a. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity.
b. The condition of being so stimulated.
2. An agency, such as a person or work of art, that moves the intellect or emotions or prompts action or invention.
3. Something, such as a sudden creative act or idea, that is inspired.
4. The quality of inspiring or exalting: a painting full of inspiration.
5. Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
Inspiration. I’ve had a wealth of time to contemplate this word over the last few days. As I shared in my last post, I have a friend who spoke of how our family inspired her. Another blogging buddy was kind enough to say that my stories of our homeschooling journey inspire her as a fellow homeschooling parent. Their words truly were like honey, and I’m thankful. Yet, as I pondered this word and what it truly means to inspire or to be inspired, I had a revelation as it pertained to homeschooling. This is perhaps old news to many, but bear with me.
I blogged earlier in the school year about how excited I was with all the supplemental activities and fun things to do that I’d found for the youngest to compliment her history and science work. Even though I don’t do a lot of prep work with her, I was especially proud of my preparation. I mean, I had Squidoo lenses developed (though crude), sites bookmarked, craft instructions/recipes printed, and the youngest even exclaimed, “Mom, this is so much fun!” Most homeschooling moms would agree that those compliments don’t come often, so that in itself was worth capturing. I resisted that spirit of pride, though, knowing that it would be hard to stay that on top of things given the overflowing capacity of my proverbial plate. Sure enough, by the time the winter holidays rolled around, we were back to the bare bones living books and workbooks, with little of the creative supplements with which we began. My Olympic games moment was a brief, bright moment amidst a number of pretty dull and boring days. I was back at familiar ground—science has always been a struggle for me as most of the common household items are not common in our household (smile). Buying the Apologia science kits from Creation Sensation was a huge help for me, though convenience has its cost—literally. In the younger years (preK-1), though, I prefer to design my own science rather than get into textbooks too early. So here we are with me putting off this week’s science until I can get this, or putting off history until I can research that.
I think the problem is that I didn’t understand the term inspiration—at least not with the youngest–and so I approached her lessons as if I needed to have it altogether, neatly packaged, with the moral of the story to tie it altogether with a bow on top. Of course, Charlotte Mason promotes the concept of the mind feasting on ideas as a central focus of her approach. I grasped this when it comes to the older two, but I think my exposure to too much pre-packaged, primary-level cuteness temporarily blinded me. This quote that Karen uses as a part of her signature really put things in perspective as of late:
" Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. " — William Butler Yeats
Wow! You mean I don’t have to have my package complete before I approach the day with a 1st grader? No, I just have to give her enough to inspire her to do more. So last week, we watched a video on smell. The first thing the youngest said was, “I wish it was the Magic School Bus.” Indeed, when the older two were her age, I had taped a number of Magic School Bus episodes that were relevant to the things we studied—biology, insects, electricity, and a host of other subjects. By now, I can only locate one tape. But, we moved forward with what we had—a PBS video series on the five senses. After watching the smell video, the youngest was inspired; with her brother to help, she made her own scented soap (honey, vanilla, and some other interesting ingredients, mixed in with soap combinations from around the house—so far, no rashes). We watched a similar video on taste, which inspired her to conduct her own experiment with what happens when you taste foods while holding your nose. I didn’t create anything; I just took what I had and lit a fire.
I’m not beating myself up for what didn’t happen. Life does indeed come at you fast, and we deal with it. For me, that’s meant taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible to teach all the adult students who are now returning back to school when work isn’t available. Our family has been able to recoup our own losses from my husband’s stint of unemployment. The older two have planners and work very independently, so the impact of Mom’s lessened availability is minimal. With the youngest, less planned means more one-on-one time, but I’ve wrestled with how to spend that time so that I can meet several sets of needs. Having had this revelation, I thank God for the freedom that comes from not having to fill the pail, and I focus on exposure, attitude (my own as much as hers), and then I get out of the way. Happy fire lighting, friends, and God bless.