My husband and I are “city people”. We both grew up in a rural environment, and while we have fond memories of games of hide-and-seek in nearby cornfields and knowing trees by their ease to climb, we can both also recall a sense of isolation from an age long before we knew what ‘isolation’ meant. We yearned for more connection – to friends and places and the opportunity for adventure. Now don’t get me wrong… There is SO much adventure to be found in the great outdoors, not to mention freedom. We had so much freedom! Freedom that isn’t afforded to my city kids. But we still felt like something was missing.
The first chance we had, we both ran fast and far to big cities, hundreds of miles from home. We have since settled in this midsize city, still hundreds of miles from our childhood homes. And we absolutely love it.
One thing that we keep coming back to, again and again, are the opportunities to be exposed to…so much. To museums and science and art and history. To food from all over the world. To a library system so comprehensive it blows my mind and has yet to disappoint (and I search for A LOT of books). And, as we grew our family and then decided on homeschooling, on how easy it is to utilize all our city has to offer as a living classroom.
Our middle child, Linus, is an intense, sensitive kid who loves with a passion that burns bright and hot. He lands on a topic of interest and consumes every morsel of information he can get his hands on. But as he’s only four, he is dependent on us to feed it to him. In the past six months, we have all learned a huge amount about snakes, dinosaurs, and Star Wars. (The amount of knowledge available to be learned about the last topic has proven particularly impressive, as my husband is a huge nerd and knows the series inside out. Alas, he has found he had pockets of missing knowledge. Linus has ensured that that has been corrected.)
The love of all things reptilian, past and present, has led to many trips to just one of our amazing local museums, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (affectionately referred to as ‘the dino museum’ by our two-year-old, Rupert). Once inside the massive doors, our children lead the way, knowing the exact turns and hallways to go down that will navigate us to their sweet spot, the Dinosaur Hall. At this point, Linus will find a docent to start asking his extremely detailed questions, while our oldest, Calliope (6), will begin to sketch some of the exhibits. I’m not exactly sure where this habit comes from, but she has a special notebook just for that museum, and it is filled with lovely observations. And this is such a huge part of why we love having this opportunity to homeschool – we get to watch each child react to a new topic, a new setting, a new love in his or her own unique way. And as the three kids are fairly close in age (6, 4, 2), what one loves often becomes what they all love, and they each take turns dictating what this day’s or week’s or month’s new passion is going to be.
My husband and I often joke that we don’t have a plan, per se, as to how we are going to do this homeschooling thing, that we’re just winging it. In reality, we love learning, and know that perhaps our biggest goal will be to instill a love of learning in our children. If they leave our nest with a thirst for knowledge, we will have done right by them. And in these early years, we are following their lead. Their passion is the driver, we’re just along for the ride.