“So what have we got planned for today, Mum?” Sophie asks me.
“Well, nothing really,” I reply. “We can’t go anywhere because of the bushfire, but I guess I don’t have to keep such a close eye on the fire updates. I could read to you, or we could watch a DVD together.”
Sophie smiles. Doing something together? That sounds good.
We’ve been living next to a huge bushfire for 8 days now. Life has not been normal for all that time. You could say we’ve been experiencing a bit of a crisis.
I’ve hardly done anything with the girls all week. It’s hard to concentrate on homeschooling when there’s the possibility we might have to evacuate our house at any moment. We’re all longing for life to return to normal. We want to watch and listen and discuss and enjoy our days together once more. But despite us not having had much interaction this week, I am sure the girls have learnt just as much, or even more, than they usually do.
When life is normal I do a lot of strewing to enrich my children’s environment. But I haven’t done any of that for days. Does that worry me? No. It hasn’t been necessary. How much more enriched can our life get at the moment? We’ve had fire fighters and fire trucks in our street. Helicopters have flown overhead. We’ve watched fire reports and discussed our fire survival plan… Life cannot get any more exciting and interesting. So I don’t feel bad about not strewing.
I don’t even feel bad about spending so much time on my computer, my eyes stuck to the fire updates. My girls haven’t sat on the sofa with blank looks on their faces waiting for me to appear and tell them what to do. No, they have found loads of things to do on their own. They’re used to directing their own learning. Yes, lots has been going on despite life being difficult.
I remember another difficult time in our life. I remember when our son Thomas died. He lived for only a day and changed our lives forever. That crisis was a lot harder to deal with than a bushfire on our doorstep.
I couldn’t think about homeschooling when my heart was breaking. I didn’t even try to. For 3 months I concentrated on nothing more than my grief. My children played many, many computer games during that time. Well, it was more like one computer game was played many, many times. Our computer resources were rather limited in those days. Even today if I hear the music belonging to that game, I feel tearful. It brings back some painful memories. When my children had to give up their computer seat to an impatiently waiting sibling, they read and played and amused themselves. For weeks and weeks my children did whatever they wanted without any direction from me. I didn’t read to them or take them to the library. We didn’t go on any educational type outings. I didn’t share anything with them. Or did I?
I actually shared one of life’s biggest lessons: the loss of a loved one. They learnt all about death and suffering and later, joy and healing. They learnt what life’s all about. They never could have learnt that lesson from a book. It’s something, just like a bushfire, you wouldn’t want to ask for as a learning experience. But sometimes we don’t have a choice. Things happen. And because they do, we all learn.
So it seems to me that there is no reason to worry about homeschooling during a crisis. Just go with the flow, and use the crisis as a learning experience. Yes, life is different. We might want to do more with our children than we can. We may yearn for ordinary days, learning together in our usual way. But learning? That will still happen.
“Hey girls!” I say. “I’ve just ordered seasons 2 and 3 of Five Mile Creek on DVD.” The girls’ faces light up. “They’ll take about 2 weeks to arrive.”
See, our crisis is almost over. The fire is still burning but I’m able to look ahead. I’m thinking about strewing again. I’ve been online shopping instead of checking on the fire. Well to be honest, I checked on the fire at the same time. I have hope our house will still be here when the postman arrives with our DVDs. Yes, in two weeks’ time, probably even sooner, life should be back to normal.
I can’t wait.