I feel the need to do this on a regular basis. I find that our household has regular cycles. I will be organized and on top of things, the kids are engaged in lessons. Then things begin to slide. The cleanliness of our home slides downward, I am less organized, fewer school lessons are happening. Since we school year-round, I kind of expect this. Usually through the summer, school lessons become much more relaxed and less planned. There is less table-time and more outdoor exploration time. I think this is fairly natural and good. However, as my children's peers are returning to school and the world (including most homeschoolers) gets into "back-to-school" mode, I can't help but feel like I need to kick our homeschooling into a higher gear. Often, I question what this should look like for our family and take a short season of prayerful study and consideration. Thankfully, we have a couple of weeks here with a relaxed schedule that I can afford to do this.
When I first decided to homeschool over 13 years ago when my oldest was ready to start kindergarten, I was led to a book called, Wisdom's Way of Learning
by Marilyn Howshall. It was so odd how this book came into my hands and I firmly believe that it was a gift of God to point me in the right direction as I began this homeschooling journey. This book prevented me from having the school-at-home mentality. Being, myself, a product of the public school system, that was all I really knew about education. This book, however, was written by a mom who was much further on her homeschooling journey and had really questioned education and sought God for answers. From this I learned that education should not be all about the curriculum and scope and sequence charts. It is about our children's hearts, pointing them toward God and helping them to find God's purpose for their lives. Homeschooling then is more about training our child's character, teaching them how to learn, and seeking God's voice. This is very challenging, but does lift the burden of making sure we cover everything
. If we have taught our children how
to learn anything, when they need it, they will learn it quickly.
I lost this book over the years and after a couple of moves. I may have lent it out, but I just don't remember. This year I discovered that I could buy it in a revised e-book form from Marilyn's website
. So, re-reading this book now, as my oldest begins her senior year, I feel like I am coming around full-circle. Over the years I have struggled with implementing this. Part of me finds it easier to just use a scope and sequence like a checklist and go through the motions of school using canned curriculum while part of me rebels against it. REALLY rebels against it. I can't tell you how many curriculums we have begun to use, but *I* just couldn't get through them. It feels so wrong to me. I think it is because God has shown me real life learning and I can't go back. But because of this I have often felt like a failure as a homeschooling mom. I have my feet planted in both camps and therefore I do not feel successful with either.
I am still mulling this around in my mind. I feel like God is really trying to open my eyes to a big truth here. As this becomes more concrete in my own head, I will be able to share it better. But suffice to say, I will be stepping back away from most curriculum and textbooks and using real-life, blank notebooks, and my library card this year. And prayer. I will be using LOTS of prayer.
As the rest of the world around me readies to send their children back to school, I can't help but feel so thankful that I don't have to. I would be lying if I didn't admit that a small part of me craves to gain the hours of quiet time in my day, but ultimately they are not worth the price. I know in my heart that homeschooling is what is right for our family right now. It is what God has led us to and it works for us. I know that for others, God has led them to other avenues for schooling. But, I do have to say that I am ever so grateful that our place is here, at home.
So, as I hear the school bus rumble by, I will be thankful that my kids are still in their pajamas and preparing for their day calmly without rushing and I didn't have to get up early to pack lunches. I will enjoy spending the days with my children doing devotions around the breakfast table and reading lessons cuddled on the couch. Of course, it is not all such sweetness. It is hard work and there are days where no one seems to want to do what they should be, but I will take those times in trade for the good ones. The days when I get to see my children's eyes light up with understanding, when they work together as a team, when things just work. I am feeling so blessed for this opportunity to teach my children!
Well, I am in housework catchup mode. There are many areas of our home that I have been too busy to keep up on properly. My pantry, which I mentioned the other day is one of them. I suppose that I should take an after picture. It is amazingly better. Now, I am tackling laundry. "Laundry" should be a four letter word. It certainly is dirty and not very pleasant. Add my inconstancy with laundry and a household of eight people and you get a LAUNDRY MONSTER! So yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day washing, drying, folding, hanging, sorting clothes. My laundry room was piled full with clean laundry which I have sorted through. Now, my bedroom has stacks of out of season clothes, clothes that I am saving, but don't currently fit a child, but will, and boxes of clothes to donate. Of course this was all done amidst schoolwork, reading, meal prep, cleaning, as well as dealing with a certain 4 year old that God must have put into my life to make me realize that I am totally inept as a parent. Let's just say that when she is in a mood, I could tell her to go eat candy and she would feel the need to refuse just because I said it. [sigh] It is exhausting. Needless to say, this one child took a large chunk of my day yesterday. I am praying for wisdom and guidance from God, because nothing I have learned from my 17+ years of parenting is helping. God clearly has to intervene and I am depending on Him. Of course, that's right where He wants me now isn't it?
