As I drove this morning, I noticed the number of new neighborhoods being built on the same main thoroughfare as our subdivision. I thought about our neighbor’s comment that the advanced kids at our neighborhood school are now out in a temporary building and having to supply their own bottled water. Where will the children of these new neighbors go? Who’s talking to the school? Who’s looking holistically at the plight of the kids in an overcrowded school? As I pondered all of this, I began to get excited about our upcoming school year and about the blessing and privilege we have in being able to educate our kids at home.
I am amazed that since I began praying to the Lord about the year and the changes coming our way, I have such a joy and peace about the upcoming school days. I’ve named this summer our “get back to basics” summer as I’ve gone back and read old documents and milled through various saved pictures, files and articles. We started so simply, and over years, I picked up this workbook and that aid and the next great curriculum thinking to get just 1 more thing into the day. The kid’s planning and cooking nutritious meals reminded me of our first year, where cooking was a regular part of our school routine as a way of learning math and teaching life skills, like cleaning up. (Boy, did we fall off of that one). After reading and reflecting, I’m back in touch with the basics that got us where we are—good literature, notebooking (I got some great, inexpensive resources from The Notebooking Corner—www.notebookingcorner.com), copywork, and narration. I have visions dancing in my head of the kids owning their own learning through developing the notebooks, building treasures to revisit for years to come. I even made a decision that our first week of school would involve more games, establishing notebooks, hands-on projects and reading time. For the overachiever that relishes diving elbow-deep into pencils and paper, that’s a huge step for me, but I’m grateful for the growth that allows me to back up and consider other ways to educate. Thank God for the freedom to teach and learn via far more venues than I was exposed to when I was in school. I sometimes understand why public schools struggle as they do given today’s more kid that has no interest in sitting still long enough to be bored to death with facts and figures.
I told the kids that they would have the first opportunity to work on their notebooks during our vacation. I will buy them both disposable cameras, and they’ll have plenty of paper and pencils (all colors) to capture the beauty of the California coastline. My oldest brooded over the idea with her usual skepticism, an attitude that I’ve allowed all too often to permeate my energy and enthusiasm about the tasks I lay out before them. (It’s weird how, when the kids were in private school, it wasn’t a top priority for me that they had to have fun while learning. Why now do I take their less-than-eager attitudes as a personal attack?) Today, however, I stand undaunted. I’m writing this in part because I know I’ll have to refer to it occasionally when the vision collects a bit of dust—LOL! This will be a special year for our family—I can feel it, and I’m thanking God in advance for it.