One thing that I’m sure countless homeschooling families have had to deal with upon deciding to homeschool is their extended families. Any time you choose the road less traveled, there are often questions asked, usually coming from a place of concern, sometimes a place of judgment, others a place of unfamiliarity. This isn’t a post about that decision or navigating those questions, though. This is a post about family, specifically extended families, and a best case scenario in which they become a source of support and balance for this homeschooling family, where the world is our classroom.
I think I have a pretty amazing husband. He’s my partner and best friend in every sense of the words. But I also have amazing in-laws. His parents are two of the most loving, kind, and compassionate people I have ever encountered. And while we have chosen an urban life, with sidewalks and many neighbors and city buses, they chose a rural life, with chickens and sheep and trees and green for as far as the eye can see. My mother-in-law is a farmer on a small-scale, sustainable farm. She is truly an inspiration. She possesses a vitality and love of learning that I can only aspire to. She also welcomes us to the farm with open arms, putting all three kids to work immediately, cultivating in them a love of nature and dirt and an understanding of where our food comes from and why.
Last month we headed to the farm for a few days, and as always, the kids spent morning til night outside, exploring, climbing, digging, breathing, living. It’s the beginning of the growing season for my mother-in-law, and this trip included baby turkeys, planting potatoes, and thousands of iris in full bloom. It was beautiful.
It’s so easy to second guess the choices we make for our children. Are we doing it right? Are they getting enough? In the quiet moments, late at night, the doubt creeps in, making me wonder if we’ve given them enough space to explore, enough opportunities to be wild and free. But then I remember the farm, an oasis of growth and open spaces. I remember my children’s grandparents, who are so full of knowledge and joy, and are so ready to pass it on, to share their love of stories and words, of music and art, of sustaining life and working the land. We may not have it all for them right here in our backyard, but we have places to take them for new experiences, to expand their horizons and nurture their interests. We have a whole farm to escape to.