“What did you do today?”
Five words that most people say to one another on any given day. Words you say when you pick your child up from school, when your mom calls you up on the phone to catch up, when your spouse walks in the door after a long shift. Five words that have come to mean something very different to my daughter and I as homeschoolers.
It’s often inquiry, even interrogation, rather than true interest; that seems to fuel the question.
Did you do math? Did you read? Read: Is your mom teaching you the stuff you should be learning in school right now? I can take it personally. I can get pretty defensive inside. I’ve always been a fighter, but I try to hold my tongue and let her answer.
My introvert. Answer. Yeah, right!
I wish I could know what’s going on in her head when she hears the question. We’ve tried to talk about how to answer, but she usually doesn’t like my ideas. I think most people will have to deal with the silence. It’s probably all they are entitled to hear anyways. It’s not really any of their business.
For your information, my daughter does lots of things. She’s very busy. She has plans and I have plans for her. It can become a pretty busy day.
Now that she’s getting older, it starts with chores and routine. Empty the dishwasher. Brush her hair. Put on her own shoes. Set the table or clear the dishes. Get out the milk and pour for herself and sister while her dad or I make breakfast. Wash, dry, and fold her own laundry.
Make her bed. Stuff she does to contribute to the daily family life…stuff I’d probably just do for her if we were living a more fast-paced life going from work to school to after school activities…stuff that takes time and makes my life slower sometimes, too.
But I am learning to find joy while traveling at a child’s pace in this season of life. In fact, I started learning this “slow down and smell the roses” principle before I became a mom.
As a teacher, I encountered a mentor who once said something like this: “You have to make sure the students are seated and on the bus before you drive away.” He was talking about curriculum and standards. He was saying that you can’t just keep driving forward.
Sometimes you pause, review, double-back. It’s ok to do that. In fact, it’s often necessary. So, what else did she do today, you ask?
Counted her money to see how much she’s earned toward the American Girl Doll she wants to
buy. (Math: values, parts of a whole, addition….)
Read innumerable stories to herself or with one of her family members. Re-enacted said stories with her dolls, a dress-up bin, and little sister. Practiced new vocabulary in natural spontaneous conversations in real life situations.
Wrote a letter congratulating our neighbor on the birth of their new baby girl. Read a thank you note she got in the mail from a friend who recently celebrated her birthday. (Language development has four components: Reading and Writing, but more important for small children, Speaking and Listening…)
Sat and sewed with me, listening to Gordon Lightfoot (where have all the folk singers gone?). Practiced making even stitches with an actual needle and thread. Talked about the lyrics to the songs. (Life Skills: Hand-eye coordination, attention to details, tying knots, music appreciation, stillness, listening, following directions, story telling…)
Stuck a picture she likes to the window and spent at least an hour tracing and coloring various new and original scenes based on the first, with a nice cup of tea brewing nearby. She’s really into horses and home design at the moment. (Visual Arts: lines, tracing, tracking, color choice, medium choice…)
Practiced hand stands for gymnastics class and rode her bike down the block (Physical Education: coordination, strength, endurance, risk taking…)
And every day is different; variety is something we cherish in our home.
In reflection, I don’t feel defensive anymore. I feel thankful that we are learning to answer people’s questions about homeschooling and our family culture with tact (an important life skill for us all). I also think about the way that I ask questions. Do I have preconceived ideas, assumptions, or agendas in the back of my mind when I speak, or am I truly interested in their life? If I am able to sense these things radiating from others when they speak, what does my tone say about my heart?
Can you relate? What lessons have you been learning about communication, schooling/learning, or family life?