Thursday, October 31, 2013

Homeschooling Kids Through Summer Work Projects

Living in Asia all these years, my kids miss out on usual stuff most American take for granted... like picking berries in the field or carving Jack-O-Lanterns or diving in a pile of crisp yellow leaves.... or riding in a wheel barrow.
Sure, they learn stuff here... how to fold paper cranes and their piano playing is becoming quite adept... but there's no substitute for tape measuring wood, cutting with a saw, and hammering with nails.
Things like... digging a hole and laying support beams and pouring concrete so you can etch your name... all at the base of a swing set that should be standing long after their cousins graduate and leave home.
But there's other things too... My brother Grant and his wife keep a couple of black cats around the house.  They don't feed them... ever!  So that cats have reverted back into their savage killer instincts.  Once while we were visiting, the cats chased a rabbit into the grass and broke it's leg with one swipe of the paw...  then they dragged it off into the Christmas trees for dinner. The following morning, a pile of rabbit brains and intestines and heart and liver was stacked perfectly on the front door Welcome Mat.
Those are things my daughters (and most city kids living back in Asia) could never comprehend.
Xian's American Journal- "We had Uncle Grant's birthday today and went to eat pizza. Then to their house.  We played "Duck, Duck, Goose" and "Marco Polo" and "Starfish" and others and even went swimming.  At home, we ate tuna melted grilled cheese sandwiches..."
I mean... how awesome is that journal entry?
While vacationing back home in Oregon, I found my kids so eager to work.  They wanted projects... to take up shovels and rakes and carry stones and build anything I could throw at them.
They understood there was a purpose to the hard work.... that labor had a payoff.
And that's also something about America I miss so much... that work can have significance and meaning in its accomplishment.  After a full day watching my kids toil away in the sun... I don't know who has learned more.
Sitting around the fire pit that night roasting marshmallows... I marveled at that... and didn't want it end.  Not even for a game of backyard catch.

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