Winter’s finally settling onto the roofs of our little town. The evenings’ skies are fogged by the smoke rising from fires in the homes and the mornings’ streets are crisp with the thinnest whisper of ice. Long mornings outside have been swapped for jigsaws and iPad learning, crafts and Lego. Lunches are warmer affairs, soups and stews and cabbages. Big, big cabbages.
This beauty of a cabbage – cooked into kapuska, and spicy rice, creamed with ginger & garlic and rolled into ‘dolma’ – seemed to represent our current life pretty well. The layers I’d expected to peel away whole to be stuffed and rolled, came away in strips in T and my hands. Yet far from being a disaster, it was the perfect way for them to unreel, resulting in smaller, delicate dolma even the smallest little hands could wrap around. And that’s exactly where our homeschooling’s at. The structure I’d presumed would manifest into K’s daily learning hasn’t materialised, instead we have a fluid roll going on that follows what he wants, when he wants it and it seemingly, inshAllah, works.
He’s always been a strong willed little man and as he grows this strength has developed into a grasp of logic that is pure and exact. What makes sense does, what doesn’t doesn’t. Nowhere is this more apparent than with Lego. Though he competently follows instructions independently and self-led, he even more competently alters the same instructions to create something more unique, something that resembles the logic in his head. Why on earth would you use a single two piece when two separate pieces would be more symmetrical? In one day he will use all the Lego on the table and be matter-of-fact about taking apart the mornings work for the single piece the afternoons creation requires of him. The next day, tears will fall before breakfast as he looks at the pieces and exclaims it just doesn’t make sense! when what he sees in his head doesn’t correlate. Those are the days he’ll spend hours telling me stories of knights and flying lions, or drawing the same house in daylight and darkness, or structuring Jenga blocks in every increasing towers only to be chagrined when T sees it as too tempting a tumble to resist.
These are also the days he’ll work his way through eighteen levels of Unblock Me, or explain to T how exactly seasons work and why. And these are the days when, after we’ve finished our woodlice tracking and stone collecting, I get to sit and watch him “learn” in the way I envisioned his learning would take place. We sit and write, practise number formation, “study” a subject. The classroom comes to our dining table. But though those “lessons” are valuable for me to track his progress, they’re not really the times when he learns. He’s learning when he draws a picture for his Baba, writing the B for Baba with three loops instead of two. He’s learning when he rearranges numbers across the table tracing his fingers across the curves of the shapes, and when we’re baking and their questions flow out ten to the dozen – “Why can we use vinegar instead of eggs?” “Why do temperatures differ for cookies and cake?” “Why isn’t a brownie just called “gooey crunchy cake?”. He’s learning, and though M might not yet meet the UK KeyStage expectations, he’s already learnt that education can be enjoyable and often self-led without fearing he’s going to be told he’s wrong. And the best part? As M learns to learn, T learns right alongside.
Ginger Muffins to Gain Weight For
No matter what mood the days take, the one guarantee is that at some point the boys will declare it time for tea and cake. After choosing their tea – M’s preference Rooibos, T’s a Chamomile that resolutely fails to calm as it promises to! – we curl up to read, munching happily on baked goods of the day. Yes, the day..this homeschooling’s a dangerous diet to be on!
The inspiration for this muffin came from a Marion Cunningham recipe, and was adapted to make it dairy-free, and later vegan. It’s wonderful. So wonderful we’ve repeatedly failed to make them last to snap a picture. Tomorrow I’ll try again – promise.
1 ice cubed size piece unpeeled fresh ginger,finely grated 3/4 cup plus 3 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
8 tbs. olive oil
2 eggs or 3 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 cup orange juice
Warm the ginger with 1/4 cup of sugar until the sugar has melted. While the sugar’s melting, mix the lemon juice with the 3 Tbs. sugar. Pour the zest into the ginger mix.
Whisk the eggs/vinegar, orange juice & olive oil. Fold in dry ingredients, and finally mix through the now cooled ginger mix.
Bake at 175 for around 20 minutes until the tops are just golden.
Try and make them last long enough to take a photo. Fail miserably and try again tomorrow.