Back to School, Baby!

Last Monday, we began our family’s sixth year of home education.  Things have changed since our rookie season.  Back then, one child was homeschooling (second grade).  One child was attending a local pre-k program, and our baby girl was one year old, happily coming along for the ride.  I jumped into the classical method because I had friends using it.  It also made a lot of sense to me, a former doctoral student in education.  The classical philosophy meshed well with what I believed about learning, so we dove right in.  We belonged to a small but inspiring little co-op that met in a fabulous botanical garden.  It was positively dreamy.

Now, our home life–and thus, our educational atmosphere–looks quite different.  We have four homeschooling students.  This “school house” of ours contains a seventh grader, a fourth grader, a first grader, and a 3-year-old preschooler.  We have a one-year-old daughter who complicates things while also helping us to keep a light, cheerful spirit and a humble perspective.  While I still value many elements of a classical education, we have shifted into a Charlotte Mason style of learning and living.  We live in a different state with a very different climate.  We belong to a far larger co-op inside a lovely church.

So much change.  But our love for learning at home remains strong.  Some of our motivations are the same, and new ones have come.

Now we begin 2017-2018.  I love planning a new year of books, activities, and exploration.  I love that Charlotte Mason folks think of education as a “feast” with many tantalizing offerings to taste and enjoy.  Isn’t that a terrific image as we approach education as a joy and an adventure?

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I’m excited to have a preschooler again.  His natural curiosity is delightful, and his growing hunger for books warms my heart.  In week one, we read and played with Blueberries for Sal.  This week, I’m offering him Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.  I’m planning simply, low-preparation activity boxes to help keep him engaged while I attend to other kids, but I also hope to maintain the sense of fun as we dig into new stories.

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Whether you are simply exploring homeschooling, continuing a year long schedule, or returning “back to school” as I am, I wish you peace, growth, and happiness on your journey.

~*~Erica~*~

 

May Days

The month of May has its own vibe.  Summer is close.  We can almost reach out and touch it.  Word is spreading of farmers’ markets, plant sales, and park playdates.  The weather, in this area, can be unpredictable (nearly 80 degrees yesterday, calling for frost on Sunday), but the promise of warm days in a nice long stretch is out there, and the possibility makes concentration on the sit-down work a little hard to come by.  My children are very aware of the warm joy (and a little extra freedom) building as we close out our official academic year, but they aren’t the only ones.  I feel that tingle, too, and I find myself cutting lessons short in order to embrace the equally (if not more) enriching experience that the outdoors provide.

But I have something else drawing my enthusiasm.  Planning!

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I love planning for our new homeschool year.  When I plan our subjects and the experiences that will accompany them, I have the opportunity to dwell in the blissful possibilities.  I allow myself to imagine my ideal weeks without the interruptions of dirty diapers, pet dramas, dental and medical appointments, ill-timed broken pencils, apparent math aversion (Is that genetic?), irritation with irregular verbs, and the other realities of home education.  I like to just dream, make lists, wish, read inspiring books  and blogs, and roll around in the happiness of it all.  Of course, I eventually have to explore the realities of our homeschool, our budget, and the needs of four (soon to be FIVE) children.

But these May days are set aside for dreaming, for gathering, for living in the certainty of the magic that will come when my dreams and my real plans converge in another homeschool year.  I’ll get to the nitty gritty in June and allow those days to take on an excitement of their own.

What does planning look like for you?  ~*~Erica