Have you ever been cruising a long in life and thinking everything was fine and dandy, but then something just gets in your way and makes you re-evaluate the scenery? Well, I have. Maybe I'm turning 40 this year and having a mid-life crisis, or maybe I just needed to stop and think of where I was heading with this whole circus we call homeschool. But things they are a changin'.
A few months back a friend sent me the link to the Amongst Lovely Things blog. It happened to be one of her posts on Teaching from Rest. I think I took one look at her profile pic and thought, "What does a mom of 3 beautiful corn silk haired girls have to say to this mom of 2 very rowdy stinky boys about rest?" Two dainty girls = 1 rowdy boy for the record. Well, it turns out she had a whole lot to say. Actually, she has SIX kids, and so she probably knows a whole lot more about needing rest than I ever could, so I gave her book a chance. I had dismissed the thought at first - Rest - is it really possible for a homeschooler?
We had been doing really well, or so I thought. I actually enjoyed our studies last year. We had a lot of fun, but when I started really thinking about it there were things I wanted to add or subtract. There were maybe goals we hadn't met, but I wasn't giving myself permission to re-adjust. I had gotten so comfortable doing what I was doing that I had stopped really asking what was important. The greatest thing of importance was this: relationships. Relationships first to God and then to one another. I was feeling like we were doing so much good that little good was coming of it. Sure, we had great fun and still learned a whole lot, but I was starting to see how isolated my oldest had to be to accomplish all that he had to do each day. So not how I envisioned things. Yes, independence is good and should be built each year, but maybe not necessarily as much for a 12 year old as he had last year.
Sooo...that's when I gave this little book a chance. I had skimmed through Teaching from Rest and happened upon a few paragraphs that made me throw all my plans out the window (enter mid-life crisis.) I loved her thoughts about being who you are. What makes me tick as a homeschooler will make someone else crazy, but isn't that the beauty of God's creation? There are mountains & valleys and oceans & streams. All are so different, but all are so lovely too. If you hate projects and art, for goodness' sake I release you from them. Woman be loosed lol! If you are a dork about office supplies like me then let's go to the local Staples Back to School extravaganza together! But first can we stop for coffee? Double-tall, Iced, Soy latte with one raw sugar, please and thank you very much! We are all created in his image, but we are all so different too. Please don't come to my blog and leave being anyone but who you are, or ever feel the burden to be like me. I'm just as flawed as the rest of everyone else just in case you didn't already know it. I would love to see moms be able to appreciate those differences in one another. We are all on the same team when it all comes right down to it right?
I also loved her thoughts on simplifying: "Who says you need to do math, writing, literature, science, history, foreign language, religion, vocabulary, handwriting, art, music, and poetry all year long? Here's a little secret: you don't. And chances are, if you are trying to do all those subjects, you very likely aren't doing a very good job of them."
Oh, yes. I know this one well. That's how I was felling - like we were doing it all, but none of it very well. This thought was very freeing to me. You mean I don't have to do that stuff all year long, and could possibly cover it even better than if I had? What about trying to have a more relaxed poetry study that is around the table together just for fun? My kids adored it when we did poetry tea time rather than reading poetry for "school." Reading it to enjoy it together was so much better. Nope that never got checked off a list, but it was far more meaningful that way. When we ate food from different countries or visited international stores wasn't that far better than reading about cultures in a book that we marked on our schedule? Yes, of course it was. And those things weren't even planned. GASP. Having less on the schedule leaves room for those memorable experiences. I want more of that. Don't you?
I'm still sort of digesting all of this. There were far more thoughts I haven't yet let sink in, but mostly I'm just taking a little time to breathe and really ask again - Why am I doing this in the first place? I'm kind of quick to listen, but slow to change. But, if you see me changing things around here it's because I'm starting to listen more to who I am and who my kids are when planning our year, listening first of course to the one who made us all. It will have nothing to do with anything I had done before not being good - I just need to approach school with a more open heart and free spirit maybe. You will still see me planning. That's just who I am (remember we are being who we are), but maybe I'll not be so hard on myself in the future. I hope you will do the same for you.