As a home-school mom, I am constantly trying to find new ways to bring a level of excitement into our daily routine. I love being able to bring the classroom outdoors and let ‘life’ be their textbook. However, it has taken a lot of time to develop this character in me.
Throughout the years of schooling our children, I’ve grown just as much as they have. I can honestly say that through all the tears, frustration, and panic I do not regret the decision to bring our children home to teach. I now love the challenge of finding new ways to engage with them that is personal and unique to us. The memories that we have gained are ones that I hold closest to my heart.
I still remember the first day of ‘home-school’. I had a child in eighth grade, fourth grade, one preschooler and one on the way! Talk about stretching myself. As all those little eyes looked up at me from across the table, I explained to them my very ‘detailed’ plan of action. I couldn’t help but to think that those same little eyes knew I wasn’t fooling anyone. I was scared out of my mind and apparently my calm, know-it-all act wasn’t fooling anyone.
We made it through our first year with great experience under our belt…..meaning, everyone survived the occasional meltdowns. I can honestly say it took me two full years before I could calmly tackle our home-school routine without stressing about it every single day.
My philosophy on homeschooling has had its own form of metamorphosis. I am more relaxed about checking off completed lessons and have starting caring more about how engaged my children are in their lessons. Just ask my 6th grader now. She often hears me say, “I don’t care if your lesson is completed. I care if you have learned your lesson!”
With my ‘nest of children’ beginning to shrink, I feel slightly guilty for my older children that had experienced my ‘uptight teaching style’. The kind of style that would look at the perfectly laid-out lesson plans and obsess about checking each one off….completed. Oh, how far I’ve come!
Maybe you can relate. If I am describing you, please don’t be discouraged. The moment you find what works for you and your children and stop comparing yourself to every other home-teacher, is the moment you will start blessing your children. Take time to really find your children’s interests. Help them to grow THEIR areas of interest and hide ‘teaching’ in them. Watching them pursue their passions and gifts gives me great contentment as a mom. After all, we aren’t raising children to be good children. We are raising children to be great adults!
Science is a popular subject at our house! Both of my girls are captivated by God’s creation. They are constantly wanting to know how things work and how things grow. Needless to say, I have endless help with my garden and animals (talk about science-in-action).
When tackling our unit study of insects, the subject of butterflies was their favorite topic. Then again, who doesn’t love butterflies? I asked the girls if they would like to see the process of metamorphosis live and they squealed with excitement. I starting searching for metamorphosis kits and chose one simply for the timeline we were on. After all, we didn’t what to raise butterflies just to drop them off in a blizzard. We ordered this kit and waited impatiently for it to arrive (2 days later).
The kit was perfect! The girls were a little disgusted when they saw the tiny looking caterpillars that came in the feeding tub. Somehow they thought the entire process woulf be cute and cuddly. My hesitant daughter did manage enough courage to pose for a picture though.
The directions were completely ‘dummy-proof’ and allowed us to bring our textbooks alongside us each step of the way. The entire process took 25 days and it was 25 days of pure excitement. Each day there was something new to engage in. Even I found myself running to the caterpillar container each morning to see how much they had grown from the previous day.
Once those hungry caterpillars had their fill, they attached themselves to the paper-vented lid. We waited two days after the last one attached itself before moving them into the new garden enclosure that came with the kit. Make sure your enclosure is stocked before you move the chrysalides…trust me!
We gently moved the enclosure to our school office where we could keep a close eye on them. This was a quiet week as everyone anticipated the emergence of our beautiful butterflies. It was as if they realized we had gotten bored waiting on their appearance and then bang….butterflies! My youngest and most observant, discovered our new little treasures first. From there, it took 24 hours for all five to break free.
The next three days we got to enjoy them at a distance from their enclosure. We watched as their fragile wings slowly dried. As we watched them give their wings their first, long stretch, it made us want to stretch right along with them. It took about one full day before they seemed to show any kind of activity. They found the fruit slices and sugar water within the first day. The girls envied their diet of nectar. What a rough menu to have!
When the ‘release day’ arrived, I can honestly say everyone was excited for the little guys. I was surprised that no ‘pet requests’ came up. That confirmed to me that the science-in-action lesson served its purpose.
We all felt privileged to watch one of God’s mysteries unfold in front of our eyes. Stewardship is a character quality that has to be developed, especially when you live on a farm. I was so happy to see that form of character transferred right over to these beautiful insects.
I hope you are able to engage with your kiddos in this project. Every time they see a beautiful butterfly dancing in the wind they will be taken back to these special times.
Watch our release video!