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15 Pair of Pears and 3 Extra Pair of Hands

Posted Oct 13 2009 10:05pm

It was my turn to be one of the parent assistants in Ava’s homeschooling class this week. Each week there are two parent assistants who work in the classroom on a rotating basis along side the teacher and teacher assistant. That’s four adults for 16 children. Overkill? That’s what I thought until I was actually working in the classroom!

This homeschooling program that we’re a part of is founded on the principles of Waldorf education. For pre-schoolers and kindergartners learning in a Waldorf style environment, it’s all about PLAY. There is no curriculum for 5 and 6 year olds, Waldorf philosophy basically says the only thing kids this age need to worry about is playing! I have been working on reading and writing with Ava, but only because she’s eager and soaks it up like a sponge. If she resisted, I wouldn’t push the issue knowing that at this age it’s perfectly fine to let them learn about themselves and the world through play.

Parents in the classroom work on household-like tasks to provide an example of productive work for children to observe and participate if they like.

This week one family brought in pears from the pear tree in their yard and today we worked on cutting up pears for pear sauce.

Thirty Pears

There are child safe knives (that sounds like an oxymoron!) in the classroom and the children have mini cutting boards to help prep fruit if they are interested.

And oh boy were they interested. Does anyone have a battleship they need sinking?

Anybody Got a Battleship?

I cored, sliced up and passed out pears wedges to eager 5 and 6 year old as they chopped and diced and chopped and diced some more. I think I probably cored and sliced 30 pears for the handful of children interested in helping with this task today.

Ton O' Pears

The pears were cooked on high in the crock pot during class, but the pear sauce wasn’t ready in time to be enjoyed by the end of the 3 hour class. It doesn’t even matter though, it’s more about the experience at this age than the end product. I think the teacher finishes making it at home and brings it back next week to share. It’s almost magical to see how eager these kids are to help, learning is built right in. For us, this is what homeschooling is all about.

After a day away from home, I had nothing planned for dinner and was flying by the seat of my pants. This morning I cooked garbanzo beans that I’d soaked over night and had planned to make hummus with, but instead decided on a whim to turn them into dinner.

I started with a new bottle of olive oil from Newman’s Own Organics. I’d never seen Newman’s Own Organic EVOO before. After a unit price comparison of my usual Spectrum brand vs. Newman’s Own Organic, Nell Newman undercut Spectrum by a few organic pennies. Get in the cart Nell, you’re coming home with me!

Newman's Own Olive Oil

Into the pan with olive oil went chopped garlic, diced peppers and jarred jalapenos for sauteing. Next up, 2 – 3 cups (whatever 8 oz of dried garbanzo beans worked out to be) garbanzos with a cup of water, a couple tablespoons of cumin, a tsp or so of chili powder and a tsp or so of kosher salt.

Garbanzo Tacos

At the end I chopped up and added some fresh cilantro and called it chick pea tacos. Once upon a time I had no idea I could make my own taco seasoning. If you look at the ingredients on a packet of taco seasoning the main ingredients are most likely cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt. I have all these spices in my cupboard – minus the monosodium glutamate and other fun additives found in these pre-mixed seasoning packets. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself!

Served in a whole wheat tortilla with a little hand shredded colby jack cheese and salsa.

Tacos

Swaddled like a colicky baby.

All Wrapped Up

In the classroom I feel like this perfectly centered, loving, peaceful mother. What the hell happens at home when I’m in the middle of dinner, kids are crying and clawing at me, breaking up fights over who gets
“the nice spoon”, who sits in what chair, I’m far from centered or peaceful. I’m in NO MOOD to let anyone even look in my general direction let alone help me prepare food. I need three more women here to help me wrangle kids, meals, laundry, dishes. Suddenly I’m beginning to understand that saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

Anyone? Nell? Want to fold that basket of laundry while I shovel these kids into bed?

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