* Disclaimer: This is a hot-button topic in some circles. I’m not casting any stones in this post, just giving the run-down on why we do what we do.
Other than pretending to believe in Santa for much longer than was socially acceptable because I knew I was my parents’ last shot at jolly elf high jinx, there was no part of the Santa thing that was especially traumatizing. Not the finding out or fretting about how the security of our house was apparently easily compromised. None of that stuff. Matthew on the other hand felt a little lied to. Nothing major though, I don’t think.
We decided before we had kids that we wouldn’t do Santa. This can be kind of socially stigmatizing, I’ve found. People either think we are religious nuts (maybe true?), or that we’re giant grinches (not at all true). Now, we do celebrate St. Nicholas day. We learn about St. Nicholas, set out our shoes, and the like. The girls know that someone they love is placing treats in their shoes in the spirit and traditions of St. Nicholas. They know that Santa is a character fictionalized from the real St. Nicholas. They know that some children believe with all of their might that Santa is real, and we are the holder of a secret that could make them very sad and upset, and so we are to keep that for them.
The main reason we don’t “do” Santa in our house is because I think he is distracting to the real reason for Christmas. I’ve been accused of stealing the magic from the girls’ holiday season by not participating in this custom. But what, my friends, what is more magical than the Feast of the Nativity of Christ? What is more wondrous than God, come down from Heaven, born of a virgin, to save us all from certain death? What is more beautiful than the depth of that kind of love? They are not lacking any wonder in their lives. Their lives are wonder.
So, to my girls Santa is a fun tale. Sometimes we see him out and about. I even have some vintage decorations that were my father’s that have Santa on them. The girls keep the secret, and we can have some fun with it, but I’m glad when someone asks them about Christmas, their first thought isn’t about Santa, but about the birth of Jesus.
there are hard days.
And sometimes, there is this.
We’ve been talking about national landmarks and symbols in our Social Studies lessons lately. We’ve learned all about the bald eagle, Liberty Bell, American flag, etc. Today was our White House Day.
Pretty much I’ve just been feeding her facts and we’ve been doing a craft on the symbols each day. Information and crafts are her two favorite things, so this little unit has been a hit. Today we decided to do a little video tour of the White House. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to work, but the website did have an awesome little activity on the oval office.
The first step was proclaiming Adeline the president. When I said, “Adeline! You were elected president of the United States!” she began to nervously giggle and shake a little. With those words, my girl thought she was actually the president. Goodness, after we typed her name, the internet even said it! She was giddy, but then the gravity of it all hit her pretty fast.
“Wait! I don’t meet any of the requirements! I’m only six! I don’t make good choices!’
She was obviously relieved when I told her that it was just for pretend and sake of the activity. She loosened up a bit and was able to properly settle into her new office.
Activity found here.
I am so grateful to those of you who have expressed that my last post was encouraging to you. I have been asked questions about how we do what we do with the other two little ones, what subjects we cover, and what curriculum we use. I know there are moms of six, seven, or more that do it, but I thought I would share today what a homeschool day looks like for us.
Today it looks like this:
This is Adeline having a biscuit and a smoothie with her Papa at a restaurant. She’s currently on a hard reboot.
Monday and Tuesday were great homeschool days. We made a model of the layers of Earth out of clay, we learned about the Liberty Bell, took a virtual tour of the Statue of Liberty, and Adeline spelled words like ‘couldn’t’ and ‘wren’ without issue. But today my love woke up in a foul mood…and I kind of did, too. She refused to do her chores properly, refused to pick up a giant mess she helped make, and was sassy and contrary. I yelled. She yelled. She cried. Papa swooped in to save the day, taking her out for a reboot. Today she will dust the church while he has a meeting, go to the barber with him, perhaps visit parishioners, and take the car for an oil change. She will have time without me and with her (excellent) Papa. I’ve enjoyed time with the two littlest Moore girls and even a little quiet time to myself as I write this.
