Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Hands-On Thanksgiving

As a homeschooling mom, there are times when I get this complete burst of joy and pride over the fact that our children are having an educational experience that most children will not have. A couple of weeks back, we had that type of experience which gave me that type of feeling.

One of the moms at our co-op opened up her property for a Thanksgiving dinner. Her property had several acres of land and woods and an area for their livestock- 2 cows, about 6 free range turkeys (who I do not expect to survive the week), 5 horses, and more chickens than I could count.

We went, excited to be with our co-op friends, but not expecting the wonderful experience we were going to have.

While the moms who signed up to help with the prepping and serving of the food were working, there were teenaged girls that were helping by watching the smaller children.

I was so in awe of these girls who weren't hanging out in some secluded area of the property looking depressed like the entire teenage world was resting on their shoulders and threatening to fall off. They were smiling, playing with the babies, and doing their part to help this event be a success. Some of these girls were even helping in the kitchen and enjoying conversations with the adult women they were helping.

During this time, as people began arriving, the kids were playing. There was no organized game of any type. No groupings of children by ages. Just kids playing. Together. Across the ages.

And I never once heard anyone arguing!

Five minutes after we arrived, I lost track of Addie. She had run off with several girls who were in older elementary grades. I knew she was safe and wasn't worried in the slightest. I just kept my eyes opened for the occasional flash of brown corduroy as it flew passed.

Once the women who had signed up to help with the food were just about ready, Miss Sandi had all of the children come to an area that was already set up for a lesson on the history of the Pilgrims voyage, first year in the New World, and the first Thanksgiving.

The children all sat on blankets. Again, not grouped by ages, but every one learning together.

When Miss Sandi taught the children that Pilgrim children had to help with the chores, she put the kids to work. She gave grain sacks to a few of the older kids and then told all of the children to go around the property looking for pine needles to stuff the sacks with. A girl in Jr. High took Addie by the hand and the two of them ran off to collect pine needles. A few boys came over, climbed up in a tree stand, and pushed down a bunch of needles for the girls to give them a hand.

Everyone was called back together, and some of the dads were asked to test out the sacks which would have been used as pillows and beds.

Then the kids were given another job. They were sent to find large sticks that could have been used to build a simple home for the Pilgrims. Again, the kids were off in search of these long sticks and sturdy fallen branches. As they would find the branches, they would bring them back to Miss Sandi, who showed them how to lay the sticks on top of each other in order to make a simple structure. The project ended once the kids had built the "house" about a foot tall.

After the lesson was over, we prayed for the meal and enjoyed an early Thanksgiving.

All 70 of us.

During the clean up time, once again the teenage girls were right in the mix of things, helping with babies or in the kitchen along with the adults.

As I watched Addie interact with her co-op group that day, I got this overwhelming feeling of love for what I do as a homeschooling mom. There are definitely things that I lack and areas that I lack in. Yet God fills all of the gaps with others whose strengths are my weaknesses. As the teacher/mom, my job is to look for the opportunities that God is affording me. Sometimes it means that I have to step out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it means just being open to an opportunity I see.

The gift of being able to homeschool is definitely on my list of things that I am thankful for.

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