We live in the country. Steady breezes blow across the plains, an endless expanse of sky stretches broad and blue, and woody groves beckon young and old alike. We awake to the cackle of chickens, the mewing of a half dozen barn cats and the melodic strains of birdsong. The great outdoors are rather like another room in the home and during milder weather we spend the majority of our time in that “room.” The children engage in outdoor play and all sorts of shenanigans…the small piles of dust and dirt that I regularly sweep out of my kitchen give testimony to their antics in God’s Playground…
But it’s not idyllic, though it might seem so. There are no paved paths for skating, scooters or bikes. Popped tires from gravel and rocky dirt trails are a regular annoyance. There’s no concrete, no basketball or tennis courts…and we do miss those things we took for granted for the many years that we resided in a more urban setting. Still…we wouldn’t go back. As a wise man once said: “A day in the country is worth a month in the city…”
But I do have an active group of children…and while none of them are interested in playing team sports, all of them desire to learn. We are big basketball fans (Go, Wildcats!) and although all of my young ones enjoy watching the game, none of them have ever done more than dribble a ball and shoot a few hoops with friends. So we signed up for a homeschool gym class at one of the local (actually not so very local!) recreational centers. On activity sign up day, I perused the list, found a gym class that would fit our schedule and accommodate ALL of the children and promptly enrolled them. They were excited…none of them has participated in a group gym class since our co-op days in Kentucky. They were looking forward to meeting other homeschoolers and were enthusiastic about learning a few new things.
So you can imagine our surprise when we showed up for our first class and discovered that we were the only family who had signed up for that particular hour! Our instructor, Thomas, told us that a large group of homeschoolers met on another day and we were welcome to change to that day if we wanted to…but then he said: “Hey…you’re here. Let’s go play!” The children proceeded uncertainly towards the auditorium, as the gym had just been mopped and waxed. Thomas quickly set up a couple goals and proceeded to teach the children the fine art of floor hockey. He’s an amazing instructor! And the children loved him so much, they begged to stay at our current hour so they can have his undivided attention. One of my older boys calls him our very own personal trainer and Thomas seems to enjoy his small class! I thought they’d miss the company of other children, but I’ve never seen them behave more cooperatively with one another. It’s worth everything. And it affirms my feelings that most of the time it’s my perception, not theirs, that they want to be with other kids all the time. They do enjoy company and relish opportunities to interact with friends. But they seem to understand that it’s a real privilege to have the focused attention of an instructor and they seem to understand how much more they learn with real one-on-one instruction.
And that, my friends, is the beauty of home education! Focused attention and one-on-one instruction…it makes a world of difference to our children and they are smart enough to know it!