Today was the first day of our third official year of homeschooling. When I planned for today, I decided to do something rather uncharacteristic of me: I planned to make today “fluffy”–somewhat unstructured and, dare I say it?–fun. Part of this came from my near burn-out at the end of last year. I had so many things on my plate, and homeschool was just one more very stressful thing that I had to do. I have lived in dread of starting this new year because I realistically expect it to be more difficult than years past because I am officially schooling two now and we have the little game-changer, the DLM. My stress and over-scheduling of last year led me to make what I think are going to be positive changes in our school–we’re really cutting back the redundancy (i.e. doing copywork for a grammar lesson and for writing) and focusing on the basics of a Charlotte Mason education–short lessons, full attention, and narration of almost everything we read, both read-alouds and Lulu’s independent reads.
Today the girls and I had breakfast, the girls did some of their chores, and we had an abbreviated circle time at the kitchen table (not my preferred location, for sure) while I fed the DLM his breakfast. Lulu read a Bible story (appropriately enough, the Mary vs. Martha story) and then I read The Book of Beasts by E. Nesbit, a perfectly delightful story and perfect for this first day of kindergarten for Louise and second grade for Lulu.
Since breakfast was finished, we then convened to the school room to survey our new white board and learn today’s agenda:
We reviewed a hymn, and then we scurried away, anxious to get on with the real fun of the day: swimming with some friends. We swam for a few hours, had lunch with our friends, and headed home. Our time in the van to and from our friends’ home was spent listening to the next-to-last CD from The Story of the World audiobook. History just sort of fizzled out for us at the end of last year, so I wanted the girls to go back and review some of what we did read and hear for the first time what we didn’t read. I stopped the CD after a section or a chapter and had the girls give me oral narrations.
The DLM went to sleep on the way home, so rest time was the next order of business. After rest time, I surprised the girls with the “following directions activity” denoted on the whiteboard: we made cookies together, with one catch: my primary job was to read the recipe and give directions; theirs was to carry out my directions. (I got the idea from this post of Janet’s, and the lecture series Janet writes about in that same post.)
Making the cookies was relaxing to me. I loved having a leisurely day in which a fair amount of schoolish activities took place. Sure, we didn’t do a lot of “book work”–none, actually, if that necessitates writing (except for the writing the girls did on their own), but I still feel good about how today went.
This is how I’m looking at homeschooling this year.
- It will be messy. Being with my children all day long is messy, both literally and figuratively. They make messes. We clean up messes. They fight. We figure it out. They whine. I discipline. And on it goes. It’s okay.
- It will be hard. Some of the things we do will be hard, for them and for me. I’m not always in my comfort zone. I stretch them. They stretch me. It’s okay. We’re growing together.
- Some of the stuff that we do that doesn’t count actually counts more than the stuff that does. (Huh?) Yeah. Not everything that’s important can be reduced down to a page from a book of lesson plans.
Yes, this year will be hard. I know it will be. But it will be good.
Their childhoods are over in a flash, and I can’t think of a better way for us to spend them.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of homeschooling.