Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Re-Thinking School...Again

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

As the school bus drives past...

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!