Friday, August 24, 2012

Tips for Teaching a Houseful, Keeping a Quiet, Peaceful Home and 
Our Non-Assembly Line Curriculum This Year

It’s funny. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve always been one of those people that sets her mind big. It’s hard for me to start something on a small scale and work my way up. I dream of large-scale ideas and dreams. The Lord gives me passion for those things and I follow if I feel His leading.

Twas how I began homeschooling.

I did my research. I formed friendships and bonded with like-minded people. People who had the same goals I had in teaching my children. I had set the bar in how I wanted our homeschool run. I remember sitting on the couch years ago and explained to my husband what I wanted to accomplish academically with our children (of 5, 3 and 1 yr.) I had it all mapped out (or so I thought). It was detailed and simply perfect. I was going to keep our children u-to-date with the rest of the traditionally-schooled children and soar above. My thoughts of “soar above” were about to change though. Suddenly “soar above” took on a new meaning. A deeper meaning and it wasn’t academic. That’s what scared me as a traditionally trained school teacher.

As our children have grown physically, spiritually and academically the past few years, I have to be raw in saying that my entire view of what education is has changed. It has simplified to more than what I ever thought it could and for good reason.

We have four children and the curriculum and at the pace our family was going, we would have never survived with all of the detail. As I’ve said before, I know that God speaks through people. The feelings and emotions I was having finally revealed themself through a sweet fellow blogger, Quinn at Reformation Acres. She wrote two posts entitled Making Time for Education and Our Home Education Program (love her diagram!!). 

As I read this, it all made sense. My quest for what education truly is had begun to come together.

I know that it must have taken some guts to write what she did, but as she stated her desire for God to make her “bold like a lion”, I know that God will honor her words and her ministry to other homeschooling mothers.

As mothers (especially homeschool mothers), we are so eager to compare ourselves to the next-best-mom. How much can she accomplish in a day? What is her plate like? What curriculum did she order this year? How many home-cooked meals can she whip up in a 45-minute time increment? Does she garden? How does she make time for it all?


She’s doesn’t!

No day is ever run perfectly. No day revolves perfectly to a “T” as her daily planner has been planned. God calls us to do our best (II Timothy 2:15) and leave the rest up to Him. He will guide us in our patience and our tasks (and interruptions) throughout the day. He is the one perfectly in control and not ourselves.

  I have to admit that in the beginning of our homeschool days, I thought I had it all together. Kelli could handle anything and Kelli just got tougher and tougher with whatever was dished out.Kelli could handle the discipline of the children.Kelli could handle the academic pursuits of the little minds I was to teach. Kelli could handle the keeping of the house. Kelli could do it. Boy did God ever throw me a curve ball!

As my children have grown, I have come to the realization that I can’t do it all on my own. I depend on God's grace everyday to get me through the next day, the next hour, and the next minute sometimes! Sin is a nasty thing and to be correcting it all day in the hearts and souls of the very little beings you bring into this world can be tough. The very little blessings that you changed diapers of and rocked to sleep. That you nursed when sick and guided in making choices.

It’s easier said than done to hate the sin and love the sinner. Those very words take place at our breakfast prayers most days. “Lord, help us today to hate the sin and love the sinner because you loved us so much to look past that sin, love us anyway and die for us.”

As we begin our school year this year, I’ve had to remind myself yet again to take things slow. To not jump the gun in staying oh, so busy with rushing here and there. To keep a quiet and peaceful home. To have “face time” with my littlest ones (tickling, reading together, lap time, cooking/baking together, coloring, etc.). To remember that they cling to schedules and structure. To continue training them in their daily chores and character. To continue reading God’s Word and applying it in everyday circumstances. To model for them what it’s like to ask for forgiveness, be a hard worker and love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

That’s why we do this! Right?!

So many aspects of life fall back to John 15…pruning. God will and does prune the branches that He wants to make better in our life.

Is that 1:00 violin lesson really going to matter in the long run? The fact that you’ve kept precious babies awake to rush off to that violin lesson, then they fall asleep in the car when you want to hurry to the grocery store while your son has his lesson. They’re cranky now as you’ve had to wake them up. You rush through the store so that you‘re not late picking up your little man at violin. Never mind. You are in fact late as you pull up to see that he’s the last one to be picked up. Now your toddler has successfully fallen asleep in the car. They’ve had just enough sleep so that they won’t take a proper nap when you arrive home…exhausted and in need of some quiet time.

