Wednesday, April 20, 2016

How Does a Homeschooler Raise a Butterfly?

I love the homeschooler changing a lightbulb joke. You know the one:

"How does a homeschooler change a lightbulb? 
First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. 
Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.
On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill.
Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.
And there is light."

Because some days really are that rabbit-trail fueled. But I worry that homeschoolers see this as the image we have to maintain. After all, we can't just be as good as a public school, we have to be better. Or else the judgemental people we run into will wonder why we think we're so great that the school system that is perfectly fine for their children, thank you very much, isn't good enough for your children. I think at lot of homeschooling parents put a ton of pressure on themselves to make every single thing a detailed learning experience, and not just a learning experience but a schooling experience with something to show for it/prove that "see, we did do school!" And then people who are considering homeschooling see those parents killing themselves to do all the things and think to themselves that there is no way they can do that at that level so they don't try at all. 

Well, in this environment, I'm going to make a very bold confession: we raised butterflies....and didn't do a single learning activity along with it. No printouts, no work sheets, no graphs or growth charts, no journals. We didn't even read a single book about butterflies (and I have several on my shelves!) And this crazy thing happened: the truant officer didn't show up at the door, and my kids still had an awesome experience.

But there's more story to it than that. See, Builder Boy asked for Science for Christmas presents. Two Christmases ago. And he received several science things, including a raise your own butterflies kit; two Christmases ago. Obviously we did not raise them in the middle of winter because we would not have been able to release them and expected them to survive. So we waited until spring. And then with one thing or another, putting off because of weather, and then because I didn't have learning activities prepared, then we lost the voucher, and we moved....twice. Two years passed and my son had not gotten to enjoy his Christmas presents. That's just not right. 
So finally, a few weeks ago, I just did it. I ordered replacement caterpillars. They came and....I didn't have to take care of them. What?! Yup, they came in a cup and instructions said to keep it closed until they were chrysali. My big worry of keeping them alive went down. (I have a bad track record of keeping anything but humans alive.) Once they were crysalized the instructions say to move them the net and mist them with the squirter. I lost the squirter. Thankfully the instructions also said that they would be okay without it and less was better than accidentally over wetting them like I probably would have ended up doing with an improvised attempt. They all hatched just fine. Five lovely butterflies managed to survive me! The boys had a ton of fun observing their "pets" over the weeks. Builder Boy even tried to name them, though I did have to explain that labeling them with stickers so he could tell them apart wasn't a viable option. We fed them the sugar water solution the instructions suggested and some orange fruits, then let them go a few days later. 

And I was left wondering, why had I put this off for so long? We had a lovely experience, and it wasn't difficult because I didn't make it over-complicated. It was worth the money just to get to watch this awesome part of nature unfold in front of us. No papers or other activities required. Now, I definitely want to order some more and do it again; this time with activities. Sometime. But until then we have the memories of this experience that before was just a theoretical occurrence from books. And I'm really glad we finally did it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...