The Schoolmarm of Sandy Hill

Monday began our first day of school for the year. Yes, I am one of those complete weirdos who chose to homeschool my kids. This is Homeschool Year Number One, Day Three. I will not bore you to death with my decision to homeschool, nor will I berate you if your children are in public school. Not one person on this planet is the same, and everyone learns differently. Now, let’s take that and wrap it up in a nice little box, adorn it with a pretty pink ribbon and tuck that away. Moving along, let us see how this week has gone for us, thus far:

Day One: I introduce myself to my children as “Mrs. Childress”. They fall into giggles and holler: “Mooooooooooooommmmmm, we know who you are!” Still, introductions are important, right? So they have to tell me their name, favorite food, color, and animal.  The curriculum that I purchased (Sonlight) THANKFULLY is quite complete. Even so, I nervously thumb through the instructor’s guide to get through the day’s lesson plan. Things start off somewhat unorganized and I hope I am not losing my kids’ attention. After all, if you lose it for any more than 3 seconds, they are on to something else. (SQUIRREL!)

We go through my slightly dry presentation of archeology, and I am glad to get to our read-aloud book. There is 10 minutes that I don’t have to think too much; just read!

With that done, it was time for our geography lesson on the continents and the oceans. Speaking of which, has anyone ever heard of the ‘Southern Ocean’? Back in my day, we were taught that it was the ‘Antarctic Ocean’. Hmm. Well, the lesson came with a CD. As I put it on to play, my youngest hollers out, “I don’t want to hear BABY songs! This is so BOOOOOORRRRRIIIIIIINNNNNGGGG!” She covers her ears defiantly. After a Mother-Death-Stare and the promise of some swift punishment, she slowly removes her hands, but runs into a corner, sulking. Okay, well, I paid good money for this CD and by gum, we are all going to listen to it. What I did NOT foresee at the time was that the continent song would get burned into my mind and I would find myself humming the tune while washing dishes, and waking up for the next 2 days singing about Europe and Asia.

After our little show of defiance, I reeled in Miss MiffyPants and she had to read aloud to me. She was not at all pleased that the “people in the book had smiley faces, because she hates smiley faces” (it is a beginner’s bible) and also she thought that Adam’s choice of name for his partner was ‘dumb’ and that Eve should definitely been named “Lily” or “Daisy”. I still wonder why that are quite appropriate for a Border Collie would be acceptable for the first woman on earth, but what do I know?  We finished up with a few pages on apes…also not Miss MiffyPant’s favorite animal, but we did decide that gibbons were tolerable.

Day 2: Today I felt more prepared since I had studied my instructor’s guide more the night before. I had pre-printed some coloring pages and decided that glitter and glue would make for a more interesting coloring project. The history lesson for today was on the Stone Age people.  Youngest daughter’s eyes fly open when she realizes there are actually some fully nude/semi-nude drawings in our history book. Some people find offense to these drawings (and literally, the nipples are dots), but I think that seeing anything having to do with ‘celebrity news’ is far, far more harmful. It’s pretty hard to look trashy and uncouth as you are grinding grain in a concave stone, scraping a gazelle’s hide for leather, or making a coil clay pot. Anyway, once we got past the Stone Age Dotted Nipple chapter, I made an important discovery. Kids find things immensely interesting when you allow them to use Vis-A-Vis pens. These are the wet erase pens that we had that teachers would use on the overhead transparencies. Remember those? I had no idea how magical a wet erase pen could be. Suddenly, geography became FUN when not only could you WRITE ON THE MAP, but you could also DRAW PENGUINS ON ANTARCTICA AND SHARKS IN THE PACIFIC.  I practically had to wrestle the pens out of their hands.

I decide to end the day with our craft, which is a coloring page about Hanukkah.  It has a nice little picture of a few gifts, some golden coins (gilt), and a dreidel.  Our lesson on People of the World was about the Jewish people. I am embarrassed to say that I know practically nothing about Jewish people, except that I went to school with one, and they play the dreidel game to win chocolate coins during Hanukkah, and I’m not even really sure I have that right. But that is what I told the kids and their eyes light up. They are nuts about chocolate coins. Then I tell them about the lighting of the menorah and that some Jewish children receive a small gift for the eight days of Hanukkah.

They both look at me with excited faces and announce: “Mom, we want to be Jewish!

I don’t remember this being mentioned in my guide.

Day 3:  After explaining that many Jews do not celebrate Christmas, Judaism took a back seat in the house, for now at least. Today was an odd day because we had some morning errands, so school began at noon. Things fell into place much easier today with some more pre-planning. I can see why my Mamaw, a Sunday school teacher of over 50 years, spent almost every afternoon alone in her bedroom, studying for the following Sunday’s lesson. Yes, it is clear to me now.

After 2.5 days of singing the Continent Song, I think it finally broke down Miss Miffy. She insists that we put on the CD.  Rather than sing along, we all stood up and made an impromptu interpretive dance about the continents and oceans. Of course, for Antarctica, you must touch your toes, and when you sing of the oceans, you are required to perform swimming motions. After perfecting our new ‘routine’ and after I nearly vomit from spinning around far, far too often, it was time to leave geography behind for another day.

After reading about brown bears, our craft of the day was a coloring page of a grizzly bear, which the girls happily worked on for close to an hour.  The last step was to coat the bears in glue and sprinkle on coffee grounds to make a ‘Mocha Bear’.  I have to say, coffee grounds actually do make a pretty cool looking bear, though the bears ‘shed’ quite heavily.

So, so far, so good. I do not *DOOOOOO NOOOOOOOTTTTT* miss getting roused at 6am, throwing together a kinda-breakfast, kinda getting morning chores done, and running out the door, only to be tardy more often than I care to admit. And I know that the girls do not, either. I do not miss telling Miss Miffy 50 times to brush her teeth, wait in the car for her for 10 minutes, run back inside when she fails to show and yelling up the stairs to hurry up, running back to the car and pulling up to the school, only to realize that she forgot to brush her teeth anyway. I do not miss the insanity of the drop-off line at school, where everyone drives as though we are in a country with zero common sense, no rules or regulations, and people drop off their kids wearing furry Dale Earnhart pajama bottoms, no bra, and a freshly lit Virginia Slim hanging out of the corner of their mouths.

I guess I must be doing a pretty good job, even for a teacher of three days. Miss Miffy came running up to me after snack time with her eyes all aglitter with excitement.

“Mommy, when you die can I have that (geography) CD?”

“Yes. When I die, you may certainly have that CD.”

“YAY! Because it’s my favorite CD in the whole world!”