It was a perfect early fall day. The leaves had begun to color red, yellow, orange, and they were fluttering down from the heights making a multi-colored carpet beneath my feet. There was a chill in the air and the pungent, homey smell of campfire.
Perched on a log, I had an overwhelming feeling of contentment as all six of my grandchildren milled around gathering kindling for a fire, anticipating the s’mores to come.
A few of us decided to take some time off this past week to get away at a Western Maryland State Park. No one had enjoyed much of a vacation this year, so we were truly basking in the great outdoors, nearly having the whole Park to ourselves. What a gift!
This time away gave me ample time to hike and listen and reflect on my homeschooling journey. It also afforded me a glimpse into how the process is working this year for my sons’ families.
Both of my daughters-in-law are teaching their children at home this year. While I haven’t been sitting in on their lessons, the fruits of their labor were easy to see, even during vacation time.
All of the kids, from both families were eager to tell me about the books they had been enjoying. Tom’s family had been spending quite a bit of time in Narnia and were eager to talk about the Pevensie children and to shudder at the mere mention of the White Witch. John’s family was finishing up the Harry Potter series and were summing up their favorite parts of the magical last book.
It was satisfying to picture all of the hours these families had spent reading together. What a great investment they are making in their kids’ academic futures by enjoying books together!
Since we spent all of our time outside on this trip I was able to listen to the kids read and actually share stories with them. They asked all kinds of good questions and made speculations about what was going to happen next. They asked for ghost stories around the campfire and made up their own songs. It is evident that their mothers have been taking a great deal of care with their lessons!
Three year old Martin impressed everyone with his knowledge of basic math facts. He picked up these tidbits by listening in on his big brother’s first grade Math lessons. It was entertaining to hear him give his perspective on number sense. What a deal to be the younger brother in a homeschooling family! Useful knowledge just drips in while you are at the table coloring a picture.
John’s girls have become mini experts in history as their mom weaves stories of the past into their daily lessons. During hikes or while visiting around the fire, they shared what they have been learning. In this way, they taught me a thing or two!
While there was overwhelming evidence of academic progress being made, what was most heartening was the person progress (meaning that arduous process of becoming a good human being!). All of the parents on the trip were patiently relentless in their training of good behavior, of making sure that the kids know when to say they are sorry to each other, of modeling the proper way of asking for something. This is the most difficult job of any parent: turning those wild little creatures into caring, loving individuals!
As Kris and I neared the end of the first quarter of 8th grade, it was completely gratifying to take a little break and recall where we had begun by enjoying her brothers’ families.
It is much easier taking my last lap knowing that the world I am leaving is in such competent hands!