I have to confess that I’m a pretty serious person. If I’m not careful, I can go through an entire day without laughing. Combine that with a Type A personality and I could have been an extreme taskmaster in our little homeschool. Fortunately I married a man with an unbounded sense of optimism and joy and through his good example I learned to lighten up. I figured out that the lesson plan wasn’t that important, but my children’s excited questions were. I found out that my plan for the day wasn’t nearly as critical as savoring the moment.
In fact, I came to understand that my primary responsibility was to create an atmosphere of joy and wonder in my home so that everything the world had to offer paled in comparison.
Let me give you an example of what joyful learning looks like. When my daughter, Natalie, was nine, she began writing special notes to her Daddy. At the time, Rick was working horrible hours, usually leaving in the wee hours of the morning and not returning until late at night, often after the kids were in bed. It was a very difficult time for all of us and my little girl was searching for a way to stay in touch with her Daddy. I would catch her sneaking into the kitchen after bedtime to prop a note up on his coffee pot where she was sure he would find it. These little notes were written on construction paper with colored gel pens and trimmed with her little scalloped scissors to make the edges pretty.
Usually Rick put the note in his pocket and took it to work, but one day he left it for me to see. I think he knew I needed a little encouragement that day. Here is what greeted me that morning, Good morning papa! What do you have going today? I just have the usual today, school and music practice. But I don’t know how usual you could call it since there is something new and different to learn and do every day. I think that today in science I am going to make homemade concrete and make bridges out of it! I think it will be fun! I hope you have a good day, Papa. Thank you for working so hard to support us. Thank you also for being the best Dad in the world. I love you, Natalie
My daughter’s joyful exuberance gave her Dad the courage he needed to keep laboring long hours and gave me the impetus to continue working hard to make school a wonderful experience. Here is my question for you today. Does this describe your school? If there is not something new and different to learn and do everyday, you need to think about making some changes!