It is hard to be together all of the time. It’s hard to do work when you’re supremely grumpy. When the two are combined, sometimes everyone needs a day off. I’m glad I didn’t send her off to school today knowing that she would be a stinker to her teacher. I’m glad we have the flexibility to say, “We are not at our best today. We will make no progress.” I know that’s not 100% the real world, but a go-easy day sometimes does far more good than pushing on.
Hopefully tomorrow I can share an outline of our homeschool day, but today we’re taking a small break. Though our aim is something beautiful, and I believe our reasons for homeschooling are good, it is a shaky ride some days.
I get a bit defensive when I talk about homeschooling with people. I worry that Adeline (and the other girls when their time comes) will be viewed as weird. I worry that I appear judgmental to those who choose to send their children to school outside the home. I worry that people will think that I don’t teach enough, that we don’t have enough paperwork to show adequately what we are learning, or that I am neglecting the girls’ social or academic well-beings.
I find myself often answering the question, “Why do you homeschool?” Goodness, sometimes on hard days I ask myself the same thing! So, in no particular order, we homeschool because:
1. I don’t want to have to choose where to live based on school districts.
Charleston has good schools and not so great schools like any other city. I want to choose a home based on its functionality and price, not on whether the school is a good fit.
2. I don’t want Adeline to lose her love for learning.
Adeline works significantly above grade level in some subjects and right on par in others. I don’t want her to be bored during school. I don’t want her to be at the mercy of other kids’ abilities. I want her to learn in whatever way is best for her. I want her to explore topics she is intrigued by. If she cannot get enough information about volcanoes, by hang, I want her to soak in as much as she possibly can.
We get asked a lot why Adeline isn’t in school when she is at the grocery store with me during normal school hours. My general response is, “She is at school. We homeschool and she’s learning right now.”
3. We are Orthodox Christians and church is important.
I am not saying that Orthodox Christianity and public/private-schooling are mutually exclusive. I am saying that our faith is rich in feast days, and many of those days fall during the work/school week. It was such a blessing to me on my birthday (also the Nativity of St. John the Forerunner) that Adeline was able to be in liturgy with the family. It is wonderful to receive communion together on these days and then to spend much of the rest of the day learning about Christ and His Church.
4. We want her with us.
Maybe it’s selfish, but I want to choose the people who are my child’s main influence. I want it to be her Papa and me. I don’t want to see her for an hour, drop her off at school, and then only see her for a few more hours before bed.
Also, if an especially awesome trip pops up, but it’s in the middle of the week, I want to be able to go and for her to go with us. Adeline’s nouno was able to visit us after a few years of not seeing us, but he could only make it on a Monday. No problem! We spent the day together. We had some old friends visit, but they could only come on a Thursday. No problem! We could all be together without worrying about what she may be missing at school.
5. Our view of the purpose of education is a bit different from the school system’s.
My goal is not for my kids to go to college and get a high-paying professional job. My goal is for my loves to find what they want to do with their lives, work at it, be fantastic at it, and be incredibly happy. If that is going to an Ivy League college and earning a doctorate in physics, beautiful! If it is going to a technical school and becoming a mechanic or crafts(wo)man, beautiful! If it is learning an art, being a musician, etc., I could not be happier. As long as it pleases God and can pay the bills, I am on board.
For this reason, I am not terribly concerned with standardized tests, class rank, grade point averages, or the like. I want my children to be free to find what it is they love and then to master it and find joy always in their work. I want our homeschool to support that by sampling a bit of everything and allowing them to poke around in those things they are more inclined to. I want them to feel that balancing a budget, learning to plant and grow their own food, and identifying trees are part of their education. I want them to be well prepared for the real world. I want their faith to play an integral role in their education as well. By learning the lives of the saints, and why we do what we do in Orthodoxy, I pray they will become and remain strong women of God.
Everyone has their reasons for the education choices they’ve made. I know my friends who have chosen paths other than homeschooling have made very sound decisions for their children. I am so grateful to have the ability to choose to educate my children as I see fit, and I’m glad to be learning right along with them.