Sorry folks. I’m still here. I haven’t gone on a holiday or break from blogging. There’s been no disasters or rushed full days that have kept me away from the blog world. It’s actually quite the opposite.
This is our year of relaxed back to HOMEschooling and we are very much enjoying it and the boys are profiting greatly from the decision. Our days are slow and delightful. We have no rushed early starts to go anywhere outside of the home. Breakfasts are slow and I can potter here and there with chores while the boys have a little playtime afterwards knowing that we have ALL day together and plenty of time for our studies.
In a natural transition point we move to our cosy red couch and start our studies with bible reading, memory verses, devotional reading and character building novels. From this point we decide according to our mood what we’ll complete next. Sometimes we stay at the couch reading history, science, grammar, readers, and various picture books that the boys have piled high to be read to them. Other times we leave the remainder of our reading and couch time for after bookwork, experiments, activities and crafts.
We’re doing lots of hands on activities, experiments, cooking and plenty of arts and crafts. Just today we did a science experiment to explore why stars seem to twinkle; we made a loaf of damper; we turned a feather into a quill and made our own ink; and we created a still life display and used watercolour crayons to draw it. Yes, all in one day. It might not seem like much to those who do these sorts of things as part of most school days but this hasn’t been the norm for us for the past year. It has been wonderfully exciting to return to the real richness of homeschooling.
Even bookwork is less painful without the stress of rushing. I’m not worried about getting things finished quickly and can happily wait out the greatest procrastinating student until they realise that yes indeed I have all day to sit and wait. It’s interesting, I actually get less procrastinating from the boys when I’m relaxed.
The boys have also become more independent in their bookwork, not needing me right by their side at all times now that I have all the time in the world to give them. Isn’t it funny how that happens? Last year when I desperately needed them to be able to do a little work by themselves while I dashed off and did something else, they just couldn’t or wouldn’t.
We’re also ploughing through texts. When you consistently do a little work in a text it’s amazing how quickly you can complete the book. I’m discovering that books that took nearly a year to complete last year may well end up being completed in half the time this year.
So in all our busy-ness last year we outwardly looked like we were doing a lot but in reality I can see now that we were achieving very little and in many areas (discipline, socialisation, consistency with memorisation, handwriting, writing and reading) we were going backwards.
“What on earth was I doing last year?” you ask. Racing from one activity to another almost every day of the week. In the beginning it was a commitment I made to a new homeschool support group in order to help it grow to a point where we could pick and choose the activities we each wanted to participate in. Later it was out of necessity as the group organiser needed help to keep the group going during a difficult and busy period for her. But towards the end of the year, once the organiser had returned and the group had grown, participation for us was more a habit or norm that I thought was an important part of week. It became something we just kept doing even though in my heart I knew God was calling me out of it.
This year we have not returned to the group and we don’t miss it at all. In fact the boys and our homeschooling are flourishing without it. While I understand that it’s convenient to have a group for excursions, activities and easy socialisation, is a group really the best situation for these to occur in?I’m coming to realise that the answer to that question is “no”.
When we go to the museum, Science Centre or art gallery do we really want to go as part of a group of 20 or 30? People will say that there are some places that only allow group bookings. I say perhaps those places are most in tune to the needs and lifestyle of schools and probably aren’t all the worthy of visiting in the first place. (One place we looked at wouldn’t allow parents to stay and participate or watch. They would not alter their school-view of organisation to accommodate our group.)
When we want to do a craft activity, do we really need to do it in a group situation or would there be fewer distractions, more resources, and more opportunities to explore and be creative at home? Oh I know it’s easier if someone else does all the organising and work and we can just “show up” for the activity but if we were the sort of people who preferred for someone else to do all the work, would we be homeschooling?
When we want our children to learn social skills do we find a large group of children, with mixed values, beliefs and upbringings, who aren’t being properly supervised and toss our children into the mix? Sounds a lot like a school playground except that there are mums sitting on the side lines busy chatting with each and occasionally glancing towards the children. Okay so that’s a little harsh. Not every occasion is like this, but some days are. Socialisation is where we had the worst experiences with group life.
My head hurts just thinking about it all but back to my original point. Things are going wonderfully this year. Leaving the group scene has been a huge blessing for us. Oh and in case you’re wondering, yes we still have plenty of contact with other families and their children. In fact we are spending more quality time with people as the group environment is not really conductive to friendships either. For friendships to blossom and be maintained you need to have one on one contact. So once a week we meet with different friends to do simple things like bike riding, swimming or playing at the beach. There are no expenses or grand planning required just a nice relaxing time of fellowship with other homeschoolers.
When you don’t see any new blog entries, it’s probably not because I’m busy but rather that I’m taking the time to enjoy homeschooling with my boys. They are only small once and that time is quickly getting away from me. I want to experience the remaining time in slow motion enjoying the simple things and not racing through the days, weeks and months cramming it full of stuff that won’t matter down the track.
So count my missed blog entries as days of blessings, and the days when I do blog as days when I just can’t contain my thoughts and want to share it with you.