I know I haven’t posted in a while about our goings on. It’s just that… well, I wonder how much of our everyday is really that interesting to anyone. I mean, I suppose it would be interesting to anyone who is considering homeschooling, but really, is it that exciting to learn that Zander is adding into the teens very easily? Is it super exciting to hear that Abigail is working on a research report about otters? I don’t know. Maybe I should just put it all out there and let everyone else decide to ignore me.
Today we began our Christmas break. I woke up this morning and just decided to go ahead and do it. I’ve been keeping careful track of the time we spend schooling. In our state, we are required to engage our children’s mind for 875 hours, which sounds like a lot, and is, but I’ve been surprised when I actually added up our time. Because we school at home, I am able to add in all those extra learning bits. When we spend a Saturday afternoon watching a movie on the Mayflower, that adds 2 hours to our school time. When Abigail goes to dance class at night, that counts as 2 hours of phy ed for her. And as all these little things, plus our more formal seat work , add up, we have actually fulfilled over half of our requirements for the year already- and we’re just over a third finished with our core work. And to think that I had been worried about actually meeting that hourly requirement!
My title this morning for my blog post has everything to do with how I really feel like something has been unlocked within my children. The biggest way I can explain this is to tell you a little bit about their non-schooling time. What they choose to do with their non-school hours has changed so drastically in the last month or so. My children have re-discovered the art of play for one, and I love seeing that. Several times as of late, the two have them have holed up in one of their bedrooms, playing with toys that were seemingly forgotten. They’ve rediscovered their imaginations, and that has taken the play to a whole new level. Where several months ago I was lamenting the fact that my son hates legos, he now pulls them out every single day, trying to come up with a new creation.
And I think that is the biggest thing I’ve noticed. They aren’t just gravitating to the mindless play (for which I do think there is a great purpose in) but they are gravitating towards that pull of wanting to learn more. Just last night, the kids pulled out a star globe and stretched out on a bedroom floor to gaze at the ceiling and identify some constellations. Abigail spent a great deal of time yesterday morning digging out a snow cave, just like the Inuit, who we learned about many weeks ago.
Board games are coming out more often, and Zander eagerly adds the dice together every single time, showing off his blossoming math skills. As I write this, Abigail is working very diligently on a cross-stitch, and has taken it upon herself to color in her pattern first, to make the actual stitching easier to follow. Other days she gets out her paper dolls and acts out one of many books that we’ve read. Even Zander got down on the floor with her the other day and played with the Little House paper dolls for some time with her.
Zander can frequently be found somewhere with a book in his hand. Either reading it himself, or asking me to read it to him, so he can sit and snuggle under a blanket. When he does choose to play a video game, it’s one that requires a great use of logic and problem solving skills- and both kids are eager to do research. When they hear something on a cartoon they watch, they are eager to look it up and see if it’s real- hoping against all hopes that the Alaskan Bullworm that Spongebob speaks of is real. (Which, it isn’t, but it is Spongebob’s term for a bookworm- also a fictional figure.)
We get to do experiments with toys- just how tall can we stack the legos before they fall over? Or sometimes Zander will just come running to show me something he found- like the rectangular prism that was disguised as a block, but look! It’s also a square on one end of it! And my little boy who just a few months ago would burst into tears at the mere thought of coloring can be overheard asking his sister to color with him every once in a while. Right now, he’s trying on a pair of Andy’s boots, talking like a cowboy, and just now he asked if people in the old days had cowboy boots.
My kids have simply discovered the joys of learning. And they’re learning how to learn. They know that if they want to know if something is real, we can look it up on the computer. And they also know that if they want to learn more about something, we can check out a stack of books on the subject at the library. They’re just simply enjoying life and learning. We’re taking this break from school until the new year, simply because we can. We want to enjoy the Christmas season without feeling like we’re rushing through the school work. They are both so far ahead in their math that taking a few weeks off to refresh their minds will be wonderful and help them to excel even further. And our break from school is not a complete break, because there will always be those learning moments. We’ll learn more about Christmas in the weeks to come, and learn more about winter and snow and all things ice as well. The learning doesn’t stop simply because I put the curriculum away for a time- the learning will just get that much more special.