Friday, August 21, 2009

Preparing for a new learning season

"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
--Matthew 6:33

I like the image of Cousin Summer leaving with his knapsack, and Uncle Fall coming in with his books. But the weather is now muggy in addition to being hot, and we cannot expect it to feel like fall in the middle of August.

The school year has begun, nonetheless.

Declaring ourselves "unschoolers" does not free us from the dictates of the school calendar. Daddy is bound to it as a schoolteacher, and therefore we are influenced by it, too.

At church today we had our Sunday School "kickoff" -- an exciting, rather chaotic start to what I hope simply continues to create a love in my children's hearts for the Lord, His Word, His people, and our place of worship.

Tomorrow, local schoolbuses will barrel down our street at 7 a.m., dropping off kids who begin their day with breakfast at school, and stay until homework is done and parents are off work.

Even the public pool has officially declared summer over -- and I can tell you, I am not thrilled about this, since I promised to take the boys and was hoping to go this week.

But after this very busy, fun, messy summer, I have been craving routine and order, even structure. I've been seeking a map to follow to bring peace and quiet and comfort back to our days.

I've read blogs, considered resources, and stared at the mess of magnets on my fridge, trying to figure out how to fit everything in and simplify at the same time.

Fortunately, I remembered exactly where I needed to look first before making any decisions.

Somehow I fell out of our usual sanity-keeping routine. My energy level has improved, but my habits have scrambled to keep up. It's time to start the day with prayer, the Bible, and a shower. Seriously, it's that simple.

While I was contemplating a more structured approach to our learning activities at home, the boys were busy learning without any plans or schooling by me (besides sitting down and reading what they asked me to, or listening to them read what they asked to read).

Over the course of the last week, they "studied" math, phonics, astronomy, history, Bible, poetry and nature study, among other things.

Their "curriculum" sources included, library books, National Geographic channel, Mommy's brain, the front yard, the backyard, Daddy's brain, Usborne Sticker Math, and each other.

Littlest spent several hours two days in a row learning his letters and sounds on He can now spell "cow."

Eldest and Middlest worked on double-digit addition, and single-digit multiplication via stickers, and then tested each other on the finer points of spelling according the many differing rules of English phonics I've explained along the way.

This is while I was trying to decide whether to sit down and do math and language arts on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or both.

I so appreciate what this blogger has to say about the whole learning thing. And I love the daily priorities she has set for her family.

The truth is, I am a Charlotte Mason-loving unschooler in philosophy. And in temperament, I need routine and rhythm, and a sense of direction guided by Someone bigger than myself.

And so I will continue to gather, and explore, and strew, and make plans, and cancel them. I will aim for Masterly Inactivity. And hopefully get a shower when I need it. Which is definitely every day.

I will follow Jesus as closely as I can, and love my children with all the strength He gives me.


Lift Up Your Hearts said...

You are a wonderful mother, Amanda! Your children are blessed to have a mother who knows their needs and seeks hard after meeting them!

Heather said...

This is the time when I always get tempted. Everyone else is gearing up for "school" doing all sorts of planning and TALKING ABOUT IT. And then I stop and look around and slowly God opens my eyes and mind to all the learning my kids are doing WITHOUT my intervention and plans. A trick I learned at those times is to find a new interest or project for myself or get back into an old interest. And so at this moment when others are planning projects for their kids and scheduling all sorts of things and then panicking because those things don't get done I am working on a new project of my own, a learning/self eduaction type project, which I am sharing with my kids as I go becaus eI think it is interesting not because I insist THEY need to learn it. And I stop and listen when they want to tell me about the new things THEY learned.

mandi said...

ah man. i left a really long comment, but then closed the box before the verifier came up.

i have to say, this post is wonderful. i am blessed to have found your words at this stage in my homeschooling endeavor. the advice to always seek the lord first is invaluable. so, maybe math doesn't get done, but did we serve and love jesus that day? i mean, this is what i want my kids to take away from their time here with mom and dad- a love for god.

and- i'm soooooooo writing a list of daily priorities like the mama on the 'brown' blog. wow- she is inspiring, no?

Bona Fide Mama said...

i love reading your blog. thank you.

ScottChrisCoriCassiCali said...

Thanks so much for stopping by. It's nice to meet new friends. I meandered through your blog a little and adore the socks you are making! *sigh* I only wish I could. One day I shall take a class. :) Come by and visit again soon.

~Bobbi~ said...

Good luck with everything Amanda. You love the Lord with all your heart and He will guide you. The Hogwarts Homechooling thing is so neat. I click on your links whenever you post them. Yes, we do like Harry Potter. We read the books together as a family. I know the taboo- with Christians and Harry Potter but we love it. We were listening to a sermon once entitled The Evils of Harry Potter and my son said "I just think of Harry Potter as good versus evil. Like Christians. God is good the devil is bad."

BTW, I see on your to-do list it says make cloth mama pads. Have you gotten Handmade Home yet by Soule Mama? It has the directions on how to make those. I'm sure you have the book. It's so you.

Catherine Anne said...

I have not been here in a while. I always enjoy your blog when stopping in. Funny I never read that you are unschooling married to a teacher... You could say things are a little different. But it is beautiful the way things work out!

togetherforgood said...

I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for poking your head into my corner of the blogiverse. :) My son goes to school, which I think is best for us honestly, but I am still constantly amazed by how much my kids just pick up in their day-to-day play and explorations. It makes me happy. :)

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