This week’s column:
People often ask me what supplies are needed to homeschool. There are fancy programs to purchase, tons of textbooks and any number of printable worksheets. But when it comes to necessities, I have some solid advice that I’ve gleaned in the past 13 years.
You don’t need to buy a cow in order to homeschool, but it sure does help. Cows, as you recall, have calves, and calves are wild little things. This is good because skittish calves help children learn geometry.
It isn’t that calves are particularly gifted. They are pretty simple creatures, actually. Calves just have no intention of getting into a trailer, so they run, and we have to head them off. That’s where the geometry comes in. Yes, we stopped loading cattle one day this past week to discuss lines of intersection, angles and a few other geometric principles. We’re weird like that.
Having a cow also helps when it comes time to teach idiomatic expressions. People say, “there is no use crying over spilled milk,” meaning that there is no use grumping about something that has already happened and can’t be changed. My kids learned that the easy way. When the cow kicks over the milk bucket and spills the milk all over the ground, no amount of crying will put the milk back in the bucket.
Getting the milk successfully into the refrigerator provides the opportunity to discuss another idiom. “The cream always rises to the top” generally means that those with good qualities will succeed. Some city folks might not know that when you put fresh milk in the fridge, the cream in the milk floats up to the top of the jar.
We get a good inch or two of cream on top of the milk from our Guernsey cow.
This is a good thing because I need cream every morning for that other homeschool essential: coffee. In order to be a functioning homeschool mom, I need to get up two hours before the rest of the family and have my cuppa joe in the quiet part of the day. With my morning java, fresh cream and honey warming my belly, I can be relatively pleasant the rest of the day.
Serious homeschool moms need a denim jumper so they can easily be identified in public. People might ask why your kids aren’t in school when they see you at the grocery store, but if you are wearing a denim jumper, they just know. You are definitely a homeschooler.
A lot of people believe that a great bonus to homeschooling is the ability to do school in one’s pajamas. One friend I know even gets matching PJs for the entire family each year at Christmas. I’m not that organized, and I figure that it wouldn’t be much of a surprise after the first year. My kids are smart like that.
Sadly, my kids don’t get much chance to do school in their pajamas because they have to go outside and take care of the cow who gives me the cream to put in my coffee so I can be civil.
To cover some basic math, new homeschool moms will need to put on that denim jumper, pack up the kids and go buy some flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, butter, vanilla and chocolate chips. Every homeschooler alive uses cooking to teach some basic measurement and fractions. Trust me.
And you know, if you give a homeschooler a cookie, he’s gonna want a glass a milk to go with it. You don’t need to buy a cow for that, but it sure does help.