Virginia is a weather yo-yo, at least where we live. One day we’re deep in the throes of a polar vortex tantrum, the next we’re flirting with spring. Then back again to snow and ice! This past week has been a bewildering blur of lovely blue skies, sunny weather, and warm temperatures that make the cherry trees attempt an early start to spring.
I haven’t really been watching the weather so I didn’t realize it was going to get this warm. A high of 65°? What? When the temperatures started climbing, I set aside the super important, pressing project I was working on, and packed a quick picnic lunch. Off we went on a nature hike!
Since we’ve been on this trail before, I knew better than to take shoes out on the trail. Rainboots are required footwear around here. We sat and ate our lunch at the old silo floor where an undetermined owl left a few pellets and a handfuls of scattered fur. We drew in the gravel, admired random leaves here and there, and splashed in every single puddle we came across.
Is there ice?
We stopped at the pond to see if it was still covered in ice – it was – and the kids were dying to go walk out on it. I put a stop to that, so they tried to break it instead. A few scattered rocks and sticks later, we determined the ice was thicker than we first thought!
Further along the trail, we stopped at the little creek to see if there might be ice there. The spring seep that trickles into the creek had ice too. We spent a long time testing the strength of the ice in the puddles, stomping like dinosaurs to break it, and prying up pieces out of the grass to see how thick they were. Turns out, ice an inch thick will hold my weight without breaking. Pretty cool!
The freedom to learn
As I watched the kids explore and enjoy the novelty of ice on a warm day, it hit me all over again: this is the real reason we homeschool. Not because we have to, not because we want to avoid homework and standardized testing, and not because we hold any hatred of public schools. This freedom to drift and go, chose what we learn, and enjoy life is the real reason.
Sure, we did some book work that morning, but I know deep in my bones that the real learning happened on the trail. In the mud, the ice, and the sunshine. The kids told me “this is the best day ever!” and I agree – it was! Even though I wore myself out, 2 different kids sat in the cold mud and coated their rears in muck, and I got a migraine: it was the best day ever!
Why do I forget?
Sometimes I get so caught up in grade expectations and curriculum goals that I forget this freedom. I get stuck in a rut of expectations and start to lose that connection with my kids that makes homeschooling so rewarding. No one is making us stay home. No one is telling us we have to accomplish XYZ, so why do I feel like we have to sometimes?
I needed this reminder. Despite homeschooling for 3 years, I still need reminders to not be “normal.” I could do without the extra laundry though!