Friday, April 30, 2021

Homeschooling, Cooking, and Common Language

 It is Oakes Day - or rather - the day before the Kentucky Derby. While we do not live in Kentucky, over the years my family has found this is a great opportunity to get dressed up and bring people together for a party. And to force kids to run around in circles on stick horses. 

Party prep day means cooking, so our homeschooling for today translated into work in the kitchen. After nearly a year of learning first grade and third grade math together I found myself automatically aligning our cooking with fractions and measurement. Although I've always done this, now it feels more meaningful. I know exactly how the questions were posed in the math curriculum we used and know who struggled with which aspect of fractions. I watched for the moment the eyes lit up when the first grader put together exactly how many 1/2 cups we needed to use for two cups of flour because the cup measurer was already dirty. 

Throughout this busy afternoon in the kitchen I found myself thinking how much I have enjoyed our homeschooling year. How far we have all come. And how much I will miss it if we decide to go back to regular school in the fall.

Before COVID I joked about homeschooling but never really put much thought behind it. I worked with many children who are homeschooled and I saw the benefits, but also appreciated the structure of public school for our family. Now that we've tried it... I can't decide whether we will keep going or return. There are so many aspects I absolutely love about it.

Regardless of our decision, I realized in the kitchen today that this year of homeschooling has given us a common language around learning we would not have otherwise had. We can slip between chatting about what movie to watch on Friday and comparing fractions or adding time without skipping a beat. We analyze poems, recognize metaphors during podcasts, and keep lists of what we want to learn about next.

In the classroom, developing a common language as a classroom community was always important to me. In my first grade classroom we often spent time on discussions around how to be a problem solver to develop language we could use throughout the year in all areas of our day - from math problems to social emotional learning. In the classroom, everything I did felt more intentional. Yet I realize as we analyzed the fraction bar on the back of the butter stick that what we've developed from this year is a common language as a family as well. In fact, my first grader even refers to us as "Team Lipstick" almost daily as we dive into problem solving opportunities.

Don't get me wrong. Homeschooling has not been easy. I have new strands of glittering grey hairs and my girls comment on my wrinkles that somehow increased during the last year. This morning one of my lovely children handed me a "two page" story. Two pages being the small paper pages she created - not using the 8 1/2 by 11 standard.