I've been waiting for this feeling, for this sort of day. I've come to know patience so well, allowing the requested structure and rhythm provide trust in the process, the experience. She needed that. It occurred to me that because we've honored her wishes (in terms of how she'd like homeschool to flow... very structured for those of you new to our story), the security she needed to find her solid place in it all has been met.
Do you know what this reminds me of? Attachment parenting. And I thought those magical days were behind us. (So nice to see them again.)
I can feel the exhale. The discovery of our evolving groove. Still plenty of structure, but now there is more space to allow (and trust) for spontaneity. Why trust? Because the structure, the foundation is still there to return to, firmly established. There is faith in that. See? Like attachment parenting.
Yesterday, I never wrote our schedule on the white board, and we had a beautiful day as a result! We started the day with (what I call) a little housekeeping schoolwork - vocabulary sentences. Then, Emily and I bundled up from head to toe and walked to her little job. Normally, I don't stay for the two hours, but considering yesterday's single digit (frost bite setting in in 5 minutes!) temps, it was kind of foolish for me to walk the fifteen minutes back home. So, I brought a little artwork and kept busy in one of the other rooms of the house, the massage therapists office. How lovely a place to sit and draw for a couple hours.
The light in the room was soft and warm. I worked on and completed this drawing. Can I tell you how much I love that I'll always have this little room to remember finishing it in? Quite a lot. While the ink flowed, I listened to the scurry of bodies and voices just down the hall.
I listened as Emily assisted a younger child make her own pair of Inuit Snow Goggles. Then, she helped another plan out her drawing of a castle (I think it was actually part of a set design for a play they are performing). It felt like a secret dreamed up place. A perfect spot in the world where children could be children and teachers could be teachers. I felt blessed to be a witness.
I marveled at the wise, experienced woman mentoring one that is up and coming. And in turn, the up and coming mentoring the young and curious. What a cohesive, beautiful thing.
At the end of the morning, we headed out (this time in a car - Adam picked us up between his appointments) and stopped down to the library for a fresh stack of pleasure reading. We walked in just as the librarian was working up a sample of a duct tape rose (for Valentine's Day, of course!). She saw Emily and said "Oh Emily, you're just in time...I'm making a rose for our next workshop... do you like it... what do you think we should do after we all get tired of duct tape projects?"
I love this. This is community, her people, belonging.
Emily and her friends have been making duct tape crafts at the library over the past couple of months. They've had a blast! But, agreed... at some point they will want to gather for another reason. There are limits as to how much duct tape we can bring into our lives.
Emily and the librarian discussed possibilities of a teen advisory committee (to plan library programs and such), a book club, etc. I think an after school Homework Helper (mentor type) program would be great too - our library sees a lot of foot traffic in the after school hours, many children who do not have computers at home come to do their homework.
She and the librarian talked about current favorite books and up and coming authors. Soon enough, a half dozen titles were chosen, final exchanges were made, and we were on our way. Adam dropped us at home and headed off to his next appointment. The remainder of the day for Emily and I did not go according to what I had mentally panned. I intended to begin our next lesson in Civics, Voter's Rights and Responsibilities, but taking a read from Emily who had a slight headache, was cold (did I mention the cold?), and generally just sort of blah, I scrapped the plan and went with an alternative.
She read 100 pages in one of her new books.
I read a couple of chapters from our current read aloud.
She learned to play You Are My Sunshine on the guitar.
We ate popcorn. And made hot cocoa. With fresh whipped cream.
We sat on the couch with blankets and giggled.
She edited some photos. I admired her proficiency with Picnik.
Math was scheduled for later on with Dad.
She went to basketball practice with friends.
I made venison stew, she loved it.
There was no fancy field trip, no formal science lab. Aside from her vocabulary work in the morning, not a single textbook was cracked. Yet more than once throughout the day I thought, "I love how this day is flowing... this is what I'm talking about.. this is why we're homeschooling."
Today things were back to a more familiar routine. The 'schedule' was written on the white board. We read Rule #9 in Strunk & White (dashes), completed a couple of grammar exercises (punctuating run-on sentences), the Voter's Rights lesson in Civics did begin, we researched our town website learning all about the process for voter registration, absentee voting, etc. Two more chapters were read aloud. In World History we read/discussed the end of The French Revolution. We are waiting on the arrival of some new Science materials, so a bit of a (planned) Science break. She finished sewing a scarf for a friend. Math will be tonight (I am grateful every day to have a smarty pants math guy in the house), along with watching the State of the Union. On paper, we accomplished a respectable amount of academics today. It sort of looks down right commendable.
However, as I sit here this afternoon and write down these thoughts, I look out the window and see Emily outside in the back yard with a friend. They are sledding or snowboarding, depending on when I glance up. I am so happy she is out there right now, living up the moment, because I've got to tell you, our day today (aside from seeing her outside), with all that we packed in... it doesn't hold a candle to the magic and lustre that was yesterday.
Maybe I should just write that on the white board tomorrow... magic and lustre.
There will always be plenty of routine and books in my girl's life, probably a white board too. She's orderly that way. It's the freedom to seek and experience the possibility in each day that I feel a responsibility to provide and set the example for. I don't always get it right, I am imperfectly human. But on those days when it all flows beautifully, full of magic and lustre... well, those days are simply worth capturing.