Thursday, November 17, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--November 2, 2016

People are curious when they find out that we homeschool our children. Usually they wonder what is required of us to teach at home. The requirements are different in each state, but here in Maryland, we are required to regularly teach the same subjects that are taught in public schools and to have portfolios of each child’s work reviewed each year. 

We do that, but some days, it’s a real struggle to fit in everything between frequent diaper changes and nap times. The bad days find us still at math or literature in the evening hours. Because we don’t have a set-in-stone schedule, the only bell we have to pay attention to is the dinner bell.

Our schedule isn’t the only thing that’s different from regular school. Instead of sitting at desks, our children sit at the dining room table. But sometimes the dining room is too loud and the wooden chairs too hard, so you might find my students doing their work on their beds or sitting next to their teacher on the living room couch.

And just sometimes, my students escape altogether and head to the great outdoors. I call it recess. After about half an hour of good exercise and play time, I call them in.

But not last week. I couldn’t help myself. You see, the wind was blowing, and the autumn leaves were raining down on the children. The football lay forgotten, and the children ran to and fro, trying to catch the leaves before they fell to the ground.

From the vantage point of my rocking chair, I could hear their laughter and shouts, and I could see the pure joy on their faces. Such a simple game, the catching of leaves. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen.

I wish I could honestly say I would’ve joined them if the baby hadn’t been asleep on my lap, but I know I wouldn’t. There’s too much grown-up in me, worrying about laundry and what’s for dinner and such. Sadly, I just don’t think I remember how to forget the time and be so joyfully carefree.

But I can sit in my chair, watch and appreciate, and put off school for a little while longer. In a worrisome world of drugs, violence, and elections, I can allow my students to chase leaves; I can give them a few extra moments of childhood.


Childhood means nothing if not milk and cookies. My friend shared the following recipe with me just today, so I’ve not tried it out yet, but, trust me, she doesn’t make bad food! She also said they are best right out of the oven. If you don’t want to decorate them as pumpkins, I’m sure they’re just as delicious as plain circles.
Pumpkin Cookies

2 cups flour
1 cup quick or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup solid pack pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips
Assorted icing, candies, raisins, or nuts for decorating

Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Cream butter; gradually add sugars, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Alternate additions of dry ingredients and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. 

For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto lightly greased cookie sheet; spread into pumpkin shape. Add a bit more dough to form stem. Bake 20-25 minutes, until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets; cool on racks. Decorate, using icing or peanut butter to affix candies, raisins, or nuts. 


  1. I love this post...joyful, carefree, and catching leaves. We are homeschoolers in MD, too! 😊 Enjoy the rest of the fall weather, and happy Thanksgiving!

    1. You're in MD, too?! I had no idea :) Very cool. Thank you-- and may you have a great Thanksgiving time, too.

  2. We homeschool in Michigan. The great thing about homeschooling is that we can do exactly what you did-take time out to just enjoy life. I feel so lucky (even when life gets crazy) to be able to homeschool.

  3. We homeschool in Michigan. The great thing about homeschooling is that we can do exactly what you did-take time out to just enjoy life. I feel so lucky (even when life gets crazy) to be able to homeschool.

    1. I started out wanting to homeschool because of standardized test stress for little ones (back before I had little ones). . . and each day I see more and more reasons to love it!