Monday, October 4, 2010

Chicken Soup Advice...ON Homeschooling

My friend, Donna has a friend who is new to homeschooling and getting a little nervous with some first year angst.  This is what she wrote for her~I LOVE it, and wanna share it with you~enjoy!

And GO make some chicken soup!

Yep.  The doubts come and usually about the same time of the year - right around weeks six to eight.  Happens again right before Christmas, early spring and then right before the end of the year too. 
However, the first thing to do is take a deep breath - maybe even a couple of breaths.
Now, bear with me a second.  I like word pictures and I think this one explains it best.  When I get a bit down about my choice of homeschooling my daughters, I pull a chicken out of the freezer and make soup.
And this is why...  Right after we started school a couple of years ago, I decided to save some money and really try to make all our meals at home.  This particular week I had planned on soup and decided to pull out one of my favorite cookbooks and make some stock.  One of our meals was going to be old fashioned vegetable soup in homemade chicken stock and I had planned on having the soup on a Tuesday but needed to start the stock the day before.
We started with just water in a big pot.  Added the chicken, some basic uncut vegetables, and seasonings then set the pot to simmer for a while on the stove.  After a long while, the house started smelling wonderfully but what was in the pot didn't look so good.  The chicken was coming off the bones, the vegetables were getting all soft and limp and there was a greasy skim on the top of the water from the fat in the chicken.
We turned the pot off, drained out the spent vegetables, separated the chicken from the bones and tossed the bones.  Then the stock had to cool for a while because we weren't going to make soup until the next day so we set it in the refrigerator. 
The next day, when we opened the container all this creamy white fat was floating on the top.  We took a big flat spoon and skimmed the top of the stock clean. 
Now the stock was ready to use but didn't look too fancy.  It had a decent flavor but wasn't anything particularly special. 
We set the pot back on the stove, added fresh vegetables all cut into proper sizes, tossed some of the chicken meat back in and simmered that pot for a couple of hours, stirring every now and again.  When we sat down that night to have dinner, I admit that was some of the best chicken soup we had ever had.  The next day was even better as we added some homemade pasta to the pot and a bit more stock. 
What do soup and homeschool have in common you might ask? 
You put in all these really wonderful ingredients into the pot and put the pot on to simmer on the stove but after a bit, when the ingredients have given up all they can give you are left with this wonderful broth and the stuff at the bottom of the pot to discard.  Then after the stock cools there is a bit of fat that drifts to the top and you have to skim it off.  You are now left with a delightful stock that can be turned into just about anything in the world - it adds flavor to some ingredients and becomes a melting pot of goulash for other ingredients.  
But, because the process is such a long one, every now and again you have to stop and remember where you were, where you are and where you are going, especially when the doubts drift to the top.
Then you skim the doubt off the top, bag it up and toss it out with the trash.
Is there an assessment I do to make sure we are on target? Not really a test per se but rather I stop and look at what we have accomplished.  Are we moving forward?  Are my daughters learning what we had planned for them up to this point (whatever that is at that particular time)? Have we met all our goals?  Is there something that we aren't doing at this point and is the reason we aren't accomplishing as much as I thought we were going to accomplish because I set the goal too high or because I need to adjust my teaching so they can learn?
Now, tale another breath and slowly let it out then look at what you posted...
You said that you and your daughter have met every goal you have set. 
Read that again - You met them. You didn't fall short.  You aren't behind.  I'm betting that you not only met them but went a bit past some of them too and kept right on pressing forward.  I assume you have goals that you expect to get to throughout the year and you will meet them too.
Is she learning?  If she has met the goals you set, then she is.
Are you both happy with this experience?  Is there something you can do to tweak this way of teaching/learning?  If you are happy and she is learning then take another deep breath, shove that doubt into a little bag and toss it out with the trash.
Good soup takes time.  So does homeschooling.  The stock is made from the love you have for your daughter (water) plus the ingredients you add (the curriculum) and all the seasonings you add (field trips, co-op classes, all the extras you do throughout the year) and at the end of the year, you have this phenomenal, one of a kind education that your daughter will be able to eat for many years to come.  The spent stuff at the bottom of the original stock, before it is cooled and cleaned is the curriculum that you find doesn't work or worked well enough but now it is time to move on to the next step in the process.  The fat is the doubt that will come but after a cooling off period - sometimes just an hour of assessment - congeals and drifts to the top so that it can be spooned off and tossed out. 
The doubt will come.  It is inevitable.  Best thing to do is to take an hour, look through what you have done, see that you are continuing to grow and dismiss the doubt as quickly as you would the fat in the top of the stock.
Keep going.  I'm sure you are doing very well and your daughter is doing fine too.
And maybe go get a chicken and make some soup.  Bet you'd both enjoy a good home-ec lesson too... :)
Just keep cooking!

Thanks, Donna for giving me permission to share this with my readers. Hugs!!

1 comment:

midwest mama said...

Thank you for sharing this...we all need a pep talk now and then.