I know I’m afraid of losing myself in them of waking up ten years from now and not remembering who I am outside of them.

I think that is the same fear I had when I first left my job something I have never once regretted.

Everything is slower when you are ome and maybe more focused.

And more wonderful…..I think

kari August 16, 2007 at 7:54 am

Isn’t if fun when they catch the bug and want to know everything they can about something? For one on my sons it was planes, we visited every plane museum we found, sat and watched them take off and land, built every model plane we could afford! I just wish they found math and handwriting as exciting!

Molly August 16, 2007 at 8:06 am

Yesterday was the first day of school in these parts. I woke up in a tent in the mountains with a nervous stomach, wondering if we were doing the right thing with homeschooling. But this morning, as I watch the neighbors scramble off before 8AM, and we are in our pajamas, reading books, planning a trip to a candy factory this afternoon, and wondering which beach we will go to tomorrow, my nerves are calm and my heart is warm. I think what we are doing is right for us, right now.

mountain mama August 16, 2007 at 8:56 am

I loved this post!! This is will be my first year homeschooling my Oldest and I am half nervous and half excited. But I know that it will be easier than I make it out to be, because we wouldnt have gotten this far if I didnt feel it was the right thing to do.

Heather August 16, 2007 at 2:07 pm

You are a beautiful writer and I’ve always enjoy our differences and similarities. My story is different… my daughter started Montessori today. It was the beginning of an adventure for us, not earmarked by the list of school supplies. Our life is still filled with nature and wonder, and I did not feel part of a chaotic machine. I will still share in many teachable moments… she is my daughter. I know in my heart of hearts that she needs other adult teachers outside of me and her dad. It was the most amazing thing… this morning her pet snake shed it’s skin. She took this and the huge dead blue butterfly that she found (also this morn) to school. It was her first true interaction with her teacher. It was magic… they marvelled over her precious gems together and later shared them with the class. I left her there this morning knowing that our choice was the most “right” thing we could do for her. As parents, and mothers, so many of us are incredible and the different ways that we do things just enriches this world.

Leigh-Ann August 16, 2007 at 4:08 pm

you’re redefining learning, and i love it. LOVE IT!!!! (that was for you 😉

Stefani August 16, 2007 at 4:20 pm

I just wanted to say to all the Mamas here, that each of you is so inspiring. I can see, so clearly everyday in your own posts and in your comments here, that you are all so dedicated to your little ones.

I’m always conscious that what’s good for us is not the only worthy path. I know that we are all feeling our way around, trying desperately to be and do all we can for the most important people in our worlds. I hope that when you come here you always leave with encouragement and well wishes for whatever road you’re taking.

Thank you guys, for all your inspiration and for sharing your lives and ideas!

Anne August 16, 2007 at 4:26 pm

This was a nice post to read for someone who is considering homeschooling next year. As a child, I would have loved to stay home and build dinosaurs with my mom, instead of losing my milk money at school.

kristin August 16, 2007 at 6:42 pm

right on…blessings and wonder to you…

miguette August 16, 2007 at 8:57 pm

That was beautiful. I truly commend you on your choices. It takes a certain kind of parent to homeschool. I can’t say if I am that kind of mom, but from this post I can see that you were meant for this. Every moment is an opportunity to learn and you take advantage of that. What a fantastic example you are.

shula August 17, 2007 at 6:41 pm

You’re amazing.

Hats off to you.

Tara August 18, 2007 at 7:20 pm

If you ever want to be reassured that you’re doing the right thing by homeschooling, read “What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?” I’m reading it right now and as a teacher’s aide and a teacher in training, it puts me in the odd place of not knowing what to do when my daughter becomes school-aged.

heather August 20, 2007 at 9:30 am

this was really wonderful to read. we are starting homeschoolong this year after 5 years of montessori. the time feels right, your post feels inspiring. thank you.

dianeinjapan August 23, 2007 at 12:58 am

Lovely, lovely post! And you know, that whole “first day of school” fun and newness thing wears off pretty darned fast–I remember…

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