I've always loved Charlotte Mason.
The way she talks about life and education inspires me.
Truth be told, when I first read her stuff back when my Siah was starting kindergarten, her philosophy sounded lovely, but completely overwhelming.
The longer we home school, the more I am able to let go of my preconceived notions of what school should be and discover more and more ways to live fully alive with all these little people around me.
Lately we've been learning how to see. That's all observing really is, training your mind to notice the details. In a way, it's the art of taking photographs with your mind. It's actually incredible all the things you notice when you are actually looking.
We took a walk around the farm today. I put the baby in the hiking backpack and I told the kids we were going to "practice seeing." I told them that as we walked I wanted them to find at least five things they had never noticed before... Before our walk was over, they had come up with more than 100 details about our farm that were new to them. We've lived and played in this place everyday for four years, and taking a walk this morning was like a whole new world to them, and to me.
The scrub brush around the farm house is loosing it's leaves. And when we got home from our walk we collected some of the leaves and had ourselves a good old-fashioned leaf rubbing party. The kids were fascinated when all the details of the leaves appeared on their tracing paper as we colored over the leaves with different colored crayons.
Later that same day we went to town and in the car without any prompting on my part, my Siah started describing to me all these new things that he had never noticed before. We've driven that old country road thousands of times. But on this drive, he noticed the sun shooting beams of light through the clouds. He noticed the different colors in the beams of light. He noticed how many peeks were on the mountain and how many stop signs we past before we hit the main road.
In life, the things we practice in our everyday are the things that can more easily sink into our bones and become a part of who we are. It's incredible how much you can practice in a day. Charlotte Mason had this lofty list of things that she felt children should be introduced to each and every week... She calls it a "feast of ideas" to lay before our children. I love that.
There are so many ways to home school, and it feels like sweet relief when you find a way that works well for you and your family. There are so many ways to lay out a week. Over the past five years I have tried soo many things, from writing out a detailed schedule for an entire year, to flying by the seat of my pants and winging it.
For us, I've found that having an overall picture paired with a one week at a time routine, is what works best for us.
So at the beginning of each week, I write out a "meal plan" of things we might be able to discover. We take it one day at a time, most days, one hour at a time. There are things that we do every day (like reading living books, and math) and things that we do only once or twice a week (like nature study and wood working.)
There is flexibility for the mornings when the Soul Man dumps the dog's water bowl all over the sunroom floor and unrolls all the toilet paper in both bathrooms; for the mornings when there's a kiddo that isn't feeling well, or for the mornings when there's simply a series of mishaps that aren't allowing us to move forward in our day in the time frame that I was hoping for.
Somedays we do formal lessons in the morning and somedays the mornings feel crazy and we all just need to put on our coats and go outside for awhile. This week we had such a morning. And by switching up the daily "routine", we ended up having a sweet day together.
We are diligent, and yet we ask the Lord to guide our days.
There are rarely two days that look alike. He is faithful and able to help us live well.
We plan and prepare, but the Lord directs our steps... and this year, our days have been rich and lovely, and good.
And I have found that this "feast" that Charlotte describes, not only inspires my treasures, but it inspires me. I have gained a love for learning as a Mama/teacher that I never expected to gain when we started this home school gig.
The One Room School House has become a gift to me, one that is beyond measure.