One of our favorite television shows is Chopped. The premise of the show is that 4 professional chefs compete in 3 rounds of intense “chefery”. These challenges test their creative skills, food knowledge, and time management.
It’s like the foodies version of MacGyver. Whereas MacGyver saves mankind (or some unsuspecting city) from certain doom with a wad of gum, bent staple and dryer lint, the Chefs on Chopped fight for their professional lives by conjuring delectable dishes with things like Haggis, canned spam and gummy bears.
I’m still waiting for the episode where the chefs are presented with MacGyver’s wad of gum. Now that would be a show.
In our delight-directed homeschooling adventure, I admit there have been times that I have felt the pressure of creating this living and vibrant homeschool experience out of seemingly pitiful resources at my disposal.
I have come to understand that my enemy in this is my own expectations.
Let’s talk about this for a minute.
I have read about bright and shiny homeschools on bright and shiny blogs. These homeschool parents have beautifully crafted homeschool experiences for their children. They seem to hum with efficiency and productivity.
When following their homeschool year I am amazed. “Pumpkin” is learning … at age 4! She is playing the cello and knitting scarves for Christmas presents. “Cookie Pie” is deep into a study of Ancient Civilizations. He is 10 and is single handedly reconstructing the Colosseum from toothpicks. He wants to tackle the entire ancient city of Pompeii next…complete with the volcano.
I’m lucky if my son can find his pencil most days.
It is equally frustrating when finances and resources are limited.
How much money are these folks spending in tooth picks and yarn?
The beauty about Delight-Directed homeschooling is that it is truly about the kiddos.
No ideas? No money? No way?
Let’s take, for example, what happened to us a few weeks ago.
We were at the library. I told Josiah I wanted him to choose 9 non-fiction books with topics that looked interesting to him. Granted, 5 out of those 9 books were football related, but we have learned to encourage him in what interests him.
One of his finds was a book about the Titanic. As he thumbed through it he began to reminisce about a trip we took to the Titanic museum a few years ago. We had purchased a few souvenirs; some art work, a reproduction of a newspaper reporting the disaster and the “ticket” he received upon entering the museum.
We looked for more books about the Titanic and then searched Netflix for a documentary to watch. He became curious about icebergs and we looked up an experiment he could try here at home. This led to a study about the North and South Pole and we watched a fascinating documentary about a group of people who worked in Antarctica year round.
All of this because he found a book that looked interesting.
I recognize that for some of us to allow such freedom in learning can be a stretch.
Sometimes it is difficult not to base our expectations of our homeschool experience on what others are doing but there are some things that we can all do:
- Make sure your library card is up to date. Visit the library often. Those lovely people should know you and your family.
- Stock your craft cabinet and start saving items that can be turned into musical instruments, architectural structures and other curious creations.
- Keep your kitchen stocked with vinegar, baking soda, mineral oil and other common household/chemical experiment items.
- Get out and about if possible. You don’t have to take expensive field trips. Volunteer at a nursing home. Visit an art museum or show. Attend a concert in the park. Take a nature walk.
- Visit with a veteran about his or her experiences. Take a loaf of zucchini bread to an elderly church member.
It can be surprising what kind of learning will happen by building relationships and experiencing the beauty around us. Upon learning that a beloved resident from a Nursing Home where we volunteer had been part of intelligence gathering during WW II (not that she talked about it much!) that our son became interested in learning more about that terrible war. She graciously allowed him to paint her fingernails bright red [he was ten] and the education that happened from that relationship couldn’t be measured in dollars and cents and test scores.
You, homeschool parent and teacher, are the most valuable resource your child has. Not the best stocked cabinet or trendy teaching aide can ever compete what you yourself bring to your family’s educational experience.
Hang in there MacGyver, and keep that wad of chewing gum handy.
Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
I would also love to invite you the community inspired by this series, as we strive to inspire, encourage and empower our readers in everything homeschooling.