What is a homeschooling mother to do…when someone calls your home and one of your children answers the phone, and you hear them say, “Um, not much, we haven’t really been doing school lately.”
You and your husband look at each other with horror, jointly imagining raised eyebrows and plans to notify the Department of Community Services on the other end of the line.
“Did you remember that I read you a chapter of a classic children’s novel this morning?” you immediately ask – with what you hope is not even a hint of condemnation or defensiveness – when they have handed on the phone. “And a poem by an Oxford don? Did we not listen together to a movement of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” Suite? You read aloud to me from a Scholastic textbook on Saturn. And did we discuss a picture of a bronze statue of Saturn as Father Time? What about our little session on the DNA of caterpillars and butterflies? And the lesson on pruning the grapevine, right before lunch? Do you remember the documentary we watched about Scotland, and the radio programme from which you took two pages of notes on astronomy at breakfast time? What about watching your brother install the wiring for an air compressor on a vehicle this afternoon? Have you not also both begun and completed a craft project today? Not to mention the hour you spent picnicking on the roof (yes! A lesson on risk management!) while you and your sister each read your own historical novels, with a view! Have you also fed the ducks and collected the hens’ eggs and ridden the pony and baked two recipes from scratch? And did you not then follow the echidna on his twilight waddle through the paddock just now? Did we discuss current affairs from the newspaper at the dinner table as a family, followed by a time of Bible reading and prayer? And has this litany of educational opportunities not been procured solely from the past 24 hours?”
You pause breathlessly and notice your hands are on your hips.
“Oh. Sorry,” said child apologises. “I forgot about that. But I did tell them I did some vacuuming!”