This is our 6th year of homeschooling life in our home. I am hoping that with time I am learning more about what works in our family and what leads us quickly down the path of hurried, anxious and frustrated homeschooling. This usually starts with me as the mom/teacher and then trickling down to the children, until we are all taking turns sniffing our tears from sheer exasperation and left wondering why on earth we are still doing this homeschooling thing. Aaah! but you see, each year I think I grow little wiser, and a little okay with not checking all the boxes.
I have learnt the painful way, that the fastest way to drain the life out of our homeschool fire is to load our early days with heavy logs right at the onset of the year. Yes! A sure way to kill the passion for an awesome year of learning is to try to create pinterest-worthy expectations of myself, my kids and what a purchased curriculum resource can deliver to our homeschool. I have learnt that it helps to start with a clear idea of what you want the year to be, and specifically what words will capture the essence of hopes you carry in your heart for the year. For me, I know that I want a homeschool year that is Restful, Relational, and full of Rich Learning. Not one that is rushed, and ” heavy laden with much toil”! When we are restful, cultivating relations with each other and with great ideas, and making room for the colors and textures of meaningful learning, then we are no longer pursuing learning as a list of to do’s, but rather the pursuit of all things True, Good and Beautiful.
To kickstart this year of restful, relational and rich learning, I am taking deliberate steps to cultivate habits and attitudes that I believe will get us moving into the right direction. This is not an exhausted list, it is merely one that I have identified after honest reflection during the summer break, taking into account where we all are at as a family and where we want to be.
1) Practice healthy rhythms that steward time well and nurtures body, soul, and mind. Sleep early. Keep first things first. Dust off the gym shoes. Eat well. Drink tea. Create. Mind your own business.
2) Remove distractions in order to stay connected, present and content. Set a time for everything, and aim to be faithful with the hours dedicated to homeschooling. Look into each others eyes instead of at the screen.
3) Keep learning time simple and sweet, while encouraging natural inquiry. Smile and laugh a lot! Take breaks. Allow life to happen in all it’s imperfect little ways. Record the silly questions children ask, take note of the tough ones too, see the clues hidden in their questions and the door of opportunity to go on rabbit trails.
4) Engage all the senses in learning, play, sing, touch, talk, taste, go and see places, discover, explore, take time to smell the roses, get hands dirty, listen, be silent, create, examine, live the life of learning, do it like you are having a long conversation with all the many facets of life.
5) Encourage responsibility and ownership of children’s own learning. Set goals and clear milestones to be celebrated. Build up with your words everyday. These a beautiful, unique people who really matter.
6) Take time to reflect and capture memories of the year’s learning journey. Take pictures, write journal entries, reflect and take note to stay grateful. Model this habit of reflection with the kids.
I hope these simple intentional practices will give as a good start towards a year of restful, relational and rich learning. I know that it will take courage to pursue these because these days it take courage to live from a place of rest and trust, rather than from the empty flurry of activity, that is fueled by the fear of failure, or the subtle dread of not being good enough. And I believe I can be courageous because we do not walk this path alone. Our heavenly Father has promised never to leave us, nor to forsake us. He carries our world in His hands, and sets us free to dance our way into the rest that comes from Him. It’s going to be a great year of learning. I hope it is for you too.