The further I get into this homeschooling adventure and the more time I spend perusing booklists and looking for good books at the library, the more I feel I am benefiting from homeschooling as much as the boys are. I have always loved to read, so I count it a privilege to “sit around” reading books aloud to my children that I never read or had read to me when I was young. Reading was important in my family when we were growing up, but there just wasn’t that much leisure time for it. When we were off school in the summers, there was yard work, garden work, and housework to be done most days. And if we did have time to play, we’d always want to be outdoors as much as possible.
I remember reading Little Women, Stuart Little, the Little House on the Prairie books, Judy Blume books, and even trying to look clever by picking up a book by Isaac Asimov from the library (!). I’m so glad I have a chance now to read many books that I missed out on when I was young: The Yearling, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, etc (although I saw many of these as Disney movies, I never knew the ‘real’ stories).
We’ve also been learning about famous composers and artists which I never learned anything about until the past couple of years. I’d been to an art exhibit or two and a few classical music concerts as a college student but couldn’t recognize a single piece of classical music (until my sophomore year when my dear roommate used to wake me up with Mozart’s Eine Kliene Nachtmusik when I ignored my alarm clock). Today I had Vivaldi playing while #1 son worked on a drawing and I suddenly felt so glad to be homeschooling because I am learning so much myself.
The artist we are studying is Rembrandt and we are getting ready to study Johannes Vermeer. As I searched for some books in the library about these two Dutch painters, I picked up a thick art history book on a grand scam in which a small-time Dutch painter named Han van Meegeren passed off his paintings as original Vermeers and made a fortune selling his fakes to Nazi army officers. Now this is not something to read to the children, but it is a fascinating, well-written story through which I am learning history of Europe during WWII, some art history, and a thing or two about how forgers go about their ‘business.’
People often ask me if I work. To which I usually reply, yes, I do! I’m working during almost all of my waking hours–if not doing housework, then teaching the boys; if not planning a Sunday school lesson, then organizing an event for the homeschool group; if not reading to the boys, then reading for my own pleasure and intellectual stimulation. I can’t imagine working as anything else. Some may think I am too homebound, spending too much time with my children, or somehow stifled as a person because I am a homeschooling stay-at-home mother. I don’t feel that way at all. Put me in an office, give me meetings to attend, ask me to get dressed up every day and send my children off to spend the day among strangers–THEN I would feel stressed. I am in a place now where I am constantly learning and growing and teaching–and while I am not being paid any money for this, I am gaining an education far beyond what I got in all my years of studying. I’m really thankful I have the chance to live in this great freedom.