Roots and Wings


There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.
~ Hodding Carter

If the school year was a baseball game, we’d be rounding the corner to third base. We’ve left behind, for now anyway, those incredible Old Testament characters—the good, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve learned about how people throughout the ages have built structures so as to make homes for their families and we’ve built a few of our own. The idea of house and home has even made its way into our math blocks, as we place the numbers in their little houses while working out addition and multiplication with regrouping and subtraction with borrowing. We’ve explored Native American culture and their early homes as well. While making our first formal exploration of history we’ve been led to question our own family history, and I was amazed at how our findings delighted Nicholas.

Multiplication Houses

We put out a call on Facebook, and Grandma and Grandpa shared some family history when they came to visit. We looked at some of Mama’s pictures from her childhood and pulled down all the baby scrapbooks. The twins still regularly ask for me to get down a baby scrapbook, even though all their pictures are on Facebook instead of printed out.

Me at my First Holy Communion with my godparents

Then we went to and had a great time on the page where you can plug in a last name and it tells you all sorts of information—country of origin, when the family first came to America, if they fought in the civil war, what jobs they held. Nicholas was particularly amused by the fact that Mama’s people fought on the Confederate side and Daddy’s fought for the Union.

Today we learned a great song by Tom Chapin, Family Tree. Nick, Daniel, Matthew and I all learned sign language to the chorus:

We’re a family, and we’re a tree,
Our roots go deep down in history.
From my great-great-grandfather (mother), reaching up to me
We’re a green and growing family.

I’m hoping to get a video of the chorus and motions up later. Tom Chapin has some wonderful songs for children.

We have some other projects I hope to wrap up by the end of next week. We’re making a family tree, of course, and maybe—just maybe—we’ll be making our own family “Weasley Clock” as well. We’ll be taking a brief tour of the seven continents and adding our family to a map. I’m also hoping to create some sort of sign for the outside entrance that features our family name.

It’s interesting—in researching third grade, there is a lot of emphasis put on the feeling of loss an Eight has as they leave the early childhood years behind them and set their feet more firmly on the path of formal education. And so we give them these Old Testament stories about expulsion from Paradise, loss of innocence, and sin and redemption. And I get that, I really do. But what I have seen in my own child’s heart has been different. Maybe I am doing it wrong, but I see him taking from this year the idea that from small beginnings, amazing things happen.

God spoke in the darkness, and an infinite universe came in to being.

From dust came Adam, and from Adam came every soul who ever walked this earth.

And across time and place, our family has grown to create just this very moment in time where Nicholas exists.

I don’t think he’s feeling loss; I think he’s feeling amazing grace and significance. I think he is grasping that big moments come from small beginnings. I think he is learning, as the book of Zechariah says, not to despise small beginnings.

And as I walk this third grade journey for the third time, I am amazed to find myself once again face to face with one of the most humbling parts of homeschooling:

My children may be teaching me far more than I can ever teach them.


  1. //

    Isn’t that the truth? We always end our lessons with a handshake and the phrase “Thank you for the lesson.” The boys say it and I say it too, bc as you say, we probably learn more than they do. And I know you are not just speaking about academics, and neither am I. Some days are hard – really hard – but when all is said and done, I wouldn’t trade any of it.

    Have a wonderful weekend Annette.

    1. //

      “Thank you for the lesson”– I really, really love that! Thanks for sharing, Sheila.

  2. //

    Congratulation, your have doing a great work , i like so much your page web, and i am learning a lot of with your family too.(sorry for my bad english, I´m from spain and i do not talk well in english.thank you so much.

  3. //

    Hi Annette, Can you recommend any reading on that topic of an eight-year-old feeling the loss of childhood? My son is nine and has been dealing with this a lot. I’d like to read more about it to know how to comfort him more.

    1. //

      You know, at first I read this as you asking for read aloud book suggestions, and I was thinking how Charlotte’s Web and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe are perfect for this age. And then I realized that it wasn’t what you were asking at all! Although that would make a good blog post, LOL!

      Most of what I have seen has been on the various curriculum sites’ pages when they explain the third grade curriculum. I think Melisa over at Waldorf Essentials has had quite a bit to say about the nine-year-old change as well.

      Carrie has a great post here:

      This looks kind of amazing, but I don’t own it:

      1. //

        Thanks, Annette! The article on Carrie’s website is just the sort of thing that I was looking for. And thanks for correctly interpreting my question. I guess I could have been a bit more specific.: )

Comments are closed.