I had the pleasure of educating my children at home for sixteen years until they both graduated from homeschool high school. They graduated from university and now have homes of their own but I remember with fondness homeschooling at this time of year.
Autumn was one of our favorite times and we would decorate the house with hand-made pumpkins, ghosts, and leaves. Outside we would hang decorations in small trees, and play in fallen leaves. Carving a pumpkin jack-o-lantern was always a special event that took place on the front porch in the cool October weather, usually accompanied by a fall supper.
In our classroom, I would cut out a construction paper brown tree trunk about four feet tall and tape it to the wall, and the kids would decorate cut-out autumn leaves — maple, oak, elm — to put on the tree. Each day as I read out loud from a favorite book, they would color and decorate a few more leaves and tape them to the autumn tree.
I probably miss reading out loud with my young children more than anything else. We devoured books of all kinds, and poetry. One of our favorite poets was Robert Frost and every season we would read his words describing spring, winter, fall, or summer.
Their favorite fall poem from Robert Frost was “The Last Word of a Bluebird (As told to a child)” … daughter Katy memorized it and still recites it when prompted:
As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, “Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)
That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.
He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And wear her red hood,
And look for skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax–
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing.”
In our Calvert 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum, we found a Halloween poem that became a tradition right through 12th grade. “Little Orphant Annie” was written in 1885 by James Whitcomb Riley and later inspired the Little Orphan Annie comic. Even now it’s fun to read it out loud, complete with the rising and lowering voice and spooky overtones that I used for 16 years — kind of like riding a bicycle … one never forgets. While reading, we would all join in together at the end of each verse with, “An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you ef you don’t watch out!”
This year pumpkins and mums are on the front porch … gourds are in baskets … decorations are throughout the house … but there’s no fall tree on the wall or reading out loud as in the past, or decorations on an outside tree placed there by little hands.
But I pulled out the poems today and remembered … and read “Little Orphant Annie” out loud just as I did for so many years. I could almost hear two young voices join in the last verse, “An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you ef you don’t watch out!” Ah, memories.
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
October 31, 2016
Lynn Mitchell educated her children at home for 16 years and was part of leadership in North Carolina’s Iredell County Home Educators (ICHE) and Virginia’s Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes (PEACH). Her son graduated from Harrisonburg’s James Madison University (JMU) in 2007 with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Creative Writing. Her daughter graduated from Staunton’s Mary Baldwin University in 2012 with a BS in Sustainable Business and Marketing. Lynn and her husband live in Augusta County in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Other titles in the “Back in the homeschool classroom” series by Lynn R. Mitchell:
– Reading out loud to our children (July 2015)
– Did Terry McAuliffe understand the ‘Tebow Bill’ he vetoed? (April 2015)
– The Virginian-Pilot is wrong about homeschool sports ‘entitlement’ (February 2015)
– ’50 reasons homeschooled kids love being homeschooled’ (November 2014)
– Grown son’s first home (April 2014)
– Support group vs Co-op (February 2014)
– Where it all began … blazing new trails (January 2013)
– Grown son’s first home (July 2013)
– Staying in touch with homeschool friends (July 2013)
– New Year’s Eve (December 2012)
– More sleep = homeschoolers happier, healthier than public school students? (April 2013)
– Using Shenandoah National Park as your classroom (March 2013)
– Rainy days (May 2013)
– A chance encounter (June 2013)
– Autumn (October 2012)
– The rain rain rain came down down down (April 2012)
– Why we teach our own (April 2012)
– Casey (April 2012)
– The wedding … letting go (September 2012)
– The pain of grief (August 2012)
– When faced with a challenge … no whining (April 2012)
– The simple wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (August 2012)
– First day of school (September 2012)
– The rise of homeschooling (February 2012)
– Hot summer days (July 2011)
– Constitutional lessons and the Judicial branch of government (March 2012)
– Mary Baldwin commencement 2012 … SWAC Daughter graduates with honors (May 2012)