Monday, March 7, 2011

little boxes

Telescope Kitten by my girl

If someone had peeked in our window this morning, they might've seen something that looked kind of serious, maybe even a bit schooly.


Yes, it's true!

We were having a Morning Meeting. Well, the kids were finally sitting down to munch on their cereal/toast, having slept in, read, drawn, written until 10am, and I sat across from them with pen in hand and some paper. The kitten was jumping on the table to try and eat the kids' breakfast and the chickens were squawking for food at the screen door.

Yeah, your regular sort of Morning Meeting :)

Anyway, at this, our special kind of meeting,

I talked to the kids about our days.

About finishing projects they've started

(and I asked, did we want to keep going with AstroMonday? Yes! the kids said.
And did my boy want to finish his report on the Land of Kyre? Yes! he said.),

about remembering projects they want to do

(and my girl said, Like get my hair cut today! And look for that toy cat!
And my son said, Like finish reading The Princess Bride!),

and about trying to manage our days a little more, so

we can fit in all the things
we want to do

I have to confess,

the things we are "supposed" to do…

At this meeting, I mentioned to the kids something that's been on my mind quite a bit recently. And that's how, soon, I have to give the Powers That Be (aka the State) a report on all the things we're learning and how they fit into all the prescribed boxes.

I haven't had to do this before. Two years ago, as a newbie, an Official Person visited my house. I showed him the kids' stories, their art, talked about self-directed projects. The kids and I chatted and it felt real, organic, like our life.

But this time I have to present a Report. Show samples. Put everything into categories. I can't think how to fit our sweet learning into these boxes. So I've felt pulled and swayed and scared. I've felt drawn into the vortex of Should.

I described the boxes to the kids (called simple things like Maths, Literacy, Science and curious and strange things like HSIE and PDHPE).

I mentioned them so the kids could understand a bit more why sometimes I get all fidgety and say, Howabout we do some maths? Or, Let's write a report on something, shall we?

I mentioned them because I'm still figuring so much out.

But as we talked, the kids and I kept thinking of all the ways our learning totally fits the boxes
(especially the box called Creative Arts—the kids snorted when they heard that one!).

And as we talked, we agreed we're definitely (…well, sort of!)
fitting into the boxes
(in our own delicious, free way)…

So then,

a sort of ease came over me, because I'd told the kids something that secretly kind of worries me,


they listened and understood.

And when I asked the kids if they'd like to set up some goals for themselves,
and manage their time more independently—

to have a sense of what the day was going to bring,
and be in charge of laying their goals out (like clothes on a bed)—

they thought that would be lovely.

So we talked about our goals for the week.

I mentioned mine, and did those goals work for them? Yes!
(Well, mostly yes. Some will probably not make the cut!)

Then they mentioned theirs, and we wrote them all down on a piece of paper.

The kids then wrote the goals they wanted to meet for the day on the white board,
yes, you guessed it:

little boxes to tick on the side!

(They used to love doing this, when I was the one setting the agenda, two years ago. Now they get to tick boxes of their own making. Boxes of a positive kind, I think)

And just like that, the meeting was over…
and it was time to get busy!

Together we picked AstroMonday to start with.

We laid out all our Space books from the library, got the kids' space journals out…

then together wrote a list of all the questions we wanted to answer.

The kids kept wanting to answer the questions as we thought of them and I kept saying,
Wait! Let's think up some more! We'll answer them in a minute! 

My boy wanted to know where water went when it went into space, and how did satellites work, and what was the Moon made of? 

I said, Great questions! And I smiled as I wrote them down because they are so very him. Then I suggested we might like to start with the Big Questions first, then work our way in. So the more detailed questions were easier to understand. And I asked him, Does that make any sense?

Yeah, my boy agreed, that actually does.

So, we finished our list,

called it brilliant, then 

answered the first, totally simple question (not!) of 

What is the Universe and how did it Begin? 

By the time we were done, an hour or so later, we'd searched through books, read countless paragraphs to each other, researched on the internet, talked about different religious beliefs, drawn cute pictures of kittens looking through telescopes (my girl), learned how to quote from sources and discovered it is possible to summarise the Big Bang Theory in one page. 

Yes. We were AMAZING. 

And we were 
so pleased to learn together, set goals together, figure out how to tick (some) boxes together (of the self-made kind and the Government kind), and dream together… 

I guess the day was kind of schooly,
and kind of not…

whatever it was, and whatever box it did or didn't fit in,

the day was


And we were happy.  

(AND my girl got her hair cut,

and my boy finished The Princess Bride,
and there was story writing
and happy maths-ing
and music playing
and drawing
and dog walking

and kitten cuddling.

All of it Yum, and True, and Us.



  1. How wonderful! Sometimes we assume that they don't or can't understand the worries that we have as their parents. I get that way too even though we don't have to report in the state I live in. I wonder when you are doing your blog posts and you are sharing what is taking place in your home (your learning environment) if you had a chart of each "box" to put things in, and simply listed the events into the box they most closely fit. It would not be time consuming because you always have the posts to refer back to but you would watch the lists start to grow and grow under each "box" that you have to fit their learning into..... just a thought.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this. As a newbie this year, I love to read others' experiences. It gives me ideas and confidence. Thank you for these wonderful ideas!

  3. Thank you Jessica! And I know—talking to the kids ALWAYS helps.

    Today, after reading your comment, I wrote a quick list of The Required Boxes and put it on the fridge. As the kids lived their day, I noted when something Fit into a box. It felt so simple. My homeschool diary either gets too detailed or neglected for days, so I end up not seeing how easily we're actually covering what the State says we need to learn.. A little chart-thingy, to fill in as I go, now and then, sounds just lovely. Simple. Thank you SO much for the suggestion!

    And Hi Kooky, thanks for the comment! I'm so glad my words and ideas help a bit! :)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.