One of the main themes in Love in the House (1 of 5) is creativity, what Wendy and I call “an image-of-God trait.” Creativity separates us from animals. Our shelter, our food, our choices–they all require creativity. No other creature on earth can create anything, only humans can. This is what makes us unique, created in the image of God.
Cynthia, Lydia and I spent some time in California with the Stout family. Marie was last week’s director for the Concordia Challenge (what was the largest homeschool speech & debate tournament in history). We arrived a couple days early and observed a bit of their homeschool. I was intrigued with Don’s weekly labs in his garage. See, Don is a patent attorney with two science degrees, so he and his boys–along with a few homeschoolers in the neighborhood–spend one morning a week to “do lab.”
I doubt he followed a formal science curriculum, and if he did, he steered his own course while just dabbling in it. Don loves science, and he creatively worked a lab into his busy schedule. He and his boys would wake up early once a week for lab, and Don made sure he scheduled a late arrival to the office that day. What fun!
The 16 hour drive home gave me time to think through a lot of things. I wake every morning with my boys to read Scripture, something we’ve been doing fairly consistently since August. We cover a chapter and talk about it. A great way to start the day. The boys and I then straighten up the house and make breakfast, waking the rest of the family to get the day started.
Now, creativity takes creativity, not conformity. I’m not a science guy like Don, and it would have been awkward for me to announce a weekly lab with my kids. (What happened to Dad? the kids would wonder.) I am an English teacher, a publisher, an editor and writer. Lab experiments wouldn’t go over well for me, but sentence structure, grammar and usage–whoa, baby, now we’re talking!
Time is also an issue. I’m a very busy guy. I barely am able to squeeze in the Bible lesson and breakfast with the family. How can I squeeze in language arts lessons? This is the weight I’m supposed to be carrying in our homeschool, and I hate to admit it, I’ve been a pretty lame teacher lately.
Tension. Time versus responsibility. Perfect breeding grounds for creativity. We read Matthew 21 this morning, and after a short discussion about Jesus praying, eating, sharing, buying, we launched a short lesson on suffixes and verb tense.
And we really got into it! I drew columns on notepaper and talked about the five verb tenses. Even I got a little confused, so we did a few Internet searches on the spot, discovered 12 verb tenses, and focused on the four “present” tenses, whipping up a lesson on these. As we whipped up eggs and bacon for a big breakfast, we talked about helping verbs and the ever-so slight differences between the four present tenses, bringing all sorts of examples into the discussion. The boys’ sisters woke up and heard us gabbing about “present perfect progressive” tenses, asking questions and stimulating more discussion.
This is what homeschool should be like, fully taking advantage of parent-child opportunities, spending time together and naturally working through the details of education. It reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:7, a favorite verse among homeschoolers, about teaching the laws of God: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Or when you’re making breakfast. Or in the garage before heading to the office. You fill in the blank: when is the best time for you to press on your children the valuable lessons in education and spiritual growth?
I’m chalking up a daily activity for the kids and me. We’ll “do English” before heading to the office.