Deadly Poppy Fields…and other anecdotes.

We are six weeks into home schooling. During that time I have had surgery, 3wild3free-dad’s work schedule has had him gone 10 hours daily, we brought home a little pup and I quit coffee (this last item being a huge deal for me since coffee has been a great love of mine for decades, alas health trumps in this instance). We also read The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum followed by the movie; as I am a firm believer of reading the book before watching the movie, went on a field trip to a horse ranch, had the Young Thomas Edison video call us for a biographical lesson (thank you to my amazing brother for that!) and had my three year old ask Alexa to play Bach! So far, this has definitely been a wild ride.

To be honest, most days I feel like I am winging it. I have a planner, I have daily plans…then life sweeps in and we end up rolling with it. Homeschooling has been so liberating, stressful at first but now that we are getting into the groove of things – there is so much freedom in being able to do our own thing.

It so happened that while we were reading the Wizard of Oz, we ended up studying Claude Monet in our art lessons. Claude Monet is one of my favorite artists and I have a print of Poppies framed in our hallway, that same week we read the chapter The Deadly Poppy Fields in the Wizard of Oz. As we researched and made our own Monet sketches, I brought the kids into the hallway to see our Poppies print. My eldest exclaimed, “We have an actual Monet?!” and my middle little cried out, “Poppies?! Are the deadly?!” So far this has been one of my favorite moments; just like that, not only did they actually see an artist’s work that has hung in our homes for the last 12 years – but they also were able to connect the Wizard of Oz to it. This evolved into asking many questions of poppies which led to discussions and research from the flowers, to the seeds we have in the spice cupboard, to why we wear poppies on November 11 in Canada (yes, we are in the USA but I am a Canadian and observe a moment of silence at 11am on 11/11 every year).

This learning happened so naturally, so easily that it helped me to see that homeschooling is a constant. We are continually as parents, taking our life and applying it to where they are in their curriculums. This was an unknown element to me until a few weeks ago. I am now looking at planning from a completely different angle: how does this correlate into our current family life? I am thrilled to have this freedom.

We are now incorporating the women’s vote since it is the 100th anniversary plus an election year; we have a family field trip to Kentucky to see the Ark so the water cycle plus the book of Genesis are in our lesson plans; with family in Canada and no schoolmates to present to – my eldest will be doing virtual presentations on his science, geography and history projects to family we cannot see but online. My kids have recently watched The Greatest Showman and are obsessed, so along with our Edison era history studies I have included a study on the Barnum family and how the circus began. They learn so much more when they are interested and enjoying what we are doing. I feel like I am having as much fun as they are because I am learning too.

We do have our off days, as most do but that is life. We have the freedom to hit the brakes, enjoy tea and cookies in our jammies with extra read aloud time, and make up the math lessons later that week! When I feel like maybe we are not doing enough, I walk past our Poppies print and remember how much they are learning, even when I am not seeing all the dots connecting.

Many of the worries and fears that I had going into homeschooling are slowly fading into the background. I am leaning more on our life, values and experiences to lead our learning versus trying to fit us into some mold that resembles what school the institution says it should look like. This homeschool journey is growing me, taking me places I would have never expected; and it is incredible.

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