Thursday, March 1, 2012

Down Time

Beetle, Toni, and Hoodoo playing "bunnies" with construction paper costumes and real carrots.

Last night, I met a woman at a bridal shower, we'll call her Sarah, and we struck up a conversation. I learned that Sarah is an elementary school teacher. Sarah told me about her sister-in-law who recently had her fifth child and happens to home school as well. Since Sarah recently had the opportunity to stay with her sister-in-law and help with the children after their baby was born, she observed what their home school was like. Sarah told me she had many reservations about home schooling. I asked her, "Why?" and her response was this:

"There was a lot of down time."

We were interrupted right at that moment and didn't get to finish our conversation. Her words have been replaying in my mind over and over again. Oh how I wish I had been able to respond to her comment.

Down time. Isn't that one of the beauties of home schooling? Because quality book learning takes a fraction of the time when a child has such individualized attention, there is so much time left over for children to be children! Since when did play time become a waste of time and book learning become the only valuable form of education? Are children not learning when they use their cleverness to create alternate worlds where imaginary characters live intricate lives together? Or when they write welcome home letters to their daddy on the driveway with sidewalk chalk? Or help make dinner, or bake cookies? As far as I'm concerned, their play time is sacred time. It's a time where they take what they've learned through books and apply it to their lives.

Recent things my children have done during their (dreaded) down time:
  • Built forts with blankets
  • Written and practiced their own play to perform for Mom and Dad
  • Practiced piano (my 7 year old)
  • Played in the dirt
  • Rode their bikes
  • Chased the chickens
  • Traced each others shadows with sidewalk chalk
  • Traced each others bodies with sidewalk chalk
  • Written short stories 
  • Written in their journals
  • Folded an assortment of paper airplanes
  • Written letters to grandparents
  • Taken photos and recorded videos of each other
  • Played a wide variety of pretend games
  • Built towers with Legos
  • Played with toy trains/tracks
  • Begun hand-sewing a quilt for a doll (my 7 year old)
  • Made dice out of construction paper and invented a new game
  • Looked at my old scrap books
  • Danced to music
  • Helped with household chores
  • Created math worksheets for each other to complete
  • Drew pictures
  • Played in the bath tub
  • Made their own lunch
  • Read books
I am very grateful that my children have so much down time. 

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