Monday, August 18, 2014

I Wasn't Homeschooled.


I've got to admit, it feels kind of weird that this time this year we aren't taking our -back to school- lists to target, filling the cart with all those shiny new binders, and clothes, and shoes, and double checking if we've gotten it all. This year is so different.

This year, we are searching the web for the best nature study books, making sure we have our field guides in one easy accessible place in the house, sharpening the pencils we have laying around, and perfecting our morning routines. Instead of everyone getting new shoes, I've been looking for new cozy slippers for everyone. And instead of all those new clothes, I'm making sure everyone has new organic woolies that fit after all the kids' summer growth spurts.

I've been working on my own schedule and lists and chores. I am taking the next few weeks to focus on what I find is most important to get done around here and the sort of stuff that can wait. Laundry needs to get done, checking Facebook 5 times a day does not. You get the point.

I wasn't homeschooled. I come from a background of formal education. Every one of us. My journey with homeschooling will be based entirely on trial and error. I am such a newbie to it all.

The kids are new to this all too. Because we are taking them out of a formal school setting, it will take them time to adjust to being taught at home. I pray for grace filled moments when it comes to this period of our lives.

So Jonathan and I have been jotting reasons down as to why we are doing this, our homeschool mission statement. A fellow homeschooling mom recommended that we print our list out and make it visible on the days where we have lost our reasoning, because those hard days will come, frustration will overtake our heads, and our hearts will grow weary.
                     (Graycen and I worked all weekend on our first needle felting project- a little cat. we love her!)

I will share our mission statement with you when we are done writing it. For now we are taking things slowly, moving through our days with deep connected purpose with our children, observing what kind of learners they are and how we can best teach them.

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting." E.E. Cummings

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Painting With Petals.








     My kids enjoyed this so much. We spent some time, so as not to disturb the bees, and plucked away carefully at some flowers in our yard. We used what we had on hand; some tea cups and a wooden juicer. We put a little water into each cup and filled them with bright petals. Each child took a turn pressing the color out of the petals. It was hard work and each child became tired doing it. I ended up helping them towards the end to squeeze out the last bits. Then we took the crushed petals out and were left with colored water. It was so fun and we really enjoyed taking the time to make our own water colors!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Graycen's Corn.


"Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing."-Barbara Kingsover, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle


The seedlings were bought with some chore money. She decided on corn. Back in the bareness of early spring, those eager little hands pushed the seedlings down into the tilled Earth. With eagerness she checked every day, waiting, wishing, and praying for her corn to grow sturdy and tall. We measured the corn daily against the height of herself, proving it was 'knee high by july'! Then it was waste high, then before our eyes, over the top of her head! The rain and sun was doing it's job.

 Then again, so was she. She loved that corn. She played beside it. She cheered for it. And she couldn't wait to eat it.


       We referred to it as ,"Graycen's corn" and my gosh, has she proved to us it is. With her heart so big and her appetite so ready, we declared over the weekend that this, the second Saturday in August, would be the perfect time to pick her corn.  She asked me, "Mama, will you take lots of pictures of me picking my corn?" Of course, we know that she didn't need to ask.


        After picking four big pieces of corn, she called on her brothers to help with the job of shucking. They were more than happy to help!

 
             And so, on this past Saturday night, while the sun was glowing bright, and the corn was brightly yellow, Graycen invited us into her harvest to do what takes food from just being food, and turning it into a fellowship. She asked us if we would like to share with her, and of course we did. We all declared that this was the best corn we have ever had, the juiciest, and the most delicious!


       "Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thought Breeds Thought.

"Since it is so likely that our children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage." C.S. Lewis









 This day, this time, these moments, I want to tuck away in my heart forever. There's a buzz around here as over the next few weeks our family focuses on bringing a new rhythm into our home. Our homeschooling life will not look much different than our day to day lives do right now. Knowing we were going to homeschool, I have taken this summer to weave parts of a more intentional learning into our days, unbeknownst to our kids! That IS the best kind of learning, I say. The one where life is teaching you naturally.  Some methods we have been using are for instance, with Graycen we use thematic spelling. An example would be, this week we went to the zoo, so her spelling list was taken from words she found at the zoo, like amphibian and ecology. She will write and study and memorize about 15 words weekly so she can use them in her writings. They are words that will reflect her life at the moment. They will be relevant. Math will be very visual and artistic, drawing pictures to teach and learn. We will be diving into American History this year, dressing up and baking, visiting places we learn about, reading Laura Ingalls, studying Native American prayers, and the Greek and Hebrew language... how is it similar, how is it different? That is just the beginning. Out of all the year ahead of us, I am most excited to teach the kids History. We will be using our hands quite a lot this year, all of the children will. Dune and Lars will be learning how to finger knit and watercolor, shaping letters in dough and baking them, then eating them of course! We will be getting out in nature every day and doing nature studies. Graycen will be working with felt and beeswax, candle making, and sewing. People ask me, "how will you teach all those subjects, and to two different ages?" I don't really know how that looks yet. I'm sure on some days while Graycen and I are immersed in some math lesson, Dune or Lars will be making far too much noise, getting way too messy, and demanding my attention at that very moment. I know I will keep bins of legos ready to get us through those times. But what I also know is the freedom we have with this choice we have made to teach our kids at home. We can put the books down when life calls for it. We can spend too much time imagining we live in the colonial days, or take a day to picnic in the park with all of our art supplies. I do know the curriculum I have carefully chosen will allow us to bend and adjust our days according to our family's needs. That to me is just the most beautiful thought.


