We’ve settled into our new rhythm. Life lately is completely different, but also, completely wonderful. It’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around it. I’m not saying things have gone off without a hitch; we’ve had our share of hard days already. But even with the hard days and the hard work, this still feels good. This feels right.
I say “feels,” but really, it’s not just a feeling. I know it in my heart.
This is right.
This is right for Theo. It’s right for our family. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but yes, this is right for me. For me! Who would have thought? Not me, that’s for sure. I never wanted to homeschool my kids. I was completely against the idea as a kid right up until, oh, about three weeks before we decided to do it ourselves.
I didn’t see the point, that is, until suddenly I did.
I’m happy we are on this path. I’m grateful for that final push that sent me soaring off the edge and into the unknown. And I’m confident that, even though this won’t be easy, it will be worth it.
We’ve already seen such a positive change in Theo, and he has surprised us in about a million and one ways that we never saw coming. If you read my earlier posts than you know that our decision to homeschool was largely rooted in the all encompassing vision that we have for our family. The other side of it, though, was that we knew public school wasn’t the best place for Theodore. I don’t plan on sharing any of those particulars on the blog. That isn’t my story to tell, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to share it publicly. If you are struggling with your kiddo in public education, though, I welcome you to reach out to me. Leave me a comment, email me, or message me on Instagram. I LOVE connecting with others and using my own personal story to encourage you in yours.
One of the most surprising changes that I’ve experienced since beginning this journey is how it’s transformed ME. Didn’t see that one coming.
In order to do this, I’ve had to scale back. Big time. We have big dreams, yes, but for now I need to stay in my bullseye. I can only focus on the things right in front of me: my husband, kids, our homeschooling journey, and the friendships/relationships I cultivate. Basically, our home has become home base. It’s mission control, the home office, our launch pad and safe harbor all rolled into one.
Through narrowing my focus to the work within my four walls, I’m finding myself living and working with a greater level of intention than I even knew possible. I’m working harder at a few things instead of frantically pouring my energy into a million things, and the result has been pretty mind blowing. I feel more focused, more productive, and more excited about the work that I’m doing. I’m not getting bogged down and lost in my multi tasking. I’m focusing on what’s in front of me – literally right in front of me – and just going for it. It’s so much more productive, and SO MUCH MORE SATISFYING. This whole experience has breathed fresh life into my passions and projects. And honestly, trust me when I say I didn’t expect anything good out of this for myself. I was excited to homeschool, but also kind of terrified of all the work and togetherness.
I don’t mean I’ve become a hermit. What I’m describing is NOT about staying home, it’s about asking myself, where is my focus? I keep drawing the borders of my focus closer and closer home. There is so much outside of these four walls to distract, discourage, and detract me from the work I’m supposed to be doing. So I keep my focus small. I still go out. We see friends, we go on field trips, and we continue to entertain. The point, though, is that I’ve chosen a selective few things to focus on and the rest just doesn’t matter right now.
I feel like I’m making myself sound like a hermit or a martyr. Ay yi yi. That isn’t the case at all. Oh well. I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. Anyways, here is a look at our life lately:
So we are “unschooling” which means that we aren’t just doing “school” in a different location (ie at home). We aren’t using a curriculum. I don’t want anything to do with the pace or goals of public education right now. We have educational goals that we will meet through the ways that kids are naturally geared to learn.
Another big surprise thus far has been the realization that this idea that kids really do start learning, thinking, creating, and wondering all on their own when you constantly put them in front of great materials. Charlotte Mason, the originator of this unschooling idea, said that kids are born with a natural curiosity that will last a lifetime if they are “fed a daily diet of ideas.” I love that, and that is what we plan to do in our home. Unschooling is NOT about letting your kids do whatever they want. It’s about using everyday objects, books, and moments to teach your child. It’s about constantly putting great information and supplies in front of them. And it’s about educating the child in a way that suits their mental and physical development.
Every day, we start by reading a big pile of books together. Then, I have Theo go back through each book and “read” it to me (this is what Mason calls narration). Theo then creates art projects based on what he read. Eventually, once he can write, he will hand write his narrations in addition to the paintings/drawings.
It’s during this time that we usually read a verse and talk about something that helps Theo start to understand some principles that we as a family feel are important. We are working hard on listening, following instructions, kindness, thinking of others, serving others, and respecting physical property. It’s a big list, but it’s all important stuff!
After our reading/narration/art time, I usually play a game with the kids. Last week we played French Bingo. I gave the boys berets and put on French music and together we had so. much. fun.
One thing that has been both fun and helpful is going to the library each week where I spend time perusing the shelves of the kid’s section and pick up anything that could be both entertaining and educational. I brought home a book of children’s plays last week and the boys really enjoyed acting them out as I narrated. In the photo below, I gave the stage direction that the baker was “stirring and contemplating what to bake his friend.” I think Theo nailed the look, lol. 🙂
Another example – I picked up a book that is all about the history of popcorn (hey social studies and geography!), which is my kids’ favorite snack. I can’t wait to read the book, talk about it, and then make some fresh stove top popcorn!
Theo has done a good job with his daily responsibility of helping make lunch. He even inspired Oliver to make his own PB&J one day. THAT was an adventure ;-). Another great library find was the cookbook section in the kid’s department. I had Theo choose one that interested him and we’ve been cooking out of it this week. Sometimes he complains about how much “work” cooking is, but by and large this is something he is interested in and eager to do. I want to cultivate these budding areas of interest.
We are done with all things school related by lunch, then Theo plays, does yoga while the younger two sleep, and spends some time outside. Mike typically returns home shortly after the little kids are up from their naps and then it’s time for dinner prep, dinner, and time to be together as a family or entertain others.
The kids received gift certificates to Wendy’s for Christmas and last Thursday they asked to use them for lunch. We were all having a hard day so I decided a little break and some excitement would do us all good.
As we were sitting there, munching away, I felt grateful for this opportunity. It feels good to have the kids all together again. I’m being drawn into the fun and the learning and that feels good, too. It feels good to have narrowed my focus. It feels good to have increased my intentional living. It feels good to have let go of some things that were consuming my brain space, for the sake of being “all in” and present in these moments. I don’t need to worry about half the things that were consuming my attention and focus. This really is just a season, and I’m excited to get to participate in it in this way.
We’ve settled in. We are all in. And that feels good.