Hello Down There
I hear a voice.
"Hello down there?!" The sound gently bounces off the walls, echos fading into a soft inquiry.
Before responding I pause. The tunnel I'm in is beautiful - smooth curves of sandstone layered on itself suggest magic, mathematics, and marvelous natural mysteries. My children are nearby, exploring tunnels of their own. My son has his Minerals book open to match what he sees in the cave to pictures in the book. My daughter has two dolls and she is pretending they are on an adventure of their own. Each of us is immersed in the experience of exploring the maze we're trying to navigate without a map.
At some point we'll have to come back here because it is extraordinary. So I make a note on the map we're drawing for ourselves. Then I ask, "Did you hear that? It sounds like someone is curious about our rabbit hole. Should we invite them in?"
"Of course!" they reply. Sharing the joys (and the challenges) of living differently is our responsibility and something we are glad to do.
Together we make our way back to the entrance. Sunlight streams down into an underground cavern. In this temperate space we've created a cozy den to relax in when we're not investigating the depths and mysteries of our world - underground or above ground.
We put away the tools we use to explore. Then the kids help themselves to snacks and a drink. He cuddles up with book. She assembles her art supplies and begins to draw and paint. I set the kettle to boil and place tea and cookies on a low table that is surrounded by cushioned chairs and pillows.
"Hello up there! Would you like to come in?" I say.
Our guest climbs down and looks around. Our space has things that are familiar to many families - chairs, tables, art, instruments, books, and art supplies. But it also looks different because the tunnels that stretch out from our home look dark, curves limiting the view of what lies ahead.
My guest and I sit down and begin the tea steeping. A confession spills out. She says, "I've been wondering about homeschool. It seems like public school might not be the right fit for my family."
I listen. It is not the first time a friend or acquaintance has sought me out to inquire about our unconventional life of learning. And in the end, I share wisdom a friend once said to me:
School is just another aspect of your child's life. It is one of many things that contribute to his or her experience of the world.
If it is life-giving then there is probably no need to worry. If it is not, then consider what could and should change in your child's life.
We finish our tea and cookies. The conversation meanders as good conversations do. And before our guest climbs out from our little nook of the world, my children share what they've been doing. Then we say our "goodbyes" and she climbs up and out.
Upon her departure I turn to my children and ask what they're up for. Should we go back to the tunnel? Should we climb out of our den and run free in the sunshine? The possibilities are endless and there is no wrong answer. We will enjoy life and learning no matter what we do.
These days homeschooling itself is my rabbit hole. I muck around in educational philosophy, the logistics of planning, taking my children on "field trips," and connecting with local homeschooling families. Every day I do things that are not practical for many families, a privilege I don't take lightly.
This year, since the start of school, at least a half a dozen people have approached me confessing, lamenting, and curious. They want to know more about homeschooling. They might want to join us. For one reason or another, despite the unconventional way of life I lead, more people are more curious.
And I am so glad to share. Sometimes my enthusiasm gets the best of me and I spin out - responding to their inquiries with long stories and the mention of my favorite websites, books, and local places. Other times I listen and hold the space for my friend to think out loud in my company.
Either way, in regard to a very political topic (education), I am a safe person to talk to. It is OK to question public school. It is OK to choose one way, or the other, or a combination of both. But I won't be surprised, if they have the privilege and the courage to homeschool, that they find a rabbit hole of their own. I expect I might bump into them in one of our tunnels.
This was written as part of the GHFLearners.org bloghop.
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