Tiny Green Shoots

snow storm, spring bulbs 029

A homeschooling year is a great deal like writing a book: there comes a day when you realize that, barring some asteroid strike-level cataclysm, you really are going to finish it. It’s going to come to a conclusion of some type. You’re over the hump.

I’m feeling it right now. I’m a seasonal person. I tend to enjoy the living hell out of the first month of any season, accept the second with grace, and volunteer to pack its suitcase and drive it to the airport by the third. So when I see tiny green shoots emerge from beneath the snow in our garden, it dawns on me. Spring is here. Oh, it will still be a snowy horrorshow here in Colorado from time to time, but the seventies are going to make a guest appearance this week, and the shorts are going to come out of the closet.

What does it mean for us to be on final descent into the summer capping our first year of full-time homeschooling? It’s a great time to look back and think about what happened, and what didn’t.

Nobody freaked. Nobody. I was thinking someone would (Vegas odds were on me), but it just…didn’t happen. No one threw a rod that they weren’t taking part in any traditional-school stuff; we did our own versions of Halloween and Valentine’s Day, and Christmas was probably more fun for them (especially given that they each had a tiny USB-powered Christmas tree for the month of December). Nobody pitched a fit that we were doing things differently, not even our newest arrival, A.

Everyone grew. You’d hope they would, in a year, wouldn’t you? But in years past, by this point in the calendar year, there’s been trudging. There’s been grudging. There’s been I’m-not-budging. We’ve watched the lights go out by the time TCAP rolled around, watched them tilt slowly off their toes in their education and back onto their heels. The juice has been sucked from the orange. Not this year. It’s March, and they’re still designing social studies projects with the same vigor they were in October. They’re still throwing themselves into swapwriting with the same creativity and collaboration they had when we were outside, WiFi hotspot-writing under the huge tree on our greenbelt path in September. They’ve even – dare I say it – come to peace with the subjects they don’t like. Historically, by this point, those subjects were out on a plank with a cutlass in their backs.

Our definition of ‘school’ expanded. School ‘went’ a lot of different places this year – on long walks, on bike rides, on museum trips, on park afternoons. Everywhere we went, we talked, Googled, learned. School is a construct of geographic convenience: kids are gathered together in one place not because it’s the world’s greatest learning model, but because it makes sense to centralize something that’s traditionally dispensed one-to-many. Take that factor out of the equation, and what we’ve learned is that school is everywhere that curiosity exists.

Our love for each other did, too. You don’t see much of your kid in an educational setting in life until you work with them in a homeschooling environment, and I wish everyone could see what we’ve seen this year. It’s funny: there’s ‘take your child to work day,’ where we provide our kids with a window on what we do in our jobs, but there’s really not a ‘take your parent to school day.’ Sure, there’s volunteering opportunities, and parent-teacher conferences, and such – but how often do you get to see your kids at their jobs? I love what I’ve seen from them this year – they’re focused, diligent, caring, collaborative workers that want to learn, want to grow. I love them all the more for that.

It’s easy to forget, in the depths of winter, that green shoots are coming. It’s almost impossible to conceive of the true arrival of a new season until it’s upon us. We’re going to do this – and next year, we’re going to do it again, and we’ll learn new lessons next year, too.

I’m glad for the tiny green shoots, though. They remind me, in no uncertain terms, that this year’s particular voyage is nearing its end, and to enjoy every moment of life and growth that the spring will bring us.

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