It's time to get real. There are times when homeschooling isn't what it seems from blog posts and photographs. We have good, productive days...and then not so productive days.
But here's the thing: If AW were in a pre-k program like many of her friends, she'd be going 2-3 days per week during the same weeks as the public school year. She'd attend school likely a little over 100 days during the 2016-2017 school year. Even when she starts kindergarten next year, her friends will be going to school 180 days. Virginia does not require an attendance count for homeschoolers, but I'm fairly certain we do a lot more than 180 days of learning activities. Consistency is important, absolutely. I'm a firm believer in regular rhythms and routines...to a point.
But sometimes, one or more members of the household is sick. Or we have to deal with doctor's appointments, or little emergencies. We had doctor's appointments on two separate days last week. For us, that sometimes means a whole day out of the house because we have to drive a long way for some of our specialists. I was sick. Then AW wasn't feeling 100%. Last week, we read books and watched Bill Nye, Planet Earth, and cooking shows (AW's newest fascination). And we didn't give ourselves a hard time. The only "school" activities we did were from the latest Ivy Box, centered around Mrs. McTat's Houseful of Cats.
This week we're jumping back in. I'm currently reading The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The book uses the term "nature deficit disorder" to apply to our cultural disconnect with nature, and cites an endless number of studies about the effects of this disconnect. It's fascinating from the psychology perspective (I was a psych major for a second in college), but also really motivating in terms of getting my kids outside. I'm a little bit of a wimp in hot weather, but now that the mornings are starting to be beautiful, I'm adjusting our routine a little bit. Yesterday, we were visiting family most of the day, but today, we got outside. Before meeting up with friends, we went to a local park. AW rode her balance bike on the trail and DC marched along, picking up sticks along the way. We looked in holes in trees for animals, touched sap, and found mysterious fruit on the ground (since identified as persimmons thanks to Facebook crowdsourcing). DC picked up small sticks and waved them around, yelling "Osa!" which is his way of saying "wingardium leviosa." (A spell from Harry Potter). Then he grabbed a big branch, straddled it, and said "horsie, neigh!" and rode off proud as can be. We only spent about 30 minutes at the park, but it was a beautiful time, and a very important part of our homeschool day. We spent more time playing outside with friends after lunch.
When we came home, DC played with water beads and AW played with her tablet. She got a Kindle Fire for her birthday, and we've been using some educational apps. She really enjoys "Teach Your Monster to Read." I whipped up some herbal playdough from AYOPS and gave it to them with some little plastic ocean animals we bought at the aquarium gift shop. AW ended up deciding she wanted to slice it and make a cake with a crumble topping (definitely inspired by The Kids Baking Championship show she's been watching). Then both kids wanted to color, and she told me she was drawing a family tree (harking back to one of our summer projects).
Today felt like a perfect homeschool day. We did morning time in the car, sure, but there was so much laughter and music that it felt even better, in a way, than doing the same old same old in the living room. And it showed just how well our memory work was coming along--we did a lot from memory! We spent time outdoors. The kids practiced social skills while playing with a friend. They got both fine and gross motor practice as well as sensory stimulation. We read Dr. Seuss on the sofa in the afternoon. There was no formal instruction, and that's ok. We'll have those days too. But today felt a little bit like what homeschooling is all about.