I don't know whether a nap or a victory dance would be most appropriate! But as we finished up our first official year of homeschooling (kindergarten) one thing is certain, I am feeling quite proud.
One (of the many) motivations of keeping my daughter "at home" this year was that I deeply desired to travel the journey of literacy with her. Maybe it's pride nudging me to be THE ONE who helps her learn to read. Or perhaps it's plain instinct taking over. All I know is that I wanted to be there when my daughter learned to read.
Unlike traditional schooling where a child brings home projects, papers and evaluations on a regular basis to show proof of what was learned during the hours spent out of the company of the family, it is quite different when your child takes on the academic world in their own home/world. Of course we have stacks of papers, art projects, math worksheets, copied poems, traced alphabets and the like posted and stored in our house from the past year. But we don't have the "checklist" of a report card to tell the story of my daughter's learning. What I have had on a daily basis is the amazing and satisfying experience of actually SEEING her learn. It's like being there to take in the moment of your baby's first steps. Who would want to miss that? And who would be able to describe it back to the parent as perfectly as if they had witnessed it firsthand?
And although she has "mastered" the traditional skills of reading, writing and math, the learning experiences don't end where the paper trail does. Moreover, she has gained knowledge from the world around her (literary world, musical world, nature/Creation, world of movement and dance, world of humanness). Identifying the leaf from our front yard's (maple) tree, chasing and naming a butterfly ("Michelle"), picking (our neighbor's) flowers for me to enjoy at the dinner table, meeting our new neighbors, learning by heart a plethora of nursery rhymes, learning to fold (just as neatly as I'm able to) a load of clean towels/washcloths, being able to read and recite by memory (and on her OWN initiative) the poem “Fairy Bread" and learning to like, love and share her life with her two little brothers are just a FEW OF THE MANY valuable lessons that she has learned over the last 9 months. Now THAT has been the extraordinary portion of our "schooling".
Don't get me wrong. There are times when I wonder if it is all worth it.
There are moments when I feel like calling up the superintendent of schools and asking them to send a squad car to pick up my truant daughter and bring her to a place where people are actually "doing school"! Yes, there are days when no official "schoolbook" is opened, no pencil sees the light of day out of the pencil box and where it seems we have noTHING to show for. But these are the days when we are simply living life together, as a family.
And for now, it just feels right.