Learning is Still Taking Place Even if School is Not

By Tonya Fridley, LDSHE Volunteer

If my mother-in-law had the slightest idea that we did not have our first official day of organized schooling until the fourth week of September—and that we did only one full week in October—she would be paying me a visit.

We have been in the process of building a learning center in our backyard. We started this project this past spring. It has been hard—but rewarding—work: clearing pine trees to create room for a concrete slab; scheduling contractors to build the basic structure; modifying the structure to meet our specific needs; researching, buying, and receiving all sorts of things to put into this learning center; decluttering the house to make room for all the shipments… Only a portion of our “school days” have been spent on “school” each day. But more learning has taken place than it might seem.

My thirteen-year-old has been making daily plans of what she wants to get accomplished for her learning, and she has been making it happen! One day, I walked into our kitchen at 4:30 a.m. and found her fully dressed and in the middle of a science experiment. On occasion, she will come to me to help her with math or to proofread a story or paper she wrote for language arts. Her self-discipline and her love of learning show!  

My nine-year-old, the least academic one, spends a lot of her time creating things. She is also the one who can answer all my baking questions, quickly and accurately doubling recipe quantities, converting teaspoons to cups, etc. Her love for being creative, cooking, and providing service to her siblings shows. My seven-year-old—who has always had a love of reading, doing copy work, and making up her own math problems—has been studying a sign language book I found at a thrift store. Following its instructions on how to sign scripture verses, she has gotten quite good and often thanks me profusely for getting it for her.  Her love of learning and trying new skills shows.

My boy, who very recently turned five, has shown that he isn’t just playing and catching frogs, but he is quietly observing and absorbing information as well. A few weeks back, for family home evening, we played How Well Do You Know Your Family Member, and I asked “Who is my favorite conductor?”  Without skipping a beat, my little boy popped up with “Leonard Bernstein!” I was quite surprised since we hadn’t watched any of his stuff for at least six months. His love for taking things in around him shows.

I feel peace when I take a step back and see that my children are, in fact, learning important lessons and developing their character and talents in spite of us not having an organized/structured school setting right now. I do look forward (in the very near future) to where we are all gathered around together again for our devotionals, scripture, and history lessons. But until then, I am at peace, knowing that they are still learning. It’s a good lesson for me.