Do you know the answer? It is the one thing for me that outweighs all other general pluses of educating my family on the homestead. Of course I love that we can freely study our bible and have God be the center of our homeschool. I love being available to my children 24/7, and them to me. Yes, even when they drive me batty, and I them, this is still a major bonus. Being able to provide a custom tailored education based on the interests and learning levels of my children is pretty huge as well.
There is one thing, however, that complements these big bonuses found only in home education. Have you guess it yet?
Am I the only one that embraces this humongous gift of living and learning at home? Did you get sidetracked and forget that you run the show? Are you caught in the daily grind? Don't be afraid to step back and follow your instincts. Never before has this unique attribute of home education been more appreciated and respected by me than right now; this very moment. As each hour, day, week, month, and year goes by my appreciation of the gift of flexibility grows more and more. With that appreciation comes my willingness to wield it with wild abandon.
We started this journey out this time around the way I've seemed to do most things since, oh I don't know, birth?! We dove right into the frigid water of the deep end, willingly, head first. Is there really any other way to do things? (I know there is, but they typically elude me.) It seems my nature is either to plan things to death and forego ever starting, OR dive right in clothes and all. Somewhere along the line the middle ground disappeared for me. Presuming it ever did actually exist.
We've been tooling along here at The Zoo Crew quite well with our tutelage at Royal Academy. In the beginning we started our with a little deschooling, getting to know each other time. It was well worth it to us on many levels to spend this quality time together, especially for our resident elementary age child coming to us from public school with a lot of emotional luggage in tow. The toddlers, well, I'm sure you know how they are. They learn no matter what we are doing, and they are all too happy to tag along on all of our adventures.
After everyone got settled and a little more comfortable with our new lifestyle we settled into a "canned" curriculum which we loved, and it served us well at the time. When we started out with My Father's World I thought it was going to be our thing through the end. I mean, we really did love it, but alas I am always the rebel.
From there we etched a little closer to my eclectic heart by tossing out the "canned" curriculum and worked on areas of weakness for a while which led us into following our own version of the four-year plan laid out in A Heart of Wisdom. As we enter back on the track we laid out for this school year, after a much needed extended break over Thanksgiving and Christmas (despite finding two of us --me included-- still sick after THREE MONTHS of illness in our home), I look longingly toward spring. It's not the renewal of life in the growing things on our land that calls me. It's not the warmer temperatures and the sudden downpours. It's not the promise of animals and an abundant harvest. I love the winter and all it encompasses.
What I look forward to is the completion of this phase in our homeschooling journey. I look forward to closing this chapter and writing a new one. Once spring hits, our textbooks will close, this plan will end, and a new chapter will lay blank before us. I have different plans this time around. The plans that lie ahead do not include the textbooks of this school year. They may not include literal textbooks at all, unless they come upon us naturally, but we do not plan to be held captive by chapters and workbook schedules.
I am looking forward to embracing the natural opportunities for learning that exist all around us; our home, our community, our land, our family and friends. My heart has always been eclectic with an unschooling tendency, and that is exactly where I am being led for the next season. When I watch my four and five year old (21st and 26th of this month, respectively) learn with wild abandon despite the absence of textbooks, or sometimes in spite of their presence, I am reminded that we are all learners all of the time. That is, unless the love of learning is snuffed out for us by false timelines and artificial learning environments. One of our guests over Christmas, a public school student, made a statement that shook me back to my core belief system, "Why are we learning when we're not in school?"
It is my desire to instill a love of learning in my children so deep that there will be no compartmentalizing involved. Living IS learning! It is exciting. Learning is human nature. It took me years, in some cases over a decade, to reignite my love for certain "subjects". I literally thought I hated (HATED) history. Can you believe it? History? Boring? Are you kidding me? Science was right there too. You do know just how fascinating science is, right? I somehow managed to come out of high school with the idea that I just wasn't smart enough for science. Did I mention that I was a honor roll student, editor of the yearbook, and student of the month? Yet, somehow I was so diminished in this subject area that I sought outside instructors for my older homeschool graduates. I just couldn't cut the muster, or so I thought. Craziness!
The three students being guided into adult life at Royal Academy will hopefully be spared these difficulties to overcome. My prayer is that they will love learning and not see it separate of living. I long for them to embrace life and living fully with all the pitfalls and triumphs that living will surely bring. Mistakes and victories alike will not define them. They will merely usher them to what is next all the while providing valuable wisdom to carry forward to their next chapter.
Do you have a vision for your home school? I would love to hear about it!