Homeschooling an almost five-year-old and a three-year-old has been a mixture of thrills, scary self-doubt, sweetest moments, and frustration galore. There are moments of brilliant discovery and moments of wondering if anyone is home up there. Some mornings, no chug of caffeine can lift the bleariness, and since the baby has already raided the morning trash twice and since I cannot bear to remain in the vicinity of such a dirty kitchen, I herd the gang into the car to spend the day at the children’s museum, learning—kind of. There are moments when I am so excited that there is nothing my children would rather do than learn about the subject at hand. And there are moments when I seriously doubt my ability as a teacher.
This week, we had been informally studying the solar system. We came home from the library with bags stretched full with picture books on the solar system, the sun, and the planets. Every evening, we snuggled together on the couch and explored the pictures, learning about the sun, Venus, and Saturn’s rings. We learned about orbits and atmosphere, we learned that the sun is a star and gives off light, we learned that the moon is just a rock and only reflects light. We learned that the earth’s atmosphere protects us from extreme heat or cold, allowing life to flourish in the perfect system that Allah swt created. All of the insects, trees, animals and people in our solar system live on this tiny planet that Allah swt created as our home, and Allah placed it just so and made it just so for us to worship Him and prosper on earth.
The girls held up construction paper orbs on popsicle sticks representing the sun, the earth, and the moon, and we simulated the earth’s rotation on its axis, the moon’s orbit around the earth, and the earth’s orbit around the sun. They spun and circled around the sunlit yard, laughing when earth and moon bumped into each other. I asked my daughter how many times the earth had orbited the sun since she was born, and after a moment’s thought, she answered proudly, “Four! Almost five times!”
We learned about the extreme heat and cold of Mercury, the desolate environments of Neptune, Uranus, and Jupiter. And we ventured out, unsuccessfully, to spot Venus in the sky. Until that point, I thought I had done a pretty good job as a teacher. Then, towards the end of our week, my daughter asked the cheerful question that had been on her mind:
“So, Mama, which planet does grandma live on?”
I faltered. I think I blushed hotly. I answered feebly, “Um, on er-earth.”
I really couldn’t muster more than that, because that’s when my head dropped off my shoulders and rolled under the table.
Maha Ezzeddine lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is a committed MAS member and worker, part-time writer, mother, and homemaker.