You can take the mother out of the homeschool, but you can’t take the homeschooler out of this mother . . . especially when it comes to (ta-da) . . . Unit Studies!
Take this morning, for instance, when I happened upon the seemingly innocuous phrase, “Goodbye, and thank your mother for the rabbits.”
Harmless enough, you may think . . . But not for a home-educating parent who thinks in unit studies. She would take this phrase and milk it for every possible drop of teaching content. You will be surprised how much there is!
Let me show you how it works for me, in hopes that you’ll find something you can use, or at least be infected by my enthusiasm. Let’s start with:
1) “Goodbye”: the word originated in the late 1500’s; “Godbwye,” a contraction of “God be with ye”, was soon further shortened to a simple “goodbye.“ To find the reason behind this truncation, have the whole family say godbwye every time they leave the house—or just a room—for one day. Which is easier to say, godbwye or “bye”? Is anything lost in the simplification?
2) “Thank you” and gifts: thank you letters always made me feel sick with guilt; I knew my children should write them, and I really meant to make them, but so much got in the way … End result, everybody felt bad, (especially me) and the letters never got written.
Now that I have 20/20 hindsight, I can do it right: I create a “Thank You Box” with paper, stickers, crayons, envelopes and postage stamps, and make producing one thank you letter per day part of every school day till they are all done. (I find that glitter helps.) The box makes it easy for the children, while envelopes and stamps make addressing and mailing easy for me until the children are old enough to do it themselves. I call attention to articles about letter-writing going out of style, and the children feel proud to be different.
We have fun brainstorming situations where thanks are appropriate. These include Worship of God; thanks for gifts (of time, kindness, money, physical things etc.) Who do we suppose wrote the first thank you letter? What did it look like? Might it have been a scratch on a rock? A whale tooth? A feather? (I like that—a thank you feather!) When have I been particularly touched by a gift? Can I give a gift like that to someone I love? Do gifts always have to cost money?
Google and read out loud the poem ‘Bobby’s Presents’ by Elsie Duncan Yale. Bobby buys things he wants for himself, and gives them to his family members—a baseball for mother, a bat for daddy, a jack-knife for baby . . . Being a thoughtful chap, he realizes that these gifts may not be entirely suitable right now, so he’ll borrow them—just for a while . . .
The poem is, of course, intended to be humorous. But I have a friend whose husband and two adult sons really like Games of Thrones, and just guess what she got for Mother’s Day last year? (and, I believe, her birthday as well!)Perhaps her husband should have read ‘Bobby’s Presents’ as a boy.
So I only got through goodbye and thank you; that’s what happens with unit studies.
Tune in next time to discover what happens . . . beyond the rabbit-proof fence!