Yesterday was the stuff homeschool dreams are made of.
The kids woke up to a clipboard prepped with a week’s worth of assignments.
We ate breakfast together and then they all worked independently on tasks of their choice while I did my own chores. Elle worked on her personal progress and Croft read her scriptures. Crew locked himself in the bathroom with a book, pillow and blanket. After all, the heat had just come on and the bathroom vent cranks out the best heat.
All three kids approached me at different times for a hug.
They brought up their laundry baskets and sorted their dirty clothes. They each helped at some point during the day to move a load through the laundry and sort the clean clothes.
Our current read aloud, Maniac McGee, warms my heart and makes us laugh and cry. I think I have choked up 3 reads in a row now.
We read, “He [Maniac] loved the silence and the solitude. But he loved the noise that came later in the day. He loved the sound of pancake batter hissing on the griddle. He loved the noise of the church called Bethany.” (pg. 50-51) The kids and I talked about how a good life isn’t just in Disneyland or Christmas or summer vacation. It isn’t in the big events. A good life is in the every day, ordinary things. It’s in the sound of pancake batter hissing on the griddle.
The next page facilitated a discussion on race and labels. “For the life of him, he [Maniac] couldn’t figure why these East Enders called themselves black. He kept looking and looking, and the colors he found were gingersnap and light fudge and dark fudge and acorn and butter rum and cinnamon and burnt orange. But never licorice, which, to him, was real black.” We recognized that we are not black and white, but a spectrum of people with a variety of personalities, hopes, dreams and fears.
We made predictions, asked questions, and made connections as we read. I day dreamed for a split second about buying this book for my grandchildren because I love it that much.
At the end of a chapter, we went our separate ways.
Elle worked on the family newsletter that she puts out once a month for my husband’s side of the family.
Croft wrote her spelling words 5 times each.
Crew snuggled next to me with his legs sprawled across my lap while he did his math with Kahn Academy. At one point our heads were resting on each other’s as I explained the associative property of multiplication to him. I appreciated that, although he was a bit under the weather, he could continue to do his work in his pajamas.
Later Crew wanted to make lunch for his life skill. He had been working on a creamy macaroni from scratch recipe. Since he had to double the recipe, we solved 1 1/4 + 1 1/4 and 1/3 + 1/3. He boiled water, grated cheese, and gathered and measured ingredients. He was so proud of his work. As his brother and sisters ate their meals, he anxiously waited for feedback. “Isn’t it SO good?” he asked.
After lunch, the kids worked on more assignments like math and grammar while I cleaned up lunch and kept the laundry going.
Then we headed outside. It had been snowing all day long and I wanted to respond to the beauty and opportunity of that day. It is a rare day where the snowflakes are huge and relentless. We couldn’t miss it for traditional school work. Plus I wanted us to shovel the driveway for my husband because I knew he had an early morning and busy week ahead.
The kids all pitched in on the shoveling. The younger kids had small shovels; Crew borrowed one from the neighbors, and we all worked together to clear the driveway. The snow was wet and heavy so it took us a while, but we did it.
Next the kids started to work together on a snowman. They talked and schemed and corroborated and started to roll the snow. But then I saw my pregnant neighbor shoveling her driveway, so I called to the kids to come help. They reluctantly left their snowman in embryo and trudged over to the neighbors, but we all helped to clear her driveway. I was happy that we could spontaneously meet a need.
The kids went back to their snowman creation as soon as they could, and I kept working on our driveway. Most of the snow was gone, but I was bound and determined to get all the slush off too.
They called me over when they needed to get the mid-section on the bottom ball. We struggled for a bit and then we came up with the idea of an inclined plane. (Can you say Science?) I let them fish around in the garage and Crew came out with a 2×4. We tried that but it proved to be too narrow, so I let them struggle and argue a bit to find what would work best. In the end we tried a card table as our inclined plane. We worked together and pushed that heavy, wet snowball up and up, until it could rest on the base. It was a great lesson in team work and simple machines.
The next task was to dress the guy. Elle used a small saw to cut some branches off our Christmas tree; Croft grabbed a carrot and Crew decked the guy out in all his clothes. They were so proud of their snowman.
We came in from our snow / service / science lesson and Elle made everyone hot chocolate. She had to figure out how to 4 times the recipe. Croft arranged everyone’s snow gear so it could dry. We ate left over homemade chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate for after-school snack. And then they got back to work on their clipboards.
Now we didn’t get as much school work done on a Monday as we normally would have. We tilted towards snow instead. We got outside. We served and played and had spontaneous science lesson on simple machines. It is difficult to measure what was actually learned. But over the course of the day I saw time management, independence, discussion, collaboration, problem solving, discovery based learning, life skills, practical math, inference, reading, memorization, and service. Not to mention the traditional learning that took place as they finished their assignments.
I wish I could say all homeschool days are dreamy like this, but they’re not. Unfortunately, there is sometimes more yelling and less fun. There may be fighting and procrastinating. Sometimes learning isn’t practical or applicable at all. Sometimes we never leave the house.
BUT yesterday was different. And I write about this dreamy day because yesterday reminded me what is possible. It reminded me we are making progress. It reminded me to not give up. It reminded me not to worry- there was nothing that happened at school that was better than what we did together. It reminded me of my true priorities. It reminded me to stay focused. It reminded me that learning can happen anywhere. Yesterday reminded me that homeschooling is exactly what I want to be doing at this time in my kids’ lives.