After cold and rainy weather for what felt like FOREVER, it finally feels like summer. We've had HOT, humid weather and lots of sunshine. It does look like a storm is rolling in today, though. I am kind of bummed about that because my garden needs a bit of tilling so I can get it planted. This was not a good year to try and create a new big garden. It has been too wet to work the ground. Hubby finally got our garden plowed and disked, but it needs some tilling before planting. It should have happened last weekend, but mowing took precedence. I am hoping we don't get so much rain today that we can't till and plant this weekend.
Now that I have more days at home without outside commitments, I have been taking this opportunity to do some cleaning and organization that was long overdue. Our schoolroom/office was a ridiculous mess. You couldn't even walk through the place because it tend to be a dumping place for everything. I started sorting though stuff, but got discouraged. That paired with the fact that we were have people over last weekend, I just boxed everything up and hauled it to the basement. I promised myself that I would go through one box per day. I might not be keeping up with that so far this week...BUT the schoolroom looks great!
Yesterday, I started cleaning out my pantry. It is packed full and I can never find anything. I had shelves full of bags of bulk foods, etc. I would look for something, not see it, and end up buying it. After returning from Sam's Club yesterday, I realized that something HAD to be done. I didn't have room to put anything away. So I broke down and purchased some containers
to store all of our bulk things like nuts, grains and dried fruit. I was so glad to get rid of all of those little bags! It is still in process and my kitchen counter island is still covered, but I am hoping to have it put together by the end of the day. Fact is, we go though a lot of food. We have changed out diet to mostly unprocessed, whole, real
food. This can allow for way less packaging and a tidier pantry. I just had to break down and spring for some containers. I fell in love with one type, but they were $10-15 each
. I settled on a more economical option and they seem to be working out great.
My next big project will be our clothing/laundry situation. I have come to the conclusion (with help from my hubby) that I am a clothes hoarder. I save every outgrown thing for the next child coming up. I buy any good deal I find even if I have enough clothes for that particular child. (When I mean good deal, I am talking a quarter.) However, I am discovering that much of what I have saved looked pretty sad. It is worn, faded and outdated. This should be no surprise. I have about 7 years between several of my same sex siblings. If you figure that most of the clothes were purchased used, they are over a decade old and have seen the wear of at least two children. A couple of boxed were attacked by mice as well, so they were trash. So, I am sorting through and getting rid of a bunch of stuff. I will only save the best of the best clothing and pass on the rest to someone else. I probably have a couple of weeks worth of work to go through my stash.
That's my life right now. It is busy with the mundane but necessary.
As the traditional school year comes to a close and our year-round homeschool does not, I begin to question myself and reevaluate whether we are on the right course. Even all of my homeschool friends are counting the days until they are done for the year. As much as I would like to take a vacation from my teaching responsibilities, I feel like learning is a lifelong thing and we should never actually take a break from it. I find it hard to believe that my homeschooling friends truly take a break from learning either I think what they are really doing is taking a break from the schoolWORK. You know, the textbooks and curriculum and grading papers and making assignments. I can't blame anyone for that!
I really struggle with traditional schoolwork aspect of education. Part of me would love to see my children happily sitting at their little desks working away at above grade level curriculum each day. But the reality is that that is not always very fun. It can be so boring for the kids and therefore, they are not learning very much. It is also a lot of work planning and grading all those lessons not mention the pain in making the children get the work done when they would rather be doing other things. I remember how boring I thought much of my schoolwork was. What I don't remember is much of what I “learned” in that process. I feel like I am learning so much more with my kids now.
Part of me is very rebellious toward traditional education methods. I feel like so much of it is busy-work that doesn't engage real learning. I personally love to learn new things. Something will spark my interest and I learn about it. You would not believe all of the things that I dabble in. I am reading non-fiction books all of the time just to learn about stuff. Do I do this because it was assigned to me? Of course not! I do it because I want to. I do it because there is a reason to learn it because it will be a help in my life. As I think about it, this is the gift of education that I want to pass along to my kids. I want them to passionately want to know about and do things and have the skills to be able to learn them.
I am coming to realize that I could be classified as and “unschooler.” According to Wikipedia:
“Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child directed play, game play,household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities led by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child.”
Yep, that sounds a lot like me. I definitely am not a radical unschooler because things are not completely child led. When I see a need for my children to learn something in particular, I force my own agenda. The older children do use a math curriculum and we use various curriculums for different subjects during different seasons. I require reading, copywork, dictation, and some memorization. When the kids have an interest or questions about something we look up an answer. Google can be our best friend. If more interest is sparked, we utilize our local library to research more. Sometimes we get all school-ish with a subject doing more paperwork, but more often we just talk about it so I know that they understand it.
One thing I find is a big requirement for this type of education is a lot of one-on-one quiet time with God. Before each of my children were born, He knew their complete life-path. He knows exactly what they need to be equipped for the work He has for them. So, that's what I am doing praying and thinking and listening.
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