We have concluded our first school week since Christmas break….and it was a success!
After experiencing frustration and discouragement over how our learning was progressing in the last three months, this past week was one to praise God for. I need to remember that good weeks can happen, my goals for my children’s education can be carried out, peace can prevail during our learning time. This week has proven that these three things can happen.
I have made some changes to our schedule, our curriculum and my attitude.
Schedule–During the first semester, the kids said that they would like to skip Morning Time so that they could get right to their school work in the hopes that they would get done earlier (for some reason that never happened.) I listened to them and Morning Time became a memory. That was a huge mistake! MT was the anchor to our day. It gave us material to think on, to contemplate. MT was where we nurtured our souls, cultivated virtue and in skipping it, we fell into the trap of modern education; being more concerned with getting the work done, completing skills rather than contemplating ideas. So the first thing I did this week was bring back Morning Time. (And the crowd cheers wildly!) First thing in the morning, we do our Bible reading and then we do a variety of things depending on the day. During this time I try to give the kids something to ponder during their day. This month we are reading an article by Andrew Kern, entitled ‘You are What You Behold.” This has been helpful as a stepping stone to discussion. We also use this time for picture and composer study as well as reading Shakespeare. We are also reading The Idylls of the King by Tennyson. It is so calming to start our day in this manner. The anchor has returned.
Curriculum–there hasn’t been a huge change in this area but we have switched to Michael Clay Thompson for grammar and vocabulary. We are a month in in this change and so far it has been a positive change.
Attitude–I think this is the biggest change of our learning time. During the first semester, I found myself focusing on transcripts, credits, the intensity of the work–were we keeping up with the work? Were we on the same level as the public high school? These concerns were instilling fear. I have decided to give these concerns to the Lord where they belong. My concern needs to lie in building relationships with my kids, with (yes, I am going to say it again) cultivating virtue and nurturing their souls. ) In that article by Andrew Kern that we have been reading for Morning Time, he says that we, as teachers, are being imitated by our children. I don’t want my kids to imitate the attitude that I have acquired in the past three months. I want them to imitate my excitement and awe not only in what we are learning but also in the God of creation. That kind of attitude has been lacking as of late. This week, though, the old attitude has been creeping back in. That has made a huge difference in the atmosphere of our learning time.
So this week we have been reading Dante’s The Inferno (with Emma,) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (with Caleb and Tessa) and Shakespeare’s As You Like it. We are listening to Verdi’s Il Trop, studying paintings by George Seurat, discussing what cultivating virtue means, diagramming sentences by Edgar Allen Poe, trying to figure out how to write a tight thesis, participating in a nerf war (my side won!)…. and the list goes on.
It was a good week complete with peace, excitement and fun.