Neurons Lost and Found Along the Way

Last week had all the makings of a busy one for us: my extended family was in town, my nurse practitioner was out of town, Dave had several project deadlines, and the kids had their usual activities. I spent the week running from one thing to the next, barely remembering to get gas in the car and dinner on the table. I did, however, take time to savor the small moments that make my life “alive”: those connections, like neurons, that strengthen as they are used more. Soaking in the sun as my baby niece swam in the pool for the first time, or listening to Dave discuss his breakthroughs as he tackles projects in his mind while he executes them. Sitting with a patient grieving the loss of her husband. Laying down with my son who lost his fish, or stopping to hug my daughter, one more time. Lounging on the couch while my daughters excitedly showed me their project – a Minecraft model of ancient Jericho.

Each of these moments, these connections, served to remind me how our life as a family has evolved.  Dave and I homeschool the kids together, and we both work part-time.  Summers are really no different, other than we use more of an unschooling method, trying not to do any formal instruction. Our kids explore what they want to –  we sweeten the pot by giving Renaissance Festival money for writing book reports – but otherwise they are free to do as they choose.

Keeping up with their inquiries is challenging, and here’s where homeschooling with a partner is immensely helpful. Truth be told, my brain cannot immediately recall practically anything outside of practicing internal medicine. I did years of high-level math, U.S. History, Latin, Greek, chemistry, physics, and (non-human) biology. My kids will come to me with questions about the structure of molecules, the timeline of Roman history, the evolution of snails – you name it. Questions that years ago, I might have been able to answer from memory. However, years of medical training and practicing have crowded out those neurons for more important, day-to-day activities (such as remembering 20 different passwords to access the medical records systems that don’t speak to one another.) My internal medicine neuronal connections have strengthened over time, while others have faded. Dave, based on the diversity of his business, can certainly recall much more than I can off the top of his head, but even he has a limit to what he can retain.

So, when the kids come to us with a question, we decide, on the spot, whose “area” this falls into. Biology – mine. Anthropology – Dave. Chemistry – mine. Writing – Dave.  Colonial History – me. Calculus – Dave. Even if one of us can’t recall specifics of what the kids are wanting to learn, we are likely to have at least some distant neuronal connections in there that we can dust off and help flicker to life.  We also do what all good homeschooling parents do – we teach the kids how to find and learn the information themselves. Efficient retrieval, assessment, and synthesis of information is a core value skill for both Dave and I, since we use these skills every day in our jobs. We also like to model for the kids that we don’t know everything we’ve studied (I’m certain at least half of what we both learned in medical and graduate school 20 years ago is now inaccurate anyway) and show them how we find answers to our own questions.

As we homeschool together, I sometimes picture Dave and I as halves of one brain. Strengthening connections in ourselves, between each other, and with our kids as we learn – and re-learn – about the wondrous, fascinating world around us.

We are participating in a blog hop this week through Gifted Homeschoolers Forum on “Homeschooling With/Without A Partner.” Check out the other blog posts on this topic!

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One response to this post.

  1. […] Neurons Lost and Found Along the Way – Chasing Hollyfield […]

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