My kids suckered me into giving them the whole day off from school since today's veteran's day and all the schools have the day off. I was fine with that because I find with life- schooling/ homeschooling/ & almost unschooling that some of the best lessons take place after school hours. They're often the lessons I never think to blog about. They're often lessons I don't even really think of as actual lessons but I know they still count. Last night, for example, Ian had a very important lesson in washing dishes. He had quite the chip on his shoulder about washing dishes since that's not his normal job and he tried to threaten his way out of it. He was belligerent and mouthy and I warned him that those dishes would stay in the sink until they were cleaned; no eating, no fun, no karate, etc. until the dishes were done. I also warned him that our dishwasher could mysteriously break and then he'd have to wash ALL of our dishes by hand for who knows how long. Needless to say he finally washed the dishes. He grumbled and complained and I stood near him reminding him that we aren't always going to love our jobs in life. He had a hard time getting the pans clean and thought that by wiping the sponge over them he was done. I reminded him that any job worth doing is worth doing right. I then showed him some food on the outside of the pan and he complained that it wasn't even where the food goes. We talked about mold, how to clean properly, and why we use hot water to wash dishes. I brought out some steel wool and even some baking soda to show him other tools we can use while cleaning. He thought it was a pretty harsh lesson but cleaning and cleaning properly is a vital skill and one we'll keep working on.
Like all parents of kids, my husband and I are constantly working on the boys with their manners and behaviors. I don't know if I'm sexist or it's just my warped perception but it seems like those are lessons that are so much harder with boys. I can't believe how many times a day we talk about keeping our hands OUT of our pants, not picking our noses, not burping (especially not making them extra long and loud or trying to burp words), not making our farts as loud and as long as possible (especially when we're at the dinner table), not spitting, and other gross behaviors that we don't like to see. It never ends and I like that I can work on them continually throughout the day during school hours and long after. I often have to remind myself that it's these small mini lessons that have nothing to do with school and school subjects that are some of the most important lessons. These are the kinds of lesson that will shape the attitudes and behaviors of my boys. These are the kinds of lessons that will determine who my boys become.
Today we were focusing on giving since we have a local homeschool family that needs help and all my boys are pitching in to help me prepare foods for them. Even Evan is old enough to help with small things like washing grapes and making a fruit salad. I didn't care if they did help out in the kitchen or not, even their ability to play and keep themselves occupied is a help. They see me pitching in to help out and know that that's what we as human beings need to do-- help each other out. We dry each other's tears, pick each other up and encourage each other to keep going.
There are lesson that are about school and school topics that take place after hours too (or when you have a day off from school). We had a few mini lessons during dinner last night. We were talking about the Oklahoma postcard we got in the mail and Alec, who had been too engrossed in his book to hear Ian reading it out loud, on our drive home brought it to the table to read out loud again. We had never heard of the Redbud tree or the scissor tailed fly catcher bird that are the state's tree and bird. We looked up photos of them on my laptop and compared the tree to cherry blossom trees. Alec taught Ian that the cherry blossom trees were a gift from Japan and that they are the trees in Washington, DC. We also looked up a picture of Mistletoe (the state's flower) and compared it to Holly. We had a nice little math lesson when my husband and I played Yahtzee with Ian. Ian added up all his own dice rolls and his total scores. It sure didn't hurt that he won by a landslide with three Yahtzees! Alec spent most of his night buried in his book eagerly soaking up book 3 in the Warriors series. I guess that "extra" schooling we do at night would be similar to going over homework after school for public school kids except my kids WANT to do this work and don't even seem to know that they're learning. As I point it out to them the more we go on this journey the more they realize that learning happens in many ways at many times.
Today the kids were eager to get karate and I loved hearing how fun it was and that they had a new favorite teacher. They worked hard and are trying to master a new set of skills. I could hear Evan counting nice and loud a good half step behind the other kids in the class but he didn't care. He was trying his best and following along. We listened to our book on CD in the car and Alec spent most of the morning absorbed in his book. The younger two boys went to play gaga by themselves while Ian and I stayed home. It was a weird feeling being down two kids but I knew they were in good hands and having fun. Ian and I delivered the food we had prepared and played another game of Yahtzee. I was a great day off from school.