I’ve spent the two weeks of Christmas break just enjoying the days and the people. I’ve organized a few cupboards, filled a garbage bag with donations, printed out my calendar for the new year, worked on catching up our photo album, and crocheted my first granny square(ish) of 2014. It has all been so relaxing. So joy-of-the-season, make-a-fresh-start, relaxing.
And today we start back to school.
And mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again!" - It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas
These words don't apply to homeschoolers. Just sayin'.
I think the stages of a homeschool year are not much different from any other monumental endeavor:
- Begin with excitement and gusto (August - October)
- Temper your goals and flex a little - “school-lite” (November - December)
- Full on burn-out (January-February)
- Nature study! and maybe we’re “unschoolers” after all (March - April)
- Finish already (May - June)
- Let’s plan the Best Year Ever (July)
We’ve already lightened our load and made some tweaks in our year, and now I need a push. The atmosphere of our home these past 2 weeks has been relaxed and peaceful - the card games, the monopoly and checkers, the art pens and puzzles.
Too many movies, perhaps, but we’ve balanced that with some reading, because they cancel each other out. Like green smoothies and chocolate.
I want to carry that peace into our homeschool days. I want there to be a balance of working hard and playing hard, of easy rhythms and diligence. That’s my prayer - that in all our working, reading, studying, reciting - we would find joy.
In my search for the perfect schedule, I debate things with myself:
Should the kids be up at 6 to start chores and read the Bible and eat their oatmeal? Or should I let them linger in bed till closer to 7….thirty? Let them come downstairs and begin gently, at the table, with peanut-butter toast and the news.
Should they be dressed or pajama-ed?
Should we set timers and run schedules; or work till a certain time of day and then put the books away, whether the boxes are all checked or not?
Should we analyze the literature to its death, for our supposed good, or just enjoy it?
The debate is always between the Regiment and the Retreat.
What I really want is for structure and discipline to marry desire and joy. And let’s all live happily ever after. Let’s not ever say “When your school is done…” because that implies that we stop learning at some point, or that the best learning happens within the confines of a school day.
It’s time for a homeschool shot-in-the-arm.
This time of year, when I’m in burn-out mode and wishing Christmas break lasted forever, is the time when I need to pull out some wisdom from those who’ve gone before. I forget, when my head is down in the teacher’s guide and my red pen is in hand; I forget that I get this way every year. I forget that the way out is through encouragement, and that sometimes, most times, I have to find it for myself.
So I pull these books off the shelf:
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
The Core by Leigh Bortins
These authors don’t think exactly the same in regards to home education, and some of them may be polar opposites. I pick and choose, change according to season, and always try to allow the Lord to direct our steps, and not popular opinion.
These books and a few homeschool blogs are usually the shot in the arm I need in January, and again, in July, when I’m in Deep Planning Mode.
Maybe it’s just because of the age of my children now, but I don’t obsess over homeschool like I used to. I want my children to do all things for the glory of Christ, but sometimes…we just have to get through the math lesson and move on, praise the Lord.
“Doing all things through Christ” doesn’t mean that we have to DO ALL THINGS. Whether our daily life brings struggle or joy, ease or heavy-burdens, we only make it through Christ's perfection. Not our curriculum or schedule or perfectly behaved children.
So we are back to school.
And we are tweaking things.
And we are going to get through January and February with easy rhythms and diligence.
And in March we’ll have spring break, hallelujah.