Lately, the reality of home school has set in for me.
And before we go any further, let me remind you that my oldest child is only just now in kindergarten.
We are using Saxon Math along with Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool (Getting Ready and Math 1). We are taking a relaxed approach because we have two younger children in the mix and, while my kindergartner could probably do math and reading all day long, I can’t keep the younger two engaged for it. We do what we can, and we take every opportunity. Like, “We have 10 gummies and 3 children. How many gummies does each child get?” Then we divide them up equally. “How many are leftover?” Then we might have a little lesson on fractions. Handwriting is often enforced when we make birthday cards. Vocabulary is learned every day. We might not have formal lessons on it, but we talk about words and what they mean as we use them. For us, this just works better.
I feel the pull toward more formal teaching, but our life just does not work that way right now.
But I also have these aches: Can’t we just sit close in pajamas, arms linked, bellies still hungry, still fasting from the night. Empty, but waiting expectantly for something delicious. Something hot. Can’t we just read books without fights about who gets to turn the page? Can’t we just listen?
I can teach addition and vocabulary, but we didn’t decide to home school because we wanted to be in charge of math lessons.
And this brings me to the crux of this post: What do we (my husband and I) actually want our kids to learn in “school”?
Here’s a list I came up with, and I’m sure we’ll add to it through the years:
- to find joy
- to live thankful
- to marvel at God’s creation
- to listen to opposition while remaining steady (not erupting) in truth
- to say no to fear
- to cast out thieves
- to hear the voice of God
- to love all people
- to stand up for the weak
- to respect authority
- to make sound decisions
- to value family
- to build
These things are much harder to teach, and much harder to test. It takes time. It takes training. The answers to the questions tied up in these teachings are not so straightforward. There is no teacher’s manual, and while we teach these lessons, we are also learning them.
But we continue. And every once in a while we see that our children are learning.
Like when that song “Break every chain” comes on the radio and my kids stop everything to participate. “There is power in the name of Jesus,” they sing, “to BREAK every chain. BREAK every chain. BREAK every chain.”
Of course my destructive children love the word break more than any other here.
It’s the verb. The action. The thing that moves the sentence and gives force. (That’s a grammar lesson, guys!)
My children LOVE this song. And I know they’re not the only kids who do. Kids everywhere seem to cling to it.
To be honest, I don’t like when my kids break things. Be it glasses or toys or remotes, or the button on a pillow my diseased grandma made. But the power to break has a place. There are many things in our city, in our world, that need not remain. I know my kids are looking for these things because the library we live near is a historic school and at one flight of stairs, a chain hangs. I have no idea what it’s for, but it is probably a piece of the historic charm. My 3 year-old grabbed it one day and pulled. “BREAK every chain,” he said.
Luckily, the actual chain didn’t break, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that library came across some extra freedom that day.
Sometimes we have to start where it’s easy, where it’s natural or literal, before we can get down deep into uncovering the actual lesson.