So I expect to change my mind when the kids get older, but for us right now, homeschooling is about more than just pencil and paper. It's more than academic seat work, checking skills off a list, or unit studies. For my almost-5-next-week and 3 year old, homeschooling is about:
Weekly trips to the library.
Instilling a love of books and reading at an early age. Making the library a fun, safe, comfortable place of discovery and joy. Sophie and Xander both have favorite series of books (Xander's is a set of nonfiction easy readers about different vehicles, Sophie's are Fancy Nancy, Madeline, Kevin Henkes' books, and now recently, Angelina Ballerina). They know where the books are in the library and run to them every time. I have to limit how many books we take home (as many as will fill my tote). The library is one of the few places where you can be as excessive as you like. I always feel rich when I leave with a bag full of books.
The learning lifestyle.
When we go to the grocery store, Sophie reads the can labels. Now that she's learning about money, we go over the weekly sale fliers together. We have a billion discussions every day about: why the man outside of WalMart is asking for donations for Marines. Why we have to obey the speed limit. What is the speed limit? What is a star? What is the sun? What is the moon? Why is that person using a white cane? Why do women marry mean men? We stop and examine the rocks, the insects, the clouds over the mountain. We count stairs. We find the letter, 'S' in signs as we drive by. In short, learning is always on our minds. It is a natural part of the day.
Getting together with friends.
We have play dates every week, where the kids can run, play, imagine, and explore with their friends. Sometimes they fight. Sometimes somebody throws sand. Sometimes somebody doesn't want to be friends anymore. These are all things we talk about, redirect or discipline as they happen. I'm able to take these little playground trials and turn them into learning experiences. It helps that the other moms have the same discipline styles and goals as I do, and we all trust each other with our children. Sometimes we learn a little. Last week we made butter. The week before that, painted with pudding. This summer we're planning a trip to the local courthouse.
I feel so blessed to spend time with my kids. To be intimately aware of the details of their day, and able to interject or stand back as the occasion requires. Catching those moments when I really see my daughter and think, "Oh my God, you're beautiful."