by Katie Arbataitis, TCA Co-Teacher

Intangibles. By definition they are incapable of perception by touch, not definite/clear to the mind and understood solely through a connection with something else. Therein lies the problem for me. I like black and white, evidence, and data. But there it is, right in the definition, this “thing” that I cannot hold and is not quantifiable. Yet I know it there.

Intangible is a one-word summary of why the collaborative model has changed our life.

Teaching your children both informally and formally is all consuming. It is how you spend your days as a parent, especially a homeschool parent. Teaching moments abound from the moment little eyes open until the last eyelid flutter at the end of the day. Sometimes God even provides us extra opportunities to teach in the middle of the night when pajama clad bodies show up by our beds at 2 AM. And so we do. Over, and over again. Sometimes we repeat lessons what feels like countless times. This repetition can be simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting.

But then, every now and again, time decelerates. Life feels like living a slow-motion moment. You perceive a shift and you know an imprint was left in your and your child’s brain and heart. Sometimes your child recognizes this moment too and you share a deep and profound connection that would not have been possible if you were not their teacher in that moment.

And how did your child end up in your presence in that moment? Because you chose to take the opportunity to participate in a collaborative model of education for your family.

Much to my dismay, there is no tally sheet to track the “intangibles” and prove to you that they matter. However, I believe they do.

Homeschool days are filled with countless touches of reassurance during difficult math problems, shoulder to shoulder moments fingerspelling new words, smiles of encouragement while practicing presentations, epiphanies during science as a chemical change unfolds, and tender moments of gratitude during history, reading about those who blazed the trail before us.

These things - the touches, smiles and shared struggles - should not be underestimated or viewed as secondary to the academic content which I get to explore with my child. These “intangibles” are altering my children’s trajectory and my own. They support the development of character traits in us that will be the basis for how we live the rest of our lives. They connect us together in a deep and meaningful way.

I have had the privilege of watching diligence and perseverance unfold in my sweet babies over a Logic of English textbook, steadfastness grow while practicing math facts, and compassion abound as siblings work together to grasp a concept. These intangibles are just the beginning of the list of the gifts we’ve experienced in the collaborative model.

I am still working on the equation so I can prove to you exactly how this matters. Until then, the significance of the “intangibles” will have to stay in that gray area that seems to be plentiful in the human experience.