I dated a guy in college for a while that suggested I should get my degree in early childhood education. I had different ideas for my life then and instead pursued a degree in psychology and became a certified doula. I thought he was completely wrong in his calculation of my personality. Little did I know then that over the next few years I would find myself as an educator in the public school system and eventually as a homeschooling mom! As we gear up for another year I have been thinking a lot about the way I have been doing things.
For the past two years, I have tried to run our homeschool in the same way I ran my classroom. Well as every veteran of homeschooling could have guessed, that was disastrous! My Little Jedi, true to his nature, fought me at every turn. His sense of wonder and love of learning was being squelched, so this year I resolved to do something different. From the advice and example of some amazing mamas I am blessed to call friends, I began to search out a better way. It is amazing how, as we get older, we realize that our way of doing things is rarely the best way and we have SO MUCH to learn from those who have gone before.
In my research, I came across some incredible nougats of awesomeness, from a woman educator at the turn of the twentieth century, that are shaping how I do school (and life) this year! Here is a glimpse at what we have got going on!
In the past, I attempted to set up a specific school space. I put up calendars and borders. I had work bins and art corners. Let me tell you we never did school in these spaces! It never felt organic or comfortable to us and honestly most of the time we ended up on the floor! So this year I am keeping it simple! I have our chalkboard up with simple reminders, school books are on a bookshelf in the living room amongst Harry Potter and Mark Twain, and school supplies are being kept in this amazing three tiered tray on wheels!
Now we can do school where ever feels right! Be it the dining room table, living room floor or outside on our patio. Little Jedi’s supplies can travel easily!f
Our choice in curriculum is the one thing we are not changing this year! All we are changing is the way we use it. This will be our second year using My Father’s World and we are excited!
With all I have had going on with my health, my Little Bear’s therapies and needs, and the insane amount of cooking I have to do every day I needed something laid out for me already, simple to follow, and engaging. I found all of this and more in MFW. The only issue we had with it last year was how many subjects were covered in a day. Little Jedi does not do well with transitions, so attempting to cover 6 or more subjects every day was overwhelming at best and most days just plain impossible. If we did make it through everything the day felt rushed and we both ended the day stressed and overwhelmed. So this year we are trying something new!
This is where the biggest changes are! We are throwing traditional schedules out the window and adopting two new approaches instead. The first is embracing a flow to our day instead of a more rigid schedule. We do not have a set start and end time to our day. We won’t be doing certain subjects at certain times each day. Our day will instead follow this general idea (though there is always room to change it as we need):
Breakfast: when we are up and ready- I am NOT great at morning so hopefully this is not
Bible study/review/ morning reading: this will probably take place snuggling on the couch.
Exercise/yoga/snack: this is for our sanity!
Main subject: more on this in a minute…
Other/Chores: we can use this time for whatever we need.
Free time/ Little Bear therapy: Little Jedi will be free to play and explore while I work with
Tea Time: this is what I am most excited about and will write more on later, but this is a
time for exploring beautiful things!
Play/Other: more unstructured time for whatever we want or need.
With this, we can have enough structure to provide stability but stay away from the pressure that a set schedule seemed to place on us.
The other big change in our schedule is how I am structuring our curriculum. As I mentioned before, MFW is structured in a way that allows for you to spend smaller amounts of time on a larger number of topics each day. For some that is wonderful, but for us not so much. So this year we are going to try more of a block schedule. As you can see in our daily flow we have set aside time for one main subject each day. On Monday we may spend time with history, on Tuesday and Thursday it may be math, on Wednesday it may science and on Friday it may be art. It can be adjusted for whatever that week holds, but this way we will have fewer transitions and more time to explore each individual topic in greater depth without feeling rushed. I love that we can even dedicate a whole week to something like history and the next math if that is what Little Jedi is needing. I can also let things go more easily if they are not working for us or are adding too much to our day. We will have the freedom to choose the absolute best and set aside the rest! It is flexible and to me, right now, that is beautiful!
And that, my friends, touches on what I want most for this year! I want us to enjoy the beautiful, the simple, the important! Charlotte Mason once said, “It may be that the souls of all children are waiting for the call of knowledge to awaken them to delightful living.” This is what I want for my boys, to place before them stories and ideas, experiments and challenges that will awaken them to delightful living instead of what we have battled through in years past.
I am hopeful for this new venture and I will keep you updated on how it all plays out. I mean let’s be real, this is so far from what I have ever experienced in learning that I have no tangible idea of how to actually make this work, but you guys, I am excited about it!