The city bus comes past our house at 10:15. Although I had a bit of tummy upset today and really didn't feel like doing anything, the kids pestered me to go somewhere, so I gave in because we hadn't really gone anywhere all week. I know that learning occurs at home as well as out and about, but frankly, I think we were all tired of watching Kipper the Dog.
Looking for somewhere new, I herded the Goombas off the bus at a new stop, and headed onto the University campus, recently emptied of students. We first tried the playground by the Education building, but just as we got there, the preschool there poured forth and suddenly 40 five-year-olds wanted to use the playground. Their teacher asked me if we wouldn't mind leaving, as she was worried that her kids would injure my little ones.
We agreed, just to be nice, and headed instead to the Arboretum, which is where I'd planned to go anyway. Watching the classroom children made me SO glad that I homeschool my kids. The tiny playground, about 10 feet per side, had only one slide and a set of hand-over-hand bars, but was being shared by swarms of kids, most of whom spent the entire playtime waiting in line. So that is school "socialization" is it?
The Old Arboretum is a patch of pine woods that divides the Recreation and Dance building from the New Greek Row. We entered the coolness of the trees, and pretended we were entering Narnia. Abi, agitated by the horde of noisy kids back on the playground, began to relax and join her siblings hunting for sticks and leaves. We finally decided we needed to build a fort, which we did in the shape of a teepee, and happily planned the kind of big fort we'd build once we took a trip to the cabin.
The five-year-olds on the playground were all herded onto waiting school busses, and the tiny play area once again beckoned us to play, which we did. Then, we decided we were hungry, so we borrowed a $20 from Daddy, who works in one of the nearby buildings, and headed into the bagel shop for lunch.
The lady in the bagel shop eyed my four youngsters askance, so we opted to sit nearby in the Rotunda to eat. The girls shared a grilled cheese bagel, and the boys had a PBJ. I found that they had low-cal diet bagel thins, and was excited to only enter 270 calories on my tracker app.
Little Mister and I posed for a picture, and then I wiped the peanut butter off his mouth! Later, I realized I should have done that the other way around, but oh well. He looked cute anyway. Curly helped me tremendously by collecting chairs and helping the Littles while I waited for our food to be done. For only being seven, she offers me a tremendous amount of support on trips like this. Remembering my own experience with my own little sister, I know she is practicing for the days when she has her own family, or is a teacher or in some other way works with communicating and serving others. The willingness to jump in and do what needs to be done goes a long way toward success in just about any workplace.
Later, waiting in the bus stop, Abi began tapping her cane on the ground, telling me it was making "musica." I started a syncopated clapping, and together we drummed and clapped until we both collapsed into giggles.
The other three amused themselves climbing the tree near the bus stop. Once the bus came and we all got settled, Curly and Mister took turns solving mental math problems, giggling at the "hard" ones like 93+82, or the "easy" ones like 17x10. We made it home with tired Littles, ready to take a nap.
Today was one of those days when it surprises me how much I like teaching my kids in this manner. It still amazes me how easily they learn something that seemed so difficult when I taught school. Getting a whole class of 3rd graders to grasp 93+82 or clapping along with a beat seemed like a nightmare when I taught public school, yet here are my 4- and 5-year-olds doing those things easily and without complaint just because it is their idea, and because it is a fun game out in the "real world." On top of that, they had plenty of time free to climb trees, build forts, get exercise on the playground, practice manners in a "real, grownup restaurant," and the only line they had to wait in was the one at the bagel shop.
I'm not down on schools at all; after all I went to them, taught in them, support them. Many of my friends use them, and I have absolutely no problem with that. But my paradigms for efficient and effective education have been changing as we explore a different method than the schools are traditionally able to use. I'm so blessed that our family has the ability and freedom to explore education like this. It's just so much fun!