Everyone in our neighborhood starts school next week. It feels like summer just started so I’m still not sure how I feel about school buses swinging by our home again so soon.
In my last post about getting rid of to-do lists, I wanted to share my process in how I got rid of to-do lists. This doesn’t mean lists altogether. Again, I’m a list person, so there’s that. Which also means I’m making quasi-lists for homeschooling our son this year – his first grade year – and I’m serious when I say he’s growing way too fast.
I’m very drawn to several different types of homeschool styles. Charlotte Mason. Classical Education. Thomas Jefferson. Waldorf…etc. And although we take different pieces of each when necessary, we typically intertwine a strong literature-based yet relaxed approach.
Yes, we do what most would consider Christian Unschool our kids, but that doesn’t mean I throw caution to the wind. Where our children really thrive is when we follow interest-led learning – hence relax, head outdoors and read a ton together. Most of these things offered at a young age allow our children to develop interests in a natural, life-giving way.
So this year, I do have some plans I’ve prayed about. Like our weekly, like-minded co-op on Fridays. This leaves us with three to four days at home each week where we get to dive into a few things the kids are interested in. My oldest is still only entering first grade so there won’t be a ton of structure outside of reading, writing, math and understanding history and geography as much as a six-year-old is able. But we are implementing some classical conversation curriculum (mainly geography, public speaking and history).
One book I just finished devouring called Teaching from Rest was an invaluable guide as I continued tying up the loose ends in planning our days ahead. I don’t want to burn out by November and want leave room for reviewing how our time and curriculum are suiting our needs (yes, my children and I together – mamas need space and time too!), and flexibility and rest within our schedule. I know our family well enough that when we plan too many things we lose sight of what matters most.
We also just received devastating news a few weeks ago regarding a close family member who will need our help significantly more this next year, which also helped me zero in on why we’re homeschooling: Relationships.
So this year, relationships come first. Everything else comes second. Here are a few things I have written down to help guide our planning in our second year of homeschooling:
• Have at least 2-3 days at home with nothing on the calendar to just be (do “school” stuff, read aloud, take walks, love on each other, listen, discuss, dabble in art, write, listen to music…etc.)
• Have 1-2 days devoted to being in nature – God created a beautiful world and this is where I feel our children first learn the most about themselves
• Start each day with morning time / symposium – a beautiful time each morning we get to gather, pray, read devotionals, discuss our thoughts on things like poetry, art, as well as listen and connect with one another before the craziness of our day begins
• Read a lot, aloud & alone – we already do this a ton, so, yeah
• Be flexible with each other and life – Our family is still so young so sickness and other life events are sure to throw us off balance, and that’s OK
Finally – my motto this year is “Love First” – If we love first in our actions, responses and throughout our daily lives together and with others, everything else comes much easier.
What about you? Do you have plans for your homeschool this coming season? Are you still sorting through them all?
I can tell you that planning is awesome because it truly is. It helps us understand where we want to go and the path in which we’ll get there. But please don’t ever lose sight of why you’re homeschooling. Your plans may fall to pieces at some point as God may have other things in mind for you and your family.
So lean in and trust Him. He’s got this all figured out. And be diligent mamas. But be flexible. And use a pencil!
And most importantly, keep it simple so you and your family can remain free. Free to love. Free to worship. Free to be who you are and do what you love. And free to change the world for the better.