In recent months, the adventure of homeschooling our daughters has been a wild one. Many times, the young girls are at odds with their parents/teachers. Often, we two married teachers are at odds with each other on approaches to guiding the little ones. Frequently, throughout the day, our students too are quarreling with each other over some dramatic issue.
We ask ourselves constantly ~ is homeschooling the right path for our family? Are we really helping to provide our daughters with a well-rounded life learning experience?
Today, shortly after dawn, while out in the back yard feeding the chickens, my eldest daughter managed to witness our hen Bella laying an egg. The excited child ran inside with the prize, banging on the bathroom door as I trimmed my beard, rushing in to tell me all about the experience. For weeks we have collected eggs from our new chickens, but today ~ seeing the egg drop ~ was quite an exciting moment for our six-year-old.
A few hours later, our daughters helped clean the house in anticipation of their grandparent’s arrival, en route from Colorado to spend the weekend with us. We all scrubbed, mopped and vacuumed in various corners of the house like a well oiled machine. Even out little 3-year-old was sweeping up a storm around the rabbit’s indoor hutch down in the work-room.
At lunch, the girls pressured me into making grilled cheese sandwiches then after only a few bites, pushed their plates away saying they were full. Launching into a passionate ten minute sermon on wastefulness, my tone and temper even put goose bumps on my own arms. Shortly after sulking out of the kitchen, the girls returned of their own free will ~ wiping their tears and asking to finish their meal. My heart melted as I reheated the sandwiches and agreed to eat their crusts.
In mid afternoon, a new skiff of wet snow was slowing down traffic en route to the charity shop where we planned to donate some unused household items and clothes we’d gathered up. Near the shop, a car was stalled dead in the centre of a four lane street ~ with traffic skidding past and frustrated drivers honking obnoxiously. My daughters and I pulled into a nearby parking lot and, with their moral support, I helped the man push his car off the street. You would have thought I was snow-covered Superman himself when I got back to our jeep. “How did you push that car!” they demanded to know. Wishing I could tell them I had super human powers so they’d think me their hero for life, instead I explained about what happens when you put a car into neutral ~ how easy it is to push while someone else steers. Then, I added a few lines about how important it is to help others in need. “One day, we might be in trouble and if someone rushes in to help us, imagine how happy we’ll be.”
At sunset, my daughters came home from their friend’s house down the street, seeming somewhat dejected. When prodded as to what the problem was, they explained how, on their walk home, they had passed a beautiful house with all of its outdoor Christmas lights on. They were inspired to go up to the door, ring the bell and tell the homeowner how pretty their house looked. Sadly, the home owner just muttered a “thank you” at them sharply and slammed the door in their faces. As we ate dinner, we discussed why sometimes people react so strangely to kindness and, extremely proud of my daughters, I encouraged them to not be put off from ever doing such a sweet thing again. The lights on the outside of the house are still beautiful and brighten the street for everybody, even if the homeowner’s spirit is somewhat dim.
By evening we were at the airport awaiting the arrival of my in-law’s. A middle-aged lady came through the arrival gate and walked up to a young man seated in the waiting area. With great excitement in her voice she said “Hello!” The young man ~ who seemed to be her son ~ looked up from his mobile device and simply said, “Hey.” then put his head down again and went back to texting. More words of greeting were offered and each time the young fellow simply responded with monotone, one word answers ~ preoccupied with the text he was composing.
Of her own accord, my daughter raised the issue of what she had observed with my in-law’s once they arrived. “The strangest thing happened,” she told her grandmother, “A young man was there at the airport to meet this older lady…I think it was his mom…and when she came through the gate he didn’t even speak to her or get up and hug her. He only seemed to care about his cell phone!”.
Tending to some dishes in the kitchen before bed, I told my spouse, fellow teacher and best friend, “Today our girl’s lived a life, few other kids their age probably lived. From sun up to sun down ~ they saw, learned and did incredible things. Things they could have never experienced ~ things our family could have never experienced ~ if we did not choose to home school.”
We may look back in 20 years and say to ourselves, “What were we thinking by trying to tackle homeschooling!?” But tonight ~ I feel confident about the path.
More and more, it seems to me that, our job is not to “teach”, but to simply provide an environment for our daughters where they may learn constantly from everything around them. “That would happen in a school too,” many would argue. True, but at home… with our family all together…I can tell you this: I am learning just as much as they are about life, and it is wonderful! Hope I get to see Bella lay an egg soon too!
Here’s to a new beginning. New blogs, new hope and new adventures for the year ahead.