The Value of Not Planning (too much)

Right after I posted my last post, I ran across this quote while reading someone else’s blog.   Miss Mason speaks here to the heart of not over-planning:

“They must be left to themselves for a good part of the day to take in their own impressions of nature’s beauty. There’s nothing worse than children being deprived of every moment to wonder and dream within their own minds because teachers and adults are constantly talking at them, not leaving them a moment’s peace. Yet, the mother must not miss this opportunity of being outdoors to train the children to have seeing eyes, hearing ears and seeds of truth deposited into their minds to grow and blossom on their own in the secret chambers of their imaginations.”

 

Charlotte Mason, vol. 1, pg 45

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How (Not) to Do It All

It feels as if so much has gone on in the past few weeks until it’s difficult to get my head around it, much less articulate all of it on paper.   Somewhere in the last month,

1)      My husband changed jobs

2)      My job changed, forcing me out of my comfort zone and into new uncertainties

3)      Dance season began, with unexpected investments in time and money

4)       We brought home a puppy (in many ways like having a new baby, I now realize)

Another change that occurred, and I now realize that it was far more significant than I thought initially (since it had become a relatively new habit), was that my MP4 player broke.   The little electronic tool that had become the center of my morning devotional crashed and burned, just about the time that my devotional had become routine, and I had no back-up plan.

 

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, life has happened—school still happens, the house still has to be cleaned and maintained (enhancements are beyond me right now), kids still have to be fed, taken care of, and loved, and a business needs running.    I’m not complaining, just stating that I’m overwhelmed.       Even in the midst of realizing that it is all for my good (speaking primarily about #2 listed above), I’m just plain whipped out.   Seriously.

This week is our fall break after nine weeks of school.   Monday was a field trip for the kids and me that somehow wound up being a homeschool trip for 25 people.   Tuesday, I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone during a grocery store visit that lasted 2 hours.   They rearranged the store, so now I’m relearning shelves, plus I took my girls with me, which didn’t help me focus any on the task at hand.    (I wrote that elaborate description of my errand because it is a microcosm of what is happening with my life these days).   Wednesday, I sat down to get a better handle on all the changes, and to figure out what all of this means for me.   Thankfully, the word that has continuously come my way—from a number of angles– is to prioritize.    Thank you, Lord.    So I looked at my schedule in blocks of time and embraced the ebb and flow of work that I’ve often taught to my adult students.    Here’s what I discovered:

The “non-movables” are here to stay: ministry to my family through school time, non-school family time, couple time, and home management.   Since the “non-movables” are a given (thank God), I must submit each day to the Lord’s priorities.  And guess what?   Some days the non-movables aren’t the priority! That doesn’t mean that they won’t be taken care of, but it means that if I believe the Lord has gifted my mind and hands in this way, then I must make the most of His gift.   So, with that in mind,

In the earliest portion of the week (Mondays and Tuesdays), I have time to write, and need to make good, effective use of it.

I have blocks of time later in the week to exercise—a rarity in the house now-a-days.   The running joke of the house is whose Mii is sleeping the hardest—we’ve all been really tired.

I set goals on a number of sewing projects that have hung around for far too long.    The date written down, even in pencil, gives me hope (LOL)

The time between waking up with my husband and actually getting out of bed is my quiet time with the Lord.    However, tuning every other care out in order to focus in is a task for me, and that’s where my player came in handy.    I really need another player.    My devotional time was priceless, and because of the demands of my family, I was ministered to while operating with free hands to minister to my family through breakfast preparation, last-minute school plan adjustments, etc.

 Each day, what God wants, not what I want.    Too often, I want to be Superwoman, or at least some version of it based on the images of a woman who does it all, but looks like she does nothing, that suffocate my sense of self.   I may not get done all that I want, but there is peace and prosperity in accomplishing His purposes.

Finally, I’m not a slave to social media, but as a business owner, I recognize its power to quick spread the word and disseminate information.   I just have to exercise wisdom in being a good steward of when I use these tools and what I use them for.    An angel mentioned HootSuite to me, and it’s been a life saver.   I can quickly access Twitter and Facebook (and three other networks if I had them) at once and do what I need to do without the 4-hours of time on average that I’ve read as being common to most Facebook users.   YIKES!

