I’ve been a bit missing in action for the last month or two, and for those of you who haven’t guessed, it’s all due to a bit of a recent career shift. From here on out, if my posts start to sounding to you like those of a kindergarten teacher, you will be correct. It’s an exciting new chapter for us, but a busy one, with lots of adjustments to new schedules and more time spent researching literature and art projects for unit studies than composing blog posts. I hope to get back to posting more often eventually, but we’ll see!
Of course, I’ve always been my child’s teacher; that comes with the territory of parenting, as it does for every mother. Who else will teach her how tie her shoes or to look both ways before crossing the road? But choosing to be the one who also teaches her I-before-E-except-after-C (except for in a few odd cases, as I’ve been reminded!) and why mushrooms grow on trees, to take the full weight of responsibility for what the world calls her formal education, is another realm altogether.It makes sense: who else in the whole world cares more about her success than I do?
It’s exciting: learning is an adventure I’ve always loved, and I can hardly wait to take her along to all manner of new and thrilling places.
It’s serious business: it will be my fault if some vital branch of learning isn’t covered.
That’s why my husband and I agreed that a few days retreat was in order for the teacher before this all officially commenced. A working retreat, in which to lay out lesson plans and familiarize myself with workbooks, yes, but also to recharge myself for the important task ahead.
And the first thing I did along that order? Take a hike.I sensed, going into the retreat, that my ideas were good but jumbled. If you know anything about the world of home education, you know that the amount of resources available are both incredible and rather overwhelming. I needed some vision to narrow my focus down from all those fabulous options to what would work best for us—and I always think most clearly while walking. And if the walk winds through sun-dappled woodlands around the edge of a sparkling blue lake? If there’s not a sound to be heard but the crunching of leaves beneath your feet and the wind in the oak tree tops? All the better.
I took a book along, and on a short break, sitting in the warm grass with my back against a sturdy oak, I read these inspiring lines:
“Little by little,” an acorn said,
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed,
“I am improving every day,
Hidden deep in the earth away.”Little by little, each day it grew;
Little by little, it sipped the dew;
Downward it sent out a thread-like root;
Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.
Day after day, and year after year,
Little by little the leaves appear;
And the slender branches spread far and wide,
Till the mighty oak is the forest’s pride.
“Little by little,” said a thoughtful boy,
“Moment by moment, I’ll well employ,
Learning a little every day,
And not spending all my time in play.
And still this rule in my mind shall dwell,
Whatever I do, I will do it well.“Little by little, I’ll learn to know
The treasured wisdom of long ago;
And one of these days, perhaps, we’ll see
That the world will be the better for me”;
And do you not think that this simple plan
Made him a wise and useful man?”—Author Unknown
The acorns rolled under my feet as I hiked on, and the seed of vision had been planted that I was looking for. Jumbled ideas melded into a plan in my head, and far-sighted goals broke down into the steps A, B and C that would get us there.
It was in honor of the role this poem played in my lesson planning process, that “A is for Acorn” was chosen as the topic of study for our very first week of school. For my students, it would look like nature hikes to identify oak trees, and making leaf rubbings, and listening to delightful stories about squirrels who love acorns. We would find out what acorns tasted like and learn about famous oaks of long ago.
But for I, the teacher, it would be an inspiring reminder that the great task I was beginning would be accomplished just like that of a humble acorn becoming a mighty tree: little by little. Letter by letter, number by number, line by line, book by book, concept building on concept, my young students would put down foundational roots, reach for the sky, and grow strong and mighty into a wealth of skill, wisdom and knowledge. And for what? The goal of the poem seems quite adequate to me, that the world will be a better place for having them in it.“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Did you know?
…that multiple people groups consider acorns a delicacy (Korean, Greek, Native American)?
…that acorns have frequently been used as a substitute for coffee?
…that the name of the nut is derived from the Gothic word akran, which means “fruit of the unenclosed land”?
…that one of the greatest visionary statements of the Old Testament was made beneath an oak tree? Read about it in Joshua 24.
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD!” (Joshua 24:15)