Sunday, September 20, 2009

Are your kids friends?

Lately I've been noticing one of the biggest blessings of homeschooling. My children's relationship with each other. Last night, Cassie announced something about going to the library to read a book and I looked up to see her, Eric and big sister Stephanie walking out to the extension of our new house where our "library" and my craft room are located.

I looked over at my husband and raised my eyebrows.
"Apparently she's reading them a book." he replied.

Ah! As Les and I walked past the library window to spend some much needed quiet time in our outside garden spot, I looked in to see three blond heads, of various shades, leaning together over a book while Stephanie animatedly read to her siblings. Though I couldn't hear her voice, by her facial expressions and the little one's rapt attention I knew she had a gift for story telling.
I really wish I could capture these moments forever in time.

It occurred to me that not all families get along as well as my children seem to. At least not those portrayed in movies, books and t.v.shows. Nor do most parents want to spend as much time with their kids as we do. (When I say "we" I'm not implying that we are better than other parents, but I'm using the collective "we" that refers to most homeschooling families). In fact on a facebook comment one of my friends was looking forward to school beginning again so that she could get her life back. When I commented that my kids were with me all the time her reply was "I'd rather pour hot sauce in my eye." Now I realize she was probably being funny, but the sentiment is loud and clear. Parents actually look forward to having no kids around when school starts up.

I cannot imagine. I love being around my kids. And for the most part my kids like being around each other. They are normal though, so fights do occur. But they don't last long, and they are best friends when they are over.

Is this a product of homeschooling? Or would my children be as close if they were in public school all day? I imagine that full time school, where siblings are separated into age-segregated classrooms, will find their time so absorbed in school, homework and friends that brothers and sisters will be ignored or forgotten.

In a magazine from my hometown of Powell River, Powell River Living, they talked about an innovative program that took place in the public schools. "Roots of Empathy" families visit a classroom and allow the children to interact with a baby assigned to their class throughout the school year. The idea is to help teach the students empathy for others as they watch the child develop over the year and learn to interact and care for the baby during his visits. As soon as I read this article my thought was "they are trying to bring the home back into the classroom". Homeschoolers have it all figured out already! My older kids were intimately involved in the care of their younger siblings, so the closeness and bonds that have developed are strong.

Cassie loves to comment every time I do something she considers "normal". Like when I told her to have a bath and brush her teeth before going to bed, she commented "like they do in a normal family?" Implication is that we are abnormal. If so, I like it. If abnormal means happy and contented. With my kids as each others' best friends.


Joie said...

we unschool as well, and i do find that my children are best friends and i am always getting comments on how well my children get along and how protective and loving they are of each other.
i also find this among most families that keep their kids home no matter the learning styles.
and yes of course, they do have their bickering moments on occasion.

unschoolermom said...

It is something that I admit I take for granted. I never really think about how fortunate I am that Taliesin and Nathanael are friends. But now that I see more and more kids that do not get along with the siblings, I can see how different it is. Thank you for the post!


Tereza Crump said...

Just found your blog...we too unschool... and I am so glad that my children are best friends. I love being home with them and love to see them bond. My 6 y.o. did exactly what your daughter did today. She sat down and read a book to her 4 y.o. brother and 2 y.o. sister, without nobody telling her to. It saddens me to hear parents saying they can't wait to have their kids go to school or leave home. Don't get me wrong. I do get tired of the noise sometimes, but I rather have them at home then a silent and empty house. :) thanks for sharing. Tereza