The traffic is busier in the mornings going to work, my Farmer tells me. School has started up again and the buses are out in full force, figuring out their routes and complicating everyone else's. I wouldn't know. I'm at home, teaching my three daughters and caring for my little son.
This is the time of year when I alternately question our decision to homeschool and rejoice that such a privilege is available to us. When you've never had the opportunity, homeschooling can look a lot like insanity. Why in the world would I trade my “freedom” for the enormous extra responsibility of teaching three students on my own? Especially when we're in such a good school district?!
Here, to remind myself as much as to inform you, is why:
~ being able to hold Spice on my lap in the middle of the morning and talk about whether the glass is half full or half empty, whether the sky is mostly sunny or mostly cloudy, and how gratitude can help train us to optimism
~ vast quantities of free time for all four, today to make ink from pokeberries (“I read about it somewhere” says Sugar) and, using quills they made from feathers they found, write notes to their friends
~ the friendships cemented between sisters and brother, caring for each other and learning to “fight nice”
~ watching Nice religiously shepherd Lil' Snip and try to practice her reading on him
~ a chance to discover, again, to learn things I missed the first time through
~ flexibility to add to the curriculum spontaneously when my Farmer spots a new mushroom species or we find a caterpillar on the flowers Grandma helped them pick
~ an intimate knowledge of creation that is only possible through constantly touching it, smelling it, hearing it, and tasting it – and the opportunity to give credit to the Creator
~ and the harder joy of sacrifice, learning not just penmanship but patience
It's not all roses, of course. If it were, there would be no need for me to write this list. We passed a bus the other day, full of small children on their way to school. Their mothers were probably shopping. Or sipping their first cup of coffee at the quiet kitchen table, musing, able to hear their own thoughts, mapping out their day till 3:30.
I was taking a meal to a friend, then home to work on figuring area and doing multiplication, learn about the history of coal mining in Pennsylvania and read aloud the next exciting chapters from George MacDonald's The Princess & Curdie. We'd study nature and sketch it, write down our observations about weather conditions, practice penmanship and memorize poetry. After Sugar and Spice made lunch, they'd wash up the dishes while Nice gave Lil' Snip a ride in her dolly stroller.
In the afternoon we have an hour or so of Quiet Time (which I always think of capitalized). Sugar and Spice read on their own, Nice listens to music and looks at books, and Lil' Snip, we hope, sleeps.
I read, or nap myself, and sometimes . . . I take the time to count my blessings. The trade-off is worth it. I'd rather have my children home, learning life together, no matter how much leisure I give up.