We have made two out of state moves in ten months.
Last June we moved from Alabama to Michigan to be closer to family and when that didn’t work out (the family part was great; everything else…not so much) we came back to Alabama. We got here about three weeks ago and the dust has barely settled.
This is not the ideal set of circumstances for a consistent and peaceful home…or homeschool…or therapy schedule.
So things have spiraled a bit; I am wrestling to hang on to my ideals in the midst of chaos.
Screens have largely replaced reading and playing.
Sugary, convenience foods have largely replaced home cooked meals.
Disorder has replaced the beautiful rhythms and routines of our home.
Reactions have replaced intentional responses.
Have you ever been there, friend?
I know; a little pandemonium…it’s understandable, all things considered.
It’s a season. The struggle for me is that it’s been a really long season.
Put the house on the market. Have lots of emotions.
Pack. Sell. Buy. Unpack.
I have been striving for normal. I keep hearing myself tell people, “once we get settled…”
The boxes are all unpacked and so I planned to start an actual school week last Monday.
And then we got sick. Five out of six of us.
So, another week of rest. Another week of “off track.”
I’ve noticed I am constantly getting back on track.
The good news, is I’ve gotten pretty good at it ;).
When there is no plan
Sometimes, the plan is that there is no plan.
Because no matter what your plan is, God has His plan, too, and that one is always better anyway.
What’s the saying? I plan and God laughs?
In a good-hearted, kindly fatherly manner, He pats me on the head and says, “I hear you, but this is what I think…”.
In His infinite wisdom, He happens to know what’s best.
I voted for a full school day and checked off boxes on a to-do list. He voted for rest.
Guess who won? Guess what was actually necessary?
Sometimes the plan is to rest. It’s to have no plan. Or a loose plan.
Sometimes the plan is educational shows on Netflix and PBS Kids and lots of read-alouds. Or a picnic at the park with some poetry. Or playing in the backyard because the weather in Alabama is perfect and in the summertime, you better take advantage of those days for they are few and far between.
That plan is okay, too, sometimes.
And when it’s time, you’ll head back on track.
How do you get back on track? The same way you do anything else…one step at a time.
Add one thing
Start with a few math problems. Add in some handwriting or copywork. Make it casual.
If your child is being read aloud to, doing math and writing a bit you are in seriously good shape. You’ve got the 3 R’s covered and that is your foundation.
If you want to get really snazzy, pop a disc of Story of the World into your CD player or listen to Peter and The Wolf by Maestro Classics. This is your “hands-off” teaching. Charlotte Mason was big on not getting in between the child and the author and although she went to be with Jesus way before Audible showed its face, I think she’d be a big fan of audiobooks.
“We are determined that the children shall love books, therefore we do not interpose ourselves between the book and the child.”
– Charlotte Mason
Keep adding one more thing throughout the week and before you know it, look at you…you’re having school for real.
Picking what to add
Our homeschool curriculum is divided into two categories: group work and individual work. When easing back into full swing, I usually start with group work. These subjects can be added more casually and don’t always feel schoolish.
Group work is orchestrated by me. These subjects are…
- Hymn Study
- Literature (to be read aloud…no matter how old your child is. Listen to this if you need convincing on reading to big kids.)
- Memory Work
- Music Study
- Nature Study
- Physical Education
- Picture Study
- Science (Lower Level)
We never, ever try to do all of those in one term. That’s crazy. Consider that your disclaimer not to try it either ;). We usually touch on each over the course of a full year-round homeschool.
I’ve also done something called “You pick 2” (thanks, Panera Bread ;)). I write work to be done in the children’s individual notebooks (<<read that article…it’ll change your homeschool!). I write everything that needs to be done and have them pick two things to do each day until the list is completely checked off.
Individual work is dependent on each child’s abilities and needs. These subjects are…
The Arts of Language
- Listening (read-alouds)
- Speaking (memory work, oral narration, speech/debate)
- Reading (early or independent reading)
- Writing (handwriting/copywork/commonplace book, formal writing, written narration, grammar, spelling)
- Foreign Language (Latin, foreign language)
- Science (Upper Level)
- Music/Singing Instruction
- Zone Work
- Other (Therapy, Summer Camp, Acting Lessons, etc.)
Again, we never do all of these every term. These subjects largely depend on your child’s individual abilities and some subjects we don’t cover at all until the child is a certain age.
In closing, no mommy guilt required
Last year after reading The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming, I became slightly obsessed with the idea of living in the seasons. It was like a lightbulb went off – God created seasons and not all of them are the same. They all exist for different purposes.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us (and The Byrds put it to music)
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Winter is restful; Spring is for rebirth; Summer is rejuvenating; Fall is reflective.
What season are you in? Do you a baby nursing every 2.5 hours? A toddler under foot? A high-energy pre-schooler? An elementary child who wants to be on the go? A tween or teen craving independence? One or more of each?
A season doesn’t have to last three months; you could be in a season this week or month or year. Seasons can even be broken down daily into their little cousins, Rhythms. Rhythms help you move through the day with grace having a time for rest, a time for waking up, a time for action and a time for contemplation.
We are in a season of therapy. Again. Still. However you want to look at it.
It has been a long season and I’m not sure how long it will last.
We are also in a season of having a high-energy four-year-old and three tween boys. And we’re in a season of “we just moved again.” Personally, I’m in a season of “my 30s are hating my 20s and I can’t survive on six hours of sleep anymore.”
So into the proverbial blender all these seasons go and I respond appropriately. I strive to work within the natural constraints of my life.
The most important thing to remember is not to compare your season to anyone else’s – especially someone who is not in the same season as you.
You cannot live someone else’s season, and why would you want to? Instead, live well within the one God has given you today.