Okay, this simply scratches the surface of all the places that my mind has been, but just writing it down is energizing.   I promised myself that today I’d catch up on my mending (husband has buttons missing on about 4 shirts), and sure enough, I’ve let the weather change catch me regarding finishing my youngest’s bathrobe.   We had our first day of 60-degree mornings this week, and she had to stroll around in an unfinished robe.  Oh, well!   I’m off to complete it now as I listed my deadline as Sunday!   God bless!

Planners and planning

Trying to type a new blog post while cleaning up my “blog debris” post-upgrade is like deciding to dust and rearrange the family room furniture while setting out the gallons of new paint.   (Yes, I’ve been there, too).   I’ve spent much of the morning re-categorizing posts that got lumped into my miscellaneous file, “the Candy Jar,” while trying to pen my more recent thoughts.   All of the cleanout, re-arranging, and posting, led to a new page documenting our tentative schedule for the coming year.   I also have a page coming regarding curriculum soon.

It was these planners that I’ve used for the last couple of years that got me started in this vein.   Don’t they just beg you to write something down :-)?

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(I must figure out what is this hairline on my MP-4 player’s camera lens that won’t go away!)

The other catalyst to begin laying out next school year was a re-read of one of my homeschooling bibles, Wise and Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind.    Outside of the Bible, I have several books that I consider my own God-sends in terms of how we approach home education.   Of course, TWTM is listed above.   Here are others:

Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer McCauley

Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by the Clarksons

 No matter where I am on this journey, the words never get old, and without fail, something leaps off the page with every read.

Interestingly enough this time, while reading Bauer’s work, I had an epiphany about seasons of a homeschooling parent and why different information leaps on the page.    I was intrigued as I opened this book and saw my original highlighting, turned down pages, and underlining.   Why did I write this?    What was so important about that passage?    And then I remembered where I was the first time I read it, and I began to laugh—almost out loud.    You see, the first time I read this, I was intrigued by the classical method after feeling as if Charlotte Mason’s approach was not enough (can you imagine?) to prepare the kids for further studies.    I had not even homeschooled one year.   I felt as if I’d set the kids off on the wrong path, and I was in a rush to correct my error.    I needed more structure than I felt I had, and if there’s one thing that TWTM is full of, it’s structure—3 hrs./ week to do this, 5 hrs./ week to do that, and on and on.    So I highlighted times, hours, schedules, what books to buy, and tons of other details.   Thank God I didn’t actually get to inflict all of this onto the kids (with all due apologies to TWTM purists)—I think this would have been the point of mutiny aboard our ship!   I found myself overwhelmed to the point of paralysis; apparently others experienced the same, prompting the writing of The Well Educated Mind.  (Though I’ve not read it, my understanding is that the latter is written after the realization that the original work is quite intimidating).   But again, because of where I was when I read it, I did what was appropriate for me at the time.

With seven years under my belt, I’m still learning, but I’m also much more confident about what works for our home and our school.    I’m also a Charlotte Mason enthusiast, though not a purist.   Hmmm…that’s worth a minute of my time.   I had yet another epiphany during our long journey home from the not-so-wild west on this past weekend.    It takes time for us to grow into our own homeschooling skin.   After years of angst and frustration, commitment and recommitment, I am finally at peace with the facts that…

I consider ours a Charlotte Mason-styled homeschool, but (gasp!) I use a textbook or two.

I follow a classical schedule, but I am also free of the guilt that the kids don’t memorize anywhere near close to what a classical purist would suggest.

I have yet to teach art or poetry with any sense of assurance or confidence.

(I’d list more, but with several starts and stops, I’ve been writing this post for a number of hours, and it’s time to move on to other things).

So this time when I read The Well-Trained Mind, I reminisced over where I was on the first reading.    I wasn’t focused on the schedules, the exact books, or the nth level of detail.   I found myself focusing instead on the highlights of Ms. Wise’s approach—the way that she educated before she had heard of the term ‘trivium.’   In looking at the cornerstones of how she approached learning—without the technical terms, without the research, but just teaching as she was taught by her “Meme and Uncle Luther,” I saw places where I “got it”:

We teach phonics.   And Latin grammar.    And critical thinking skills.

We memorize—some (scriptures, multiplication tables, American presidents).

We read.   And we read.  And we read.

We write.   (And we write.    And…)

We talk.   (And…)

There are more specifics that make me feel very good about the kid’s progress.    But, ultimately, I’m at peace with who we are, who we’re not, and that no homeschooling policeman will come and declare them uneducated.    Silly of me to ever have thought otherwise.