So, was the violin lesson really worth it? No.

To have stayed at home and baked cookies, read a neat book about constellations or done your favorite United States puzzle together would have been better for everyone! Especially mom. 

Something that I’ve always given thought to is “How can I base this out of my home?” Can you find someone to come to your house where you can take the rest of the kids out in the backyard with suits and popsicles to play in the sprinklers for 30-45 minutes during a lesson with Junior? Get creative. If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you!

Don’t be afraid to be “set apart” as you turn down offers to every co-op field trip.

As much as we don’t like to admit it, our husbands are great overseers of our homes. God appointed them as leaders in our homes for a reason.  They are great at viewing from the outside in whereas we’re into the details, ladies.

We’ve researched for months over the perfect math curriculum for little Susie, but as we ask our husband’s opinion, he gently replies with “Well, which one costs less and takes up less of your time?” {Sigh…all that research just went down the drain.} He’s right. They need to eventually become independent learners. Not spoon-fed students. So, if they both teach that 4 + 4 = 8, then they’re both probably great curriculums.
Something that's been very difficult to do, yet the most influential (besides following that still quiet voice, the Holy Spirit, the lead in our schooling) has been to {gasp!} UN-learn the assembly-line approach to education, which was what I had been taught through public schooling at University and RE-learn what true knowledge is in ownership over subjects, the kinesthetic (hands-on) approach, fostering and nurturing my children's gifts and talents that God Himself has given them.
I think it's amazing how many high school Seniors have NO inkling what they want to do with their lives when they graduate. I remember having a big, white board in one of classes as a Senior where we would all put up what college we were going to attend and what our major most likely would be. So many would place up the college, but had no idea what they wanted to do.
Why was this?
Because they hadn't been given the opportunities of free learning in school. We had been part of an assembly-line education. A one-size-fits-all approach. Multiple choice tests that we had to pass to move on to the next grade. Fill-in-the-blank quizzes and questions on things we would most likely never remember because there was no passion there. Ug. I remember graduating and saying to myself, "Finally. Now I can do what I have passion for."

My goal this year (apart from last year) is to simplify. Simplify by teaching as many subjects together as possible (Bible, Character training, Science, Life Skills, Nature Journaling, Geography). The others will fall into place.

So far, our Workbox System is still working for us however we don’t do all of our workboxes at once like most people. We split them up throughout the day to give us breaks and keeps the interest flowing.

We do 3 per student in the morning:

Avonlea: Box 1- Math, Box 2- Writing, Box 3 – Copywork/Handwriting

Lincoln and Norah have various preschool/Kindergarten games and exercises as well as some simple A Beka workbooks and readers

Then, we spread out the next 3 (independent) during Quiet Time (Science which we read together and then Avy journals, A Beka Grammar and then A Beka Spelling). Lincoln does some math and letter sound games that he can independently do (matching, etc.)
We’ve also decided as a family that we’re taking more of a approach this year through living books. It’s something Charlotte Mason couldn’t emphasize enough and it’s a way in which our larger family can become more independent learners as they read what they are interested in and not what is forced upon them. I have slowly been putting together our family library of good, twaddle-free literature. Weeding out the Disney books and other stories. I love how each child is slowly becoming addicted, um, er, inspired by books. The computer and TV shows are limited to where they have been picking up books left and right, reading together, reading to each other and from that reading, asking questions, narrating and becoming inspired to independently find out more about a topic on their own. True learning. (Another topic for anther post, I guess.)
In conclusion, my prayer for this year is to simplify and focus on quality, not quantity. To continue challenge myself in Miss Mason's Scripture-based theories of true learning and knowledge. 
Education is an Atmostphere, a Discipline and a Life.
 ~ Charlotte Mason
  Blessings and have a wonderful weekend!


Rachel E. said...

Your blog looks great. Now I need tor remember Vine Living is your blog.

Hailey Koronczok said...

You are such a inspiration:) I love your blog, thanks for all the wonderful post, they all seem to brighten my day:))

Linda said...

I appreciate your views and I recognize that 4 kids the age of yours mean that your school has to look different than mine does. We use on online curriculum, Time4Learning, as our core, and branch out from there. I agree that seeing my child become...err...addicted to books is a marvelous thing! The beauty of homeschooling is that we can each do what we need to to see to the needs of our children, and that is a great thing. Happy Homeschooling!

Joy Comes in the Morning said...

I hope you don't mind if I share this with our Co-op group on facebook. Great post!!