These past few weeks have involved quite a lot of travelling around. Interestingly, I found a Facebook page called Home Education Travels, and it is a forum for people who move around a lot whilst home educating their children. Sometimes people ask us how we manage to juggle two part-time (but often ~30-40 hours/week) clinical and academic careers whilst homeschooling, but in fact I think it would be a lot harder to juggle if we were constrained by typical length school days and the academic calendar.
Recent opportunities have included:
1) A conference in Chester, which is a city in the north of England full of Roman remains, old city walls and beautiful architecture. Our hotel was directly opposite the Roman amphitheatre and on several occasions 'Roman soldiers' would pass through. My eldest in particular is fascinated by ancient Rome and so we packed some relevant books and his notepad and magnifying glass.
2) Medical education in Fife. For me the highlight was St Andrews - the ancient cathedral was quite incredible to behold; apparently it was once the biggest building in the country. I was encouraged when the boys wanted to go back to see it the following day, but in fact this was because they had found a dead pigeon, not to do with the magnificent architecture or inspiring history. Ach well... I loved walking along the beach at sunset - so peaceful, so beautiful. It was where they filmed Chariots of Fire, the dramatisation of the story of Eric Liddell who refused to run competitively on a Sunday. The boys know this story, and it brought it to life a little bit.
3) Wild camping in the English lake district. Due to some swaps in our shifts, the boys were able to travel up and pitch camp during the day, and I arrived after dark. We then climbed together with head torches, pitched a second tent in the dark and spent the night on a mountain. The boys have loved reading the Swallows and Amazons series of novels which tell of children who spent their holidays in the Lake District around 90 years ago. They found it exciting that they might be camping in the very same spot! I was impressed at how well they climbed, and how well behaved they were whilst tents were going up and down, and whilst climbing the steep parts. (We couldn't have done this if they boys had been 'in school' or if we were working completely regular hours).
What I love when I speak to other home educating families is how we are all different from one another, and have different patterns, different passions, different perspectives. For us, our life and work cannot easily be separated - it is our medical work that takes us all over the country and back and forward to Africa. Our motivation is to help and serve the most vulnerable, wherever they might be, and this is intertwined with the outworkings of our faith. The boys are involved in all of this, and it brings its own set of opportunities too. Probably all parents who teach have their own strengths - our boys love experiments, which are sometimes very scientific (such as making chromatograms of chlorophyll using filter paper and acetone) and sometimes just seem to involve lots of mess and tipping of water from one container to another. I am impressed by their enquiring minds. Writers such as John Holt really celebrate the natural curiosity and ingenuity of the child's mind, and I so much hope and pray that this hunger for understanding never gets stifled. I see them asking logical questions and searching for solutions, and this contrasts greatly with my own education where I simply memorised facts in order to do well in exams, or re-iterated material in beautifully presented, but completely unoriginal projects.
These past few weeks I have felt very tired, yet in the face of that, the boys have really flourished in some areas. I pray that we have wisdom in the choices we make, in the responsibilities we take on, and that we are able to respond to their questions as they arise. I remain utterly thankful that our family has made the choice to home educate, and even when feeling exhausted, I see so many benefits. Tonight I am simply pausing to reflect, and to celebrate some of the joys of the past few weeks.
My eldest (aged 5) told me the other day that he doesn't want to be a doctor when he grows up. He wants to be an explorer. That sounds good to me!
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.