so, this is one of those posts where my heart spilled out everywhere on this keyboard quicker than i could type. it's entirely too long, but i'm thankful to have a record here of my self -doubts and of God rescuing me from them.
i do not come against self-doubt all that often. it's sneaky, that's for sure and it makes you want to hide and pretend that you are actually not experiencing any amount of self-doubt. at all.
in the moments of my life where i've felt such clear direction and perspective from God, when He's given me vision and passion and a deep desire for what our homeschool could and just might look like, it's never been about an actual curriculum or a specific educational philosophy or even general academics.
here's a list, in no particular order, of things that stir me, things that both excite me and give me peace at once, the things that my heart says "ah, yes. now, that's it. that's why i want to homeschool."
~routine. i will say it again, routine. :) but seriously, when it comes to this functional part of our homeschool (the backbone really) the order is way more important to me than the time frame. we do the same things in the same order, almost 4 days a week (i say almost because of a writing class avery is taking and our weekly nature walks). sometimes we get started later, sometimes math takes longer and recess is shorter, but the order is always the same. this provides the structure and discipline for education to actually happen. i typically do not get push back from a request for avery to start working in her planner and ashton to get up to the table for math. and i believe much of this is because they see it as a function of our routine and not just a request from mom. (i hate to paint a picture that i NEVER get push back and that attitudes are always stellar about school over here, but for the sake of this post, i'm focusing on the pattern we are working toward and the pattern that i have seen when i am being super intentional about following our routine)
pretty much all of the other "ah, yes" things flow from the foundation of routine.
~avery is starting to do a morning bible study as a part of her morning routine and i read from the bible each morning while the kids eat breakfast. i love this. "ah, yes."
~after a routine library visit where we sometimes annoy the folks behind us in line whilst checking out our bags and bags of books (100 is the max and we almost always have to put some back), avery settles in on the couch, a comfy quilt envelopes her and a stack of books sits next to her. she is content and cozy. my heart is full.
~i'm thankful for the amazing curriculum that is available to us. i'm confident in how the lessons build and how they make my children feel smart before challenging them with new material. opening our math books and working our way through the lessons at our own pace is truly a beautiful thing to me. i can cater my teaching and our pace to our two main goals; enjoyment and mastery. they enjoy it when they are doing well and if they get too frustrated with new material, we can switch gears, do something they are confident in and pick it back up the next day. i love this because we NEVER have to go ahead and move on even if they don't fully comprehend the new teaching. we can sit with it until they've mastered it and once they've mastered it, they actually enjoy it.
~while the kids munch on sandwiches and carrot sticks, i typically read classic children's literature to them. this is multi-tasking at it's finest in our little home. they are being filled in more ways than one. after their bellies are full of food and their minds are filled with story, i let them take turns narrating for the camera. they almost always want to watch themselves when they are finished.
~outside. OUTSIDE! they know that after lunch and narrations they are banished from the house for several minutes. rain or shine they must get fresh air and sunshine and their imaginations going. sometimes it's little house, sometimes it's transformers (!?), most times there is fighting and often tears. but the conflict/resolution of their daily unstructured play time is important to me. i will usually heat up a cup of coffee and go sit on the floor of the laundry room and fold warm clothes from the dryer. i love laundry for some odd reason. and warm laundry, in a quiet house, with a cup of hot coffee is a daily task i've truly been able to find joy in.
~the thrill of our quiet time just doesn't get old. ian asleep, ashton listening to books and coloring in her room, avery nestled on the couch in quilts ,with books; routine is beautiful at 3 pm. i am moved to brief tears almost every afternoon. the quiet learning of the afternoon hours fills my heart with such thankfulness for this opportunity to all be at home learning together.
~ in the late afternoon after science, reading lesson and quiet reading on the couch, after official school books are put away and ian is up from his nap, i try to have creative projects for them to work on while finding mozart on youtube and letting classical music fill the air. it's soothing and peaceful and the kids seem to resonate with this time of day and this type of work. some days, this feels more important than math.
so, you see, this schooling at home has wiggled it's way deep down in my heart. i'm very fond of our rhythm and the way we live out our days, that is, until i give self-doubt a little bit of room and the whispers become loud and truth becomes muffled.
"what if i'm not doing this right? are we covering enough history? science? are they memorizing enough? is avery really smarter than the average 2nd grader? what if i'm doing it wrong and not preparing them the way i should?
those are loud, paralyzing questions. i've seen how academics can become the main focus, the end game of homeschooling and that is most definitely not me, so should i really be doing this? is focusing on character and finding joy in all things and imaginative play outside and long hours of reading really, really, a strong enough foundation?
have you heard of these little "playaway" deals that you can borrow from the library?
you plug in ear phones and it plays an audio book.
this is an awesome thing for us.
and i've wrestled these past few weeks and God has met me. oh how He has met me. He has reminded me of the power that imaginative play has on young minds. i've re-read studies of unstructured play and how it affects creativity, problem solving, conflict/resolution and leadership skills. He has brought new friends along who are thinking many of the same thoughts and trying to press in to the why behind our little homeschools. he has shown me that the childhood years are fleeting and providing space for them to hold on to the wonder of this world, the wonder of creating, the wonder of beauty and the wonder of a good story is something i should cling to and protect and treasure while i still can. He has shown me that He is indeed carrying this burden of preparing these kids for life right along side me...and His half is way heavier ;). He is a good God. and as i listen and He leads, He promises not to trick me into going down the wrong path. He is so good. So faithful.
and He says....
"mandy, that peace and excitement that you feel when you are at home reading and playing and learning new math skills together, with no where to be and quiet time just around the corner? that is from me. you have learned to hear my still, small voice....now, trust it."