“Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.”

So there’s a little Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for you this evening.

One thing I really love about homeschooling is the flexibility of our schedule. We’re always ready for an adventure. If a great opportunity comes up, we shuffle the schedule around—or even just drop whatever we’re doing, and go! If the kids are engrossed in one activity, I don’t have to close up shop because it’s “time” for math. They get to take that activity as far as they want. We’ll get to math.

I champion learning at one’s natural rhythms. I feel giddy about our extracurriculars: djembe, rock climbing, robotics. I feel like a VIP when we have museums to ourselves. I breathe easier knowing my kids spend more time in the forest than in a classroom.

The things that matter most.

Except that…being able to read and write fluently matters a whole heck of a lot, too. Being able to do so in two languages—even better. Knowing the multiplication tables by heart: a skill they’ll use daily. Learning, practising, honing, using skills that progressively advance, that’s setting them up for success. It’s about giving them more options; and it’s about making sure that, no matter which path they take in life, they have the tools and the life experiences to use them to reach their full potential.

And so, for me, perhaps this “thing that matters most” is trying to strike the right balance between the academic work and all the rest. So when Jill called this morning to invite us to go out on the lake with her, I looked over at Zahra and Noah and replied…we’ll do our best. I’ll tell you something: I’ve never seen my kids work as quickly and as efficiently as they did after I told them that we could to Jill’s if they finished their work in time. Writing, math, piano theory, teeth brushed, skates packed, winter clothes on, chickens locked up. Bam.

And look at that! I think this blog is already working to keep me organized, because yesterday, we did geography and social studies in the form of Top Secret Adventures and science in the form of setting up the trail cam that Zahra got for Christmas to capture the movement of wildlife in our backyard during the night. Writing, arithmetic, music, social studies, science, physical education…did I check them all off? Oh yeah—reading. Zahra polished off this novel in French yesterday, and Noah read the Lego Magazine in English (despite the fact that he’s only ever been taught how to read in French!).

Last December marked the end of our Little Passports subscription. We’d been subscribers for three years, so it felt very strange to know we wouldn’t be getting any more of those white-and-blue packages. But my mom set us up with Top Secret Adventures, the logical next step up, and my kids love it. They have to work closely together to get through all the puzzles and solve the mystery. The first month is China. After combing through their China reference book and solving 27 pages of puzzles and riddles, Zahra and Noah discovered that it was Claude Badley who stole a Ming Dynasty porcelain vase from a sampan in Hong Kong Harbor.

china

 

Fast forward to today, and after some school work and some outdoor fun, Noah got together with friends to put the finishing touches on their stop motion animation. That must have reminded him about iMovie, because later, when we had friends over for dinner, Noah tried to convince Nicky what great fun it was to make a movie trailer. Nicky lost interest, but Karen was game—and I even played the part of a shadow. More skating on the frozen pond (big puddle?) behind our house, followed by dinner, followed by saying goodbye to friends and getting ready for bed.

Speaking of sleep…the things that matter most.

P.S. The trail camera did take two pictures last night (it has an infrared sensor), but they were too dark for us to see what it was. It calls for more experimenting with the camera’s parameters!