It has been a summer of chores and chickens for my kids and me. There have been many days when I have felt that my kids spend more time on chores than I am comfortable with. But things have gotten easier in recent weeks. Thanks to my boyfriend, Roy, the coop is up and, while not done, is usable. Some of the chickens are in the freezer (I know, I know…). We’ve pretty much given up on the garden, and the growth of our ridiculously large lawn has slowed and no longer requires regular mowing. There is no snow to shovel, (yet).
Last week my son started two online courses that he has decided he wants to take (I always think it is funny that my unschooled son loves to take classes – I guess he knows how he learns best) and it forced us to start getting into a routine for the fall, or, as my son put it, a “rhythm”. I like our rhythm. We are home most mornings, working on projects or studying as we choose. I have some rules that help guide us, like “No recreational reading, hiding in your room, or listening to music between the hours of 9 am and noon!” Today as I packed a dinner to take along on our weekly trip to gymnastics in Superior, I stopped and watched my kids doing their after-lunch chores. My son was folding laundry, my daughter sweeping the stairs, and for a brief moment my heart felt full and content. My kids didn’t notice me watching them, and I smiled as I thought how nice it was that we all contribute to this family and to creating a comfortable home. Sometimes there are too many monotonous chores that just have to be done, but chores can also be about learning life skills that will help my children live healthy lives after they leave home. Today my daughter asked me “How did you get to be such a good cook, mom?” She knows that I didn’t learn to cook when I was growing up. I had to really stop and think before I could answer her. I thought about all the hours I have spent reading and learning, asking questions and questioning what we are told about healthy eating. I thought about all the mistakes I made along the way (stewed turkey for Thanksgiving, anyone?) and the number of times I radically changed our diets based on new information I was learning. When it comes to cooking and nutrition, I now think for myself. For my kids, folding and sweeping are just mundane chores, but learning to grow, raise, and prepare their own healthy food is important – as is learning to think for themselves. It is this type of learning, learning for life, that forms part of the basis of my reasons for homeschooling.
I received an encouraging email today from Wisconsin Parents Association on this topic of finding our reasons for homeschooling. For those of you who are not members and therefore did not receive the email, I’d like to share part of it with you here. Pamela Roland spoke at the 2014 WPA conference on how to simplify and invigorate a homeschool. Here is a quote from her speech and a link to the full text:
Some people go through a formal process of creating a family mission statement, but whether or not you’ve done that, I imagine that back when you made the choice to live your homeschooling life, you had a reason in mind. You may have wanted to create a life where family was at the center, or a life where there was time and space for the pursuit of things that were meaningful to your family. Maybe you wanted to make sure that you provided a life where faith was the cornerstone. You might have wanted your children to be surrounded by an inspirational environment or to be able to focus on the unique needs and abilities of each child without comparison. Maybe you wanted to focus on academic excellence. For most of us, there is a combination of things that make up our underlying purpose. Whatever is at the heart of your homeschool, see if you can articulate it. If it doesn’t seem clear to you, think about the most important things you do each day, each week, each year, and see how they reflect the values at the core of your homeschool. Once you have that purpose in mind, you may be able to see what you have done already that reflects that purpose. In fact, I’m sure that it can be found in your homeschool and in your life. (More WPA conference speeches here – check out who gave the speech in 2002).
Good luck to you and your family as you head into a new year.