We have lots of chipmunks in our yard. They have an endless source of food in the chicken coop. We’ve seen them dart out of the coop before. This morning, when I went to let the chickens out, I saw two of them sitting near the compost, waiting. They were actually sitting there patiently, about twenty feet away, staring at the coop door and waiting for it to be opened. Testing how close they could get without being chased off. Trying something new.

kimberley beyeaOne of our drop-in visitors at the Nook today was a woman who is likely going to homeschool in the fall. Her kids are in school now but had a ped day, so she brought them to the Nook to scope out the homeschooling community. I remember making similar efforts to get to know this community before taking the plunge myself. She told me that she had tried public school, alternative school and, this year, private school. She’s actually a public school commissioner, teaches at her children’s current private school and had volunteered in the other schools. She’s gone to great lengths to make the best of each system—even so far as to develop a project for an alternative public school, backed by hundreds of families, only to be told “don’t give up, maybe next year”…year after year. Meanwhile, her kids get older. She’s tested and tested with the data before her. Now, she’s ready to try something new.

jack-in-the-pulpitAs parents, whether we homeschool or not, we’re testing. Very few of us (if any!) have all the answers, and we’re constantly testing to see what will work for our kids, in our families, at our time, with the resources we have. Everyone comes to a different conclusion. The important thing is to care enough to test. The chipmunks are looking for their next meal. I’m looking for ways for my children to reach their fullest potential and enjoy doing it. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. I’m testing. Without testing.

The Nook has been a test. When I signed my name to that rental contract, I was holding my breath. Fourteen families, I told my friends. We needed fourteen families to cover the rent.

tree swallowtree swallow nest

And we haven’t stopped testing. The Birdwatching Club put up a birdhouse on their first walk, a test to see if they could attract some inhabitants. A couple weeks ago, we saw some tree swallows and the beginnings of a nest. Today, they found two eggs in the nest!

bridge testingThe Project: Science group tested their popsicle stick bridges today. Kate helped the kids with spanning two chairs with a bridge and then adding weight, calculating the load at each time. I was amazed! They must have done a terrific job in the construction because, at first, we could not break them. I even told the kids to stand on them! We did finally break a couple, but there are a couple still standing. Kate’s going to bring more weights in next week so we can keep the experiment going.

adding weightstrong bridge









A beautiful day like this one out on the farm provides lots more informal things to test. How fast can you send the duck to the end of the line? What’s the best way to herd a goat? How many kids can you fit in the tube slide? How many bubbles can you blow in one shot?

water games picnic veranda

Oh, they test in other ways, too, as we all know. Zahra and Noah were seriously testing my patience this afternoon when a disagreement about who was going up and who was going down ended in crying and a bloody ankle. Sigh. Let’s just hope that the results of that experiment have been noted and that they’re ready to try something new.