Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Double Ps

      I'm working hard. I'm working hard at resting. I'm trying to figure out "schole". I understand "schole" to be the search of wisdom and truth as a way of living. It sounds so beautiful and calming and inviting. Daily life consisting of ongoing learning by surrounding oneself with beauty. Lovely. The Greeks had it right. Shouldn't school be restful as well as stimulating? Then why is it so much work to rest?

     One thing I've noticed about homeschool parents is that we suffer from pride and paranoia; i.e., the dreaded "double Ps", as I have now named it. Getting all caught up with pouring tons of knowledge into our children, we have trouble taking a break. When we do relax a bit...paranoia sets in. We might get behind. Our children may not test in the correct percentile. They might not get all their Latin vocabulary memorized if we don't make them chant one more time. I fall victim to the "double Ps" more often than I care to admit.
    Restful learning shouldn't feel like work. The "double P" problem happens when I forget that our children have their whole lives ahead of them to learn. I won't even be around to see the end result of the seeds we're planting. My tulips develop from buds to full blossoms in one week, but that is not how a child grows. We plant the seeds, give water, sunshine, and then stand back to give them space to mature into their own God-given personalities.

     I'm blessed to have students that are very receptive to learning. But we do sometimes come up against a wall, and that is when I see that I have stepped over the line of practicing "schole". I want our girls to be curious and full of wonder about the world, not focused on getting the math page finished so we can check it off the list. So, we are making time to set aside our regular studies and explore the beauty of God's creation.

     We are birding. I am bird illiterate and I don't want to be. M is a natural learner and very keyed into nature; therefore, we are diving into the bird world. We have bird feeders, we take time to watch, and we try to identify the birds we see. We're using Learning about Birds with Thornton Burgess from Simply Charlotte Mason and reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children. It is adorable and extremely informative. We put it all together by journaling and include some copywork. We are loving this and I have to admit, M is way more knowledgeable about birds than I am. She is a sponge and I'm more like a rock!

I want to put the "double Ps" behind me. I long for our homeschool to be "homeschole". In order to rest, I need to let go and let our days take on a more natural flow. Salmon may swim upstream, but I sure do get tired doing that. The real deal of "schole" is summed up in these words of CoCo Chanel. "Don't spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door."

Until next time...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I'm Selfish

What would possess me, at this stage of my life, to homeschool? The real deal is this. I don't have a stellar education under my belt, I didn't graduate from college with the highest honors, I don't remember ever even taking calculus, and I'm not crazy about Jane Austin. But I am selfish. Let me explain myself.

We had G all signed up and ready for kindergarten. Then one day, during my morning run, I panicked. I broke out in a sweat. I made a decision. Numerous times I had laughed off my husband's suggestions to homeschool, but now, selfishly, I decided to try it. How hard could kindergarten be? I couldn't bear to not spend all day with her; to not know what she was doing for most of her wakening hours.

So here I am, seven years later still being selfish. The real deal is that thanks to my hard-working and supportive husband, I am able to have an early morning run; prepare a healthy breakfast; relearn or more often learn math concepts; draw the systems of human anatomy; parse and diagram sentences; memorize the 72 phonograms in the English language; coach piano and violin; and study the geography of the world. And we spend lots of time reading about history. Why? Because I love it. Selfish.

We are involved with a local Classical Conversations homeschooling community. By using their history curriculum, we have learned a chronological timeline spanning over 160 events from ancient empires to modern times. What works for us is that we concentrate on a certain time period and we record these events as we read about the people that made them happen in a Book of the Centuries. We keep one altogether, so that I get to do one (selfish), and then each of the girls record in their own timeline book. My goal for this year is to be able to narrate the history of the US by recalling, from memory, 24 significant events and the people who made them happen.

So now you know the real deal about why I homeschool. In the words of Henry David Thoreau,
"Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of too much life. Be not simply good; be good for something."