My children’s first Volcano in 2008
It’s 1:30 a.m. and I am writing this blog quietly in our home office while my whole family is tucked neatly in their beds. I spent the last few hours prepping for my eleven-year-old daughter’s advanced calculus class… okay, seriously, don’t believe that for a moment! Besides the fact that my daughter is just plodding along in her own grade’s math program, I was actually just catching up on emails, checking my blog posts and texting with my sister. I mean if we are going to be honest with each other – let’s just say this is as real as it gets. Some nights I am a shining example of homeschool motherhood and on some others… well, life happens.
Many years ago, my family and I sat down to watch the TV movie, “Volcano,” which is about a volcano erupting in Los Angeles. Now, I usually laugh my way through that movie (being originally from southern CA) but when one of my daughters did not surface from her ocean of pillows for fifteen minutes… we decided the best thing to do was to turn off the movie. Our children’s concerns about the possibility of having volcanic activity in Montana were all we heard about for days.
So, being the ever clever, brilliant, full of great ideas, SUPER (catch my sarcasm?) homeschool mom, I decided that we were going to have to learn about volcanoes. We checked out some books from the library and found a recipe for volcano eruptions online. The recipe actually worked and “homemade Lava” or “Llama,” as my kids mistakenly called it, bubbled out of our clay-covered glass bottle. Go ahead and picture the “red hot llama sliding down the side of the volcano.” I know I did. It ended up being a super fun learning opportunity.
While reminiscing about this first volcano project from our early days of homeschooling, I learned a little something about our homeschool daily life over the years. Shocking Homeschool Reality #1 ~ “Our life is not often perfect.” If we only had a behind-the-scenes camera follow us around, one would see that our life is more like a random sitcom than a “how to craft” You Tube video.
Recently, I have been in the middle of sharing the instructions for a craft project and had to stop to help my three-year-old with his “I am mostly potty trained except three times a week when I have a random accident” potty training issue. My children’s moods can also vary from day to day. One child may be excited about the project the day before but when it is project time… the “Naw, I don’t want to do it,” voice comes out. Ever had one of those moments? We have been interrupted by phone calls, door bells, the little one trying to sit on the table while we are painting, bad moods, hyper moods, and all kinds of other moods in between.
And if we are going to continue to “be real” (thanks homeschool speaker Todd Wilson for the phrase!) while I may have great ideas like the volcano project occasionally… sometimes my fun extra learning ideas just don’t pan out. Did I tell you about our Sea Monkeys? They all died rather quickly. Our weather station? It’s still in the box and then when we did take it out, it was missing crucial pieces. Gardening? We grew a square foot garden field of weeds last year with only one flourishing zucchini plant. Our ABC Scrapbook? We got past the middle of the alphabet but we still are hoping to finish it someday.
Our school adventure can be loaded with busy work, spelling words, journal entries, math flash cards and odds and ends science projects that may or may not explode. But, at the end of each week, I have to remember to focus my evaluations on all of our great learning opportunities. And I need to stop myself before I start evaluating our homeschool week on interruptions alone.
I have discovered in retrospect that it is not about how much time I devoted to scrapbooking meticulous pages of their childhood memories or whether I taught the kids the art of hieroglyphic origami; it really just becomes about spending time right now with my children whether we are in the midst of chaos or in those lovely serene moments. And not forgetting to take those sweet pictures of the great moments in between…
By: Inger Koppenhaver
Inger and her 8-year-old son in a random fun moment!
Inger grew up in a city by the beach in California, but loves living in her small Norman Rockwell kind of town on the prairie in Montana. She has a Bachelors Degree in Religious Studies and is a published author, a homeschool mom of four adorable children ages 3-11 who also just happens to own a 50′s style café with her mother-in-law. In addition to writing a hands-on K-5th curriculum called Ditch the Desk for Schoolhouse Teachers, Inger also writes consistently for Molly Green Magazine. You can find her online at: http://hidingthepeas.wordpress.com/