It’s funny how much of a home educator’s emotion can become tied into the state of the homeschool environment. I am sure that, at least in part, this connection has everything to do with the amount of time and energy we pour into curriculum, lesson plans, and all matters education. Personally, I find that, if I allow it, one child’s confusion or frustration, or a spirit of whining, can totally overshadow all of the wonderful things that are happening in our lives.
This is the season of resolutions. And whether you buy into the idea that you need to begin a new year with new intentions or not (I personally do not), I find myself drawn to the many articles that are available right now on how to transform your homeschool in this new year. So it should be no surprise that what I’ve thought about most how I would want our school to look in 2013. As if that thought didn’t offer a wealth of opportunities, for we are far from perfect, I came to this conclusion as I’ve thought about this semester: I don’t want to change a thing.
For the person who is always willing to tweak and tinker, and who never uses anything in the format in which she received it, it seems odd to admit that I don’t want to make any modifications to what we are doing. Given our extracurricular activities, I made a semi-conscious choice to not include more formal studies in music and poetry. Each only takes a few minutes, but thinking about who to study and preparing myself and the kids with tools, etc., became overwhelming in the midst of everything else going on. I am sure that the purists of Miss Mason’s approach could discuss at length the poor choice I’ve made, and to be sure, we might pick up some things as we go. However, I don’t want to set the stage for something I consider far more detrimental to our school than a year without formal poetry or music study: overplanning.
As a purposeful digression, my MIL and I were having a related conversation not too long ago. There is a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in churches. I don’t know if it is specific to non-denominational churches or not. The practice, you ask? Walking to the pulpit in the middle of a sermon to lay down money, commonly called “sowing into the Word.” This act is separate from a formal offering, but instead creates walking and busy-ness in the midst of the speaker’s message—a huge no-no in the traditional church community. I was asked how I felt about this. Is it disrespectful and/or disruptive? Is it “tipping God?” I think not. Who are we to hinder anyone when the Spirit strikes them to move? And though I believe in decency and order, I also think that, in some cases, we have “programmed” the Lord completely out of our services. And that is what I don’t want to happen here.
Perhaps because our school will be one seat emptier after this semester, I am much more cognizant of the need to pour into the children—not academics, necessarily, but training in life. I want to be sure they understand why we made the decisions we did, and what is important to us as we raise a family. These are conversations that we’ve had before, but now I’m aware of the need to create time for them in our day. I want to hear from them, and have a dialogue. Most of all, I want to create room for them to just be, and for God to just be in them. It occurs to me that we sometimes become so obsessed with the mechanics of homeschool—the day-to-day academic opportunities—until we miss out on opportunities that mean so much more.
Just as one example, I’ve mentioned previously that our youngest joined a book club at our local library. I’ve also mentioned my general disdain for the books, but given the youngest’s almost equal amount of disdain for school right now, I have lowered my standards and allowed her to stay in the club. This past week, the club selected a book where the content is over her head. Even in reading the back of the book to get a feel for it, she wasn’t clear on all of the words. But, she gave it her sincerest effort, sequestering herself on a couple of nights before bedtime (from her, that’s dedication!) to read. After a couple of nights, she came to me and asked if I would help her by reading the book to her as a part of our school day. Now, as embarrassed as I am to admit this, there was a time when I would have immediately said, ”No,” because it threw the reading schedule that I put together—last summer, mind you– way off track. Yes, I’m scratching my head, too, but there they are, my exposed feet of clay. But I’m learning. And so I applauded her for coming and trying to get help in an area where she needs it. She did not skim the book, finishing but not understanding; she did not throw in the proverbial towel and beg to quit—all behaviors that have plagued our past. She wants to learn, and she made the adjustments needed to make it happen. The book I was reading probably fits more my idea of quality literature, but okay. This is a quantum leap forward in her attitude about learning, and shame on me if I can’t get out of my own way to accommodate her. We will still have plenty of time to read books that will hopefully be more to both our liking—I believe God for that, and He’s always been faithful.
As a final thought, I love God’s Word, but I also love the places where He left the page blank. One of those places is where He said, “I AM.” He did not qualify it for us, but instead allowed us to fill in the blanks. Who do we say that He is in our homeschool? Who do we allow Him to be, and are we leaving room in our planners for expectation of the unexpected? May God open our hearts, mind, and lesson plans such that He can do a work this year. God bless you, dear friends.