"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist."- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Call To Home.

I never really liked school. As a young girl I did, but by the time high school came around, my parents were divorced and I couldn't figure out how to navigate through school with a broken and shattered heart. I remember my senior year of high school my guidance counselor had to have a talk with me telling me I had to get it together if i wanted to make it in this world. Then college came, and eventually I would drop out because I became pregnant and then got married. I never went back to finish and have no degree in anything. But then motherhood came. Motherhood cracked me open in ways I never thought possible. It has exposed the very worst in me and has exposed the very best in me. 

      God has used motherhood to do for me that which couldn't be done in any school, and that is to have found my life's calling. There is no fancy degree to show for it. Most days there might not even be a fancy shower to show for it. But the sweet glory is there, and that is where I have found me. This past year, around New Year's day I felt this word laid on my heart. The word is "permission." With every nudge towards home, with every call I felt to teach my own, I would have tell myself, "you have permission to explore that... you have permission to feel that... you have permission to question that..." Because let's face it, when you swim against the tide, you are bound to face some troubles. None the less, I was being called to go against the tide, to push back against the norm, to step out of a box that was put in place by a society that we can hardly agree with, especially when it comes to the hearts and mind of our little ones.

            And so my reply would be a hesitant "Yes" at first. With the most wrestling my heart has faced in years, I began to utter the word, "homeschooling." I began to pray it over my home and heart and husband and children. I was the least of us to be able to do this. I have no degree, I never liked schooling, I barely graduated high school. Yet here I was, being asked by God to teach my own at home. So I let these words twist and entwine and go to the deepest layer of my soul, tattooed upon my heart that God does not call the equipped, but equips the called. I battle the enemy with the lie that this can't be done, that I don't have what it takes with that simple line. I fix my mind on eternity and my heart on God's Word and I set out for the day, and I do this day, after day, after day. Because that is all I really know. That is all I am really certain of. And that is what I really want to point my kids to.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

               And so I have been called to the home. I call myself a homemaker, I find that the most beautiful title after Christian, wife, and mom... homemaker. I am proud to call myself one. "Mothers are artist crafting beauty, color, aromas, tastes, fun, humor, love, and comfort in their homes."- Sally Clarkson
             Homeschooling feels like an extension of mothering to me. It feels natural to teach my own. We mothers feed our babies our milk, we sustain their lives with our own, we kiss every bump and bruise along the way, we catch them as they learn to walk, we cheer for them when they finally do, we read to them, color along side of them when they are young, we carry them around on our backs while we vacuum, or try to make coffee, we sacrifice our time in those early years to mend and kiss and catch every bit of these little people who are just bursting forth into the world and we wouldn't have it any other way. Mother's are magic. Yet, what I have found as a response to people asking me about homeschooling, is what they say about themselves, "I could NEVER do that." And I want to say, but you're magical, and you already are! You can do this, you could do this, it CAN be done! If you are a mama with this nudge in your heart to teach your own, then please hear me say this to you, you are probably already doing it. And that is what I saw in my own life when I finally started going forward in this response to homeschooling. I saw for the most part, aside from a set curriculum, that we are already home learners. We've already been teaching our own.

             So our word for homeschooling is, authentic. Why are we doing this anyway? I want to be an authentic mom, living out an authentic faith, pointing my children to their Creator, rather than the created. I want my children to grow up savoring real beauty rather than falling for the cheap and watered down. In a world that celebrates the things that can be bought, I want to raise children to celebrate the things that can be hand made and crafted. In a world that places value in money and cars and homes and vacations, I want my children to know their value set them apart when they were being knitted together in my womb. We want to be authentic people in a world that struggles to define what authentic is anymore. "We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions- if they have any- and helping them explore the things they are most interested in."- John Holt

                                                        ..................................................

             Some helpful resources for me have been all things Charlotte Mason. We most reflect her ideas on children and educating them. We will be using many of her methods weaved in and out of our daily lives. "Teach Your Own", by John Holt. This was one of the first books on homeschooling that I read and I am so happy I did because it blew my mind wide open. "Seasons For a Mother's Heart", by Sally Clarkson. Her words are confirming to my heart. I come back to her writings over and over and over again.

         



 
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