I slide the scissors along the seam and open up a new box. The bits of fuzz surrounding the one thousand little pieces float down as I cut open the plastic bag and we sweep them in the trash before beginning the sorting and flipping process.
“Flip them all picture side up. Then look for the edge pieces, nurse ” I say. “They are the ones with the straight line. The others are so much easier to do if you have a frame to work in.” Little hands hover over the table searching and lifting, help turning and shuffling.
It doesn’t matter what image the puzzle will be. We’ve chosen silly cartoon puzzles, classic painting puzzles, puzzles about states and flags, and many others. What matters is the coming together for a single purpose; the joint focus we share as we try to piece together the same picture; the patience and the joy in working together. We love to celebrate together the discovery of a piece that has long eluded us, to search for pieces with a common color, or theme, or subject. Sometimes we go to separate corners of the puzzle and each decide to work individually, looking up
occasionally and calling out a success or groaning about a piece that seems to be missing. We find a piece stuck to our clothes or foot and laugh about how that was the one we couldn’t find.
As we open our eyes and our minds, we notice the minute changes in shade and hue in each piece of ocean, or gently flowing fabric tablecloth, or leaves of trees. We learn to see differently as the image materializes. Working together brings thankfulness, sibling camaraderie, and appreciation for what each member of the family has to offer.
Sometimes we all head to the puzzle table, other times someone will invite one sibling or another to work in a pair. Every once in a while I’ll find one of my children alone, patiently working, building on to the family puzzle peacefully and telling me of their achievements with pride when they’ve made progress. I love how it brings us together in different ways and combinations.
Now the new year is upon us. And for me, it carries the same excitement and promise as a new family puzzle.
A new year brings an unfinished image- a promise of cooperative dreams and goals- and we look forward to finding the pieces, to working and learning together. As a homeschool family, our life is a celebration of togetherness, but also of individuality and growing independence. While it may be my job to guide them in building the framework of their days and weeks, my children are the ones who revel in each little success. We are artists and architects, seekers and finders, and our vision changes as we look for the beauty in each day of learning. We enjoy working together, but also pursuing our own interests, coming together at the end of the day to share exciting discoveries, frustrations we have conquered, or perhaps ones that have conquered us.
As the months slip by, the picture becomes clearer. Each year has its own flavor, wouldn’t you agree? Something to define it and give it an energy all its own. In this blogging community we often choose a word, or a phrase, that we hope will give a framework for our year.
Have you ever chosen a word for your homeschool?
I think this year I will, though I haven’t before. I will pray for the Master Artist to give me His vision, the image He wants to share with our family. I will pray that He gives all of us new eyes of grace as we live this life of learning. Then we will work with Him to flip the pieces, build the frame, study the colors, and match the edges to build that image together.
Christine Hiester is a crazy eclectic homeschooling mom to four beautiful individuals, ages 4 to 11, three boys and a girl. She and her family live in Ohio where they enjoy ever-bigger puzzles with teeny-weeny pieces, as well as other pursuits. She is a classical musician by trade and a follower of Jesus by daily choice. She blogs somewhat regularly at Fruit in Season.
We are excited Christine will be joining our writing team monthly to encourage homeschool moms in the area of Health & Wellness !