Saturday, September 23, 2006

Enlightening Our Future Leaders

Still can't get the pictures in. I'll keep trying though - generally speaking, pictures make the post.

As I mentioned before, (that would be, THURSDAY, when I FIRST POSTED) I educate my children at home. We've just started, as my eldest daughter has just turned five. We like it, but it's definitely harder than, say, dropping her off outside the nearest weedy, depressing, pavement-covered subsidized public school and waving a cheery goodbye to our little contribution of grist for the mill.

a - HA!

This week was about adjusting to outside activities. Since Charlotte was born, I have strenuously resisted all commitments outside the home, feeling it was important for a child to play, every day, in their own space, without the pressure of getting up, dressed, ready, and out the door by a certain time. So far, her childhood has been idyllic…..

Until Now.
(dun dun DUUUNNNN)

Now, we have emerged, blinking and stumbling, into the all-too-bright lights of the real world. We are like homesteaders taking the two-day trip into town to buy flour and salt at the general store, baffled by the speed of the traffic, starting at every noise, every whooshing air brake, every honking horn, staring in wide-eyed wonder at the gaily dressed crowds and the astonishing neon lights blinking an endless repetition of “GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!!” and “OPEN 24 HOURS”.

Charlotte has started swimming lessons Monday and Wednesday, art lessons Tuesday, and library Storytime on Wednesdays. We are not used to it, to put it mildly. I had to make a trip to Please Mum this weekend just so she would have something fit to be seen in, besides her seven or eight pairs of flannel pajamas, which are her usual uniform.

However, girlfriend has really taken to the outside activities. She really likes all the stuff I don’t like – the need to be somewhere at a certain time, the rushing to get our things together and get out the door, the agonizing suspense of whether we’ll miss the bus.

Happily for me, when you're homeschooling a Kindergartner, the pressure really is off. For the most part, we do what interests us. Today just as we were going to begin Science (i.e., asking her what she would like to learn about today and referencing that subject in her encyclopedia), a wasp flew into the schoolroom. I whacked it with a workbook, and collected its lifeless form onto a piece of paper, bringing it and a magnifying glass to the centre of the room to examine. We spent five minutes or so checking out this wasp, and Charlotte peered through the magnifying glass at it while I turned it this way and that with a pencil, showing her its anatomy. I tried to double-check insect anatomy in her "First Nature Encyclopedia", to make sure I was correct about which part was the thorax and which the abdomen, but sadly the encyclopedia let us down on this point.

About ten minutes later, another wasp flew into the room, and when I whacked it, it fell onto the floor and lay there, buzzing on its back. To our great excitement, a huge spider ran out from underneath the heater, seized the wasp, and started wrapping it up. We watched this thrilling spectacle through the magnifying glass for several minutes, until the spider had paralyzed the wasp and completely wrapped it in silk. When it started to drag the hapless wasp up inside the heater, I had to intervene and put both of them outside. This way they could continue to take part in the great circle of life, just not in my house.

So now we have Marauding Deer, Sinister Wasps, and useful but very creepy Huge Spiders. Science has been GREAT this week. Go see what my sister's kids are doing.

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