We had an extra long summer school break, what with packing up the house, prepping the trailer, Mike working and teaching a class, etc. The kids ended up having lots of freedom and little responsibility.
I, the Teacher, packed several books and supplies, but did not put together a formal schedule, planning instead to take advantage of our changing locations.
I naively thought we’d take a week or so to get adjusted to trailer life. It turned out to be a solid month of figuring out how to live in a 270 sq ft box (food purchasing and preparation, cleaning, walking gently, finding laundromats, etc)—not that we have all the answers, yet.
One issue we quickly discovered was that family relationships had been damaged during the previous months and we needed time for mending. Although I was feeling guilty that my children were not learning enough (concerned that my middle school students were spending most of their day “playing”), I knew that relationships are more important than book work and the relationships needed to be my primary focus.
The process of mending has been/is difficult. But, some healing has already taken place and I look forward to continued growth in that area.
At about the 4-week mark, I felt a more formal approach to the kids’ education was neccessary. I sat down with my notepad and pencil, and began scribbling notes. The next day I talked at the kids about my thoughts and feelings. A pretty nasty exchange of words and attitudes ensued. I told the kids to leave the trailer and I prayed. I also sent out a request to my “sisters” to pray for us. God heard our pleas.
Data returned to the trailer and he and I had a good discussion about his education. He pointed out that he was learning (he especially enjoyed our tour in Gettysburg). We talked about math, writing, history, science, etc. We looked through books and supplies that I had packed. Between the two of us, we came up with a plan for him.
A short time later, Miranda came into the trailer. She was in a much better mood and appeared ready to talk. The direction of our conversation had to have been God-led, because I hadn’t planned to go that way. I asked Miranda what kind of jobs she might be interested in doing when she was an adult. She told me her top choice (guide-dog trainer) and then asked me to wait a minute as she ran out to the truck. She returned with a crossword puzzle book and turned to an advertisment listing careers. She read off her favorites from the list.
We looked at her list and determined that she would take a week to research each occupation—definition of the career, education required, where positions could be found, salary, hours required (FT or PT), etc. After researching, Miranda would write about how she may/may not be suited for this occupation, why she thinks she might like it, etc. Miranda will also create an advertisement and, if possible,do something “hands on” related to the career.
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Next was a dicussion about history. When I asked her about her disinterest in our previous history stops, she informed me that she didn’t enjoy all of the war talk. She is interested in learning about pioneers and westward expansion, she’s just not thrilled with all of the battles and dying. Okay. I wish I asked her about this sooner.
The next day, I wrote up contracts for both children, regarding what we discussed. After Data added an Addendum to the contracts (if the family takes a field trip or has a travel day, that day’s formal schooling is off), we signed and dated the contracts and the students began their studies.
In addition to the schooling schedules we put together, the kids have already been reading their Bibles (both kids decided they wanted to read through the entire Bible while on the road—they’ve been reading every day since right before we left Holland) and Miranda has journaled every day. And yesterday, both kids signed up for NANOWRIMO (this is their third year of participation), which begins next Monday, November 1.
I, the teacher, still fear my students are falling behind in their formal studies. But, I, the parent, am seeing improving family relations and children who are invested in their learning and are willing to try new things (foods, experiences, etc). And, I, the woman, am being stretched and pulled outside my comfort zone—and I’m learning that that is a good thing.