I haven’t blogged a lot this fall, and even less about Nook days. But it occurs to me that Nook days are one of the things our non-homeschooling friends and acquaintances—as well as perfect strangers—are often the most curious about. It might be the answer to the ridiculous “socialization” question; but more than that, the idea that homeschoolers are getting together in large groups is intriguing to those who may not know even a single homeschooler. It brings homeschooling out into the light. It suggests a larger segment of the population than the government is willing to admit. It glimmers with the prospect of community that those who have been toying with the idea of homeschooling are seeking.
This was certainly the case of the man in front of us in the line at the post office the other day. He asked Noah how school was going, and Noah quickly replied, “We homeschool!” This is my kids’ standard response, which I find so funny. How is school? We homeschool—so, obviously, it’s awesome?!? I’m not sure what they’re implying, but they’re proud to say that we homeschool. The man was intrigued and proceeded with the line of questions I usually get: Do you hire teachers, or are you the teacher? Does the school give you books? Do your kids have to take tests? How exactly does it work? All asked with true curiosity, usually ended with praise of some sort.
Anyway, this man noted that he had considered homeschooling, but his son is an only child, and he was worried about him being alone all the time. So I, of course, told him about the Nook. Not wanting to hold up the line, I jotted down the Nook’s email address for him and wished him luck in his education choices and lifestyle choices—the latter being something I stress when I talk to those considering homeschooling. The Nook is a big piece of the puzzle for me when I’m piecing together my children’s education and our family’s lifestyle.
Anyway, today was a good reminder of why I love the Nook so much. Here’s a glimpse into our day.
We arrived at the Nook at 10:00. Leila went into Jill’s arts and crafts class to make a nature-inspired mobile. (She hung it above her bed as soon as we got home and will fall asleep with the earthy smells of sticks and cedar.) Noah and Zahra hung out with friends while I talked to a woman who is considering homeschooling her daughter and who came to check out the Nook.
At 11:00, Leila and I joined Marie-Céline’s French class. We went out on the farm looking for different coloured leaves and then took them back to glue them on a huge drawing of forest trees that Marie-Céline had prepared. During this time, most of the older kids were “crossing Canada” with Cindy—learning about the provinces.
At noon, we had a quick lunch. Zahra and Noah scattered to eat with their friends. Leila and I ate in the back room. I talked to Kristin and Luba about our new math program.
At 12:30, we jumped on a wagon ride. Mr. Quinn showed us a type of apple that bleeds red into its flesh. It’s bitter but good for drying and decorating. Then he took us to the pumpkin patch. He let everyone choose a pumpkin or squash and then he told us about the different varieties. He scratched faces onto a couple of them, much to the children’s delight. He told us a new way to cook spaghetti squash, which I’m trying right now.
Back inside, it was time for Creative Writing. I read the kids a poem by André Breton, the great surrealist poet. We talked about stream-of-consciousness writing. The kids who have been in my creative writing workshops before are used to having to write for 10-15 minutes straight, but we took it a step further this time. They literally were not allowed to stop. They each made eight cards (two animals, two foods, two machines, and two things that hurt), and were given the first line of their surrealist-poem-to-be à la Breton: I know the general outline of…
They each chose an emotion and then wrote for fifteen minutes straight. If ever they stalled, they had to pick up a card and immediately start writing about it. The results were fantastic! Noah, whose writing skills are a real obstacle to his narrative voice, dictated his poem to me. My favourite part:
I know the general outline of confusion.
A crocodile riding on the back of ten horses,
A sunken ship,
Eight eyebrows and one eye…
I picked up a chair and threw it across the room.
The chair fell on me…
Pure gold. I’d put the whole thing here, but it’s destined for the Nook’s first literary magazine, coming out in May 2018.
And what would you do after a full day at the Nook? I’m already in pyjamas, just waiting to crawl into bed with my book. Zahra, on the other hand, is sewing sandwich bags (a skill she learned from talented Kristin at the Nook). Noah is making a robot (perhaps he’s drawing from his experience in the robotics class at the Nook).
Leila, a girl after my own heart, is relaxing in the bath.