January 13, 2012

Remind Yourself What the List and Lesson Plan Don't Know

This is why I have to use Homeschool Tracker - my lists become unreadable.
::low-tech lesson planning::

I snuck out of bed early today so I could squeeze in a blog post. I snuck out of the warm covers and left behind two snuggly little boys, a protesting long-haired kitty-cat, and the soft glow of a baby monitor.

Daddy, who is always just a little too noisy in the morning, was downstairs trying to enjoy his coffee at 5:15am. "I'm going to be late. I have to take it on the road today."

I handed him his travel mug and noted how the dishes hadn't been done by my hopeful twelve year old that promised she would do them at 4:30am (and set her alarm) if I would just let her draw for an hour last night after the babies went to bed... in peace.

I used the already dirty pan that daddy used to cook his eggs to make mine. And two slices of bacon. Both at the same time. We take as many short cuts as we can around here.

I ate in silence, making a mental note of all the things that must be accomplished today. A gentle nudge from the Spirit reminded me that I should pray for my meal; the first reminder of the day to be present in this moment and not stuck in list mode.

I thanked him for bacon... eggs... milk... prayed that our day would be better today. Less fighting, less struggle, less difficulty. Let us do better. Give us success.

Many years of catching the bus, going to school, fighting the traffic, punching the clock... and I still struggle with laying down the list and choosing to enjoy life when there are items left unchecked.

Yesterday before bed I noticed that both of my kids were doing something "educational". One was drawing (even though art was not on her assignment sheet for the day), and the other one was watching a movie about sea creatures (even though he had already finished his assigned science reading). I pondered over how strange it is that I am unwilling to call it school if it doesn't look like my institutionalized upbringing - straight back children in neat rows with hands raised high for attention. Even in my own "classroom" of two, I have a hard time acknowledging out-of-the-box checks on our syllabus. It is so hard to recognize true learning as it takes place - this thing we call life - because it is such a natural phenomenon.

At lunch yesterday there was a quiz. My nearly fifteen year old thought he had me stumped. "What are dermal denticles?"

I drew on my vague understanding of Latin, and my greater knowledge of his interests - which are all things scientific and found in nature. "Well, derma - skin? And denti - teeth?"

"Yeah, but on what?" He smiled, knowing I was caught.

"I give up."

He proceeded to tell me the story of a shark's "skin" - which is not scales, but tiny linked teeth that provide a body armor, reduce drag and turbulence, and help him hunt quietly.

Who knows when he learned this about sharks, but I wasn't the one who taught it to him. It didn't go on any lesson plan. There were no check marks, no grades, no records made.

It was simply a boy with an interest - feeding his mind full of the wonder of God's creation. And it stuck. It gave him interesting small talk at lunch and he marveled at how cool God was to design such amazing creatures.

I can't take credit for that, folks. I might have scoffed at unschooling in the past, but sometimes I wonder if God made me in to an unschooler just to humble my little classroom-teacher-style heart.

Sometimes I have people ask me how in the world I "get it all done" with babies in the house. I don't. Sometimes they ask me how in the world I have the patience to homeschool. I don't. I'm just as frazzled and tired and impatient as the lot of them.

Reading the dictionary. Just like his mama used to do. #ilovewords #incourage
::caught reading the dictionary::

However, even I, the one who is chained to her to-do list, can see the miracle in a year's worth of unscripted learning turning in to passed tests that we did not study for. I can see the beauty in my kids being passionate about their God-given interests. I can SEE them... every day... watch them unfold like roses. Here today, growing, blooming... I can't imagine sending that bouquet away to someone else's table.

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.  ~Mark Twain

So I'll keep adding the little miracle "assignments" to my school list each day so my conformist mind can rise above the urge to think we "didn't get much done": discussion about shark skin, educational movie about ocean creatures, research and practice Manga drawing styles, lettering difficult piano music and practicing, baking chocolate chip cookies without help...

I'm so proud of them. I couldn't keep them from learning if I tried.

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Kentucky Homeschooler said...

Great Post! As a homeschooler of five kids myself I often wonder the same thing "how it all gets done" I hope you enjoy a good HS day. Be blessed.

Darlene Hull said...

I am also a type A, 4th gen public school teacher who learned the joys of unschooling against my will. Brilliant. My two teenagers (18 and 17) can't help learning, and have taught themselves much more than I ever did through their lessons. The more I interfered, the less they learned.

Brilliant, terrifying journey, this. Isn't it?

e-Expeditions said...

I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

dmauton said...

I love how it all comes together. I love when kids find their interests. And they learn through the process. Love it. :)

H-Mama said...

great post, heather. a much needed read for me. so many days the list of what i'm not {seemingly} doing outweighs the check-list of accomplished tasks.

Susan Evans said...

I too am list-driven, and God has been teaching me to live more in the moment with homeschooling.

Stacy said...

I often struggle to see these moments too. It seems that most of the time the best learning has come from things that were not on my list.

My daughter is constantly writing. I don't know how many times I've told her to stop that writing so she could do the school I have planned. Oi!

Just this week I am beginning to record these "extra" things. I think it's going to help me see more clearly (and feel a little more accomplished).

Bless you for getting out of your warm bed this morning!

The Community Co-op said...

Ah, the wonders of the "To Do" list! We use a chalkboard, and the best part is that it is easily modifiable with a simple smudge of the finger. Case in point, yesterday's "World War II" topical study, quickly turned into "Backyard Snowball Fight" at the first sign of snow. Go figure. Thanks for sharing!

The Community Co-op

Adelina said...

read through your last 2 postings-you are inspiring, and most of all- honest. Honest to yourself and others. I have run into homeschool blogs that made me feel like everyone else has 32 hr/day...if it is too good to be true, then it is. Enjoy every minute of it and let the rest just unfold! and you are right on it!

Tom Blubaugh said...

Great post. I missed all of the kind of interaction in my home as a child and as a parent. Had I have experienced it, maybe I would have been able to tell my parents that I was being sexually molested by a member of the clergy. I didn't so I wasn't and I was a felon at age 15. I didn't know about homeschooling until my children were on their own. Having the healthy relationships you have with your children is a priceless gift.


Tom Blubaugh, Author
Night of the Cossack



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