Bleh: an expression of boredom
Especially in the off-months that define summer for us as the kids go to camps, intensives, and hang with friends, it is difficult to make homeschool look interesting, much less alluring. As examples, our truth is that I have written (though not as much as I wanted to) in between car rides, I have gardened as if my life and livelihood depended upon it, and I have done it all between catching up on much-needed sleep.
The youngest has been learning to drive (though not as much as I want her to).
And she has traveled to dance–a 16-hour-one-way drive that we made, in fact, twice.
So when I sat down to plan this-coming school year, I wrote a few things in her bullet journal, but it all looked as dry as that west Texas road we spent all those hours traversing. It looked “bleh.”
Then, in a random exchange of ideas in a Facebook group, one friend articulated so well my heart surrounding homeschool and particularly the Charlotte Mason approach. Her words were, in part, as follows:
‘To me, CM is primarily…
-an atmosphere of learning
-high quality resources, especially literature
-equal emphasis on academics, character and meaningful extracurricular engagement
-recognition of [the value of] art/ culture/ music as a part of learning.’
She went on to talk about meaningful experiences in art and music. Wow. Though it would sound repetitive to those who study Miss Mason’s approach more intensely, I think that because of where I was, I just needed a few succinct words to remind me of what we do and why we do it.
So I began.
Another energizing activity during these high school years has been the annual (though this is only the second–lol) creation of the magazine cover/ keepsake photo for the inside of her bullet journal. My intention is that her bujo will eventually become a yearbook-like keepsake, housing not only her weekly schedule, but also her monthly memories, her reflections about each week’s events, and a collection of memories regarding her fears, her loves, her prayers, and her praise reports. So I use Canva to generate a vision for who she is and who she is striving to become.
We will continue with the 4-day schedule, giving us both a mid-week break to pursue our passions (or just catch up on housework). This year, though, that break in the week will look a bit different as we formalize standardized test preparation. The older two went through some informal preparation for the PSAT and/or the SAT, and they performed well. I think, however, in hindsight, that we could have done more with this and perhaps been a little less light in our pockets had we guided them a bit more in this area. I have to marry this look back with hesitance to focus on testing skills to the detriment of those things listed above regarding Miss Mason’s approach. So, I am still working to formalize exactly what we will do, but we will use a part of Discovery Day to do something.
We will use this year to wrap up Ancient History, focusing in on Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Our reading will be largely Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I have a whole post on the value of classics and the importance of cultural literacy, so I will not expand on that here. Though our youngest is pugnacious (in her head, at least) and can probably appreciate the gory battle scenes more than our other children did, she can also daydream just as easily. I am suspecting that we will have to add in the Brad Pitt/ Orlando Bloom version of this first book (even though the movie actually combines the Iliad and the Aeneid–oy). I do love Greek mythology, though, and I am looking forward to these books, even if it is my third time reading them. I will also pick back up on our commonplace book concept in order to help our daughter with the larger themes of these works and how they help round out that ultimate conversation of how we as citizens got to where we are. Finally, we will add in books from other places around the world to fill in the gap that is often missing when you attempt to teach your children that Asia and Africa were thriving during these times, too.
This is also a season of grounding, especially spiritual grounding. I used Paul Little’s Know What You Believe with the older children, and we will break it out once again, unless the Holy Spirit leads us otherwise. I have been increasingly convinced that 1) gone are the days when we can raise our kids in church and assume that everything will be fine, and 2) the modern-day Gospel, in part because of the church, has become some combination of the Bible, some other phrases of inspiration and affirmation, and a dose of tolerance for everything and anything in the name of Christian love. I am a living witness from my college days that when you do not have a true understanding of what you believe, you become prey to the most convincing point of influence around you, no matter how jaded its message.The days before she leaves the house are short, and I do want her to have solid grounding in who she is and Whose she is. Will she make mistakes? Absolutely. That is what young folks do, and shame on me if I expect her to get it completely right. But also, shame on me if she has no firm path to return to when and if she gets lost.
So, could I make the year seem more alluring, or even enticing? Perhaps, but sometimes, “bleh” is appropriate–as long as you know why you are there and where you are going. Having said that, many thanks to those of you who write and say things like, “Thanks for allowing us to see your family grow over the years” or “I’ve watched you for a long time; you were one of the first [black] families I saw when I began homeschooling.” You truly encourage me to share even the “bleh” days. God bless.
(By the way, as we continue to flesh this all out, I will update our curriculum and schedule page).