Friday, August 18, 2017

Beginning Again {Year 8 @ The One Room Schoolhouse}

I've never struggled to find motivation for school as much as I have this year. I've pondered what to do with the little kids, as they are both in the thick of their mischievous stage, clearly unable to practice much self control in anything, and far from being any kind of self sufficient. What do mamas do when they are trying to engage with their big kids, when their little kids are loud and full of opportunities for growth (also known as interruptions)?

Our oldest is starting JUNIOR HIGH {What??}. Our oldest daughter is in need of some focussed and purposeful pursuit in math and language arts. My fourth grader is diligent and self motivated and I know she'll have no trouble getting through her studies this year. And our middle boy needs to dive head first into learning to read. The task before me seems somewhat daunting, and on the verge of impossible probably because, in a dozen and a half ways, it is impossible.

I've cried a river at the thought of all that beckons me in this task of facing another homeschooling year. Then of course, in His unfailing faithfulness, The Lord met me this week in three tender, sweet ways.

 On Sunday, our pastor shared a story of a man and his boy who set out to hike 1000 miles. There's way more to the story than what I'm mentioning here, but my pastor told of two things that allowed these men to accomplish such a task.

First, they knew that there was a 100% chance that they would run into hardships, and they decided ahead of time that they would accept them for what they were and they wouldn't let those hardships prevent them from finishing the task that they had set out to do. Secondly, quitting was not an option. They would simply put one foot in front of the other until they walked their last step.

Truthfully, his sermon had nothing to do with homeschooling, but for me, it had everything to do with homeschooling. There are years that are just going to be straight up hard. And that's ok. Hard is inevitable, no matter what path I choose. But I want to determine that the hard won't be a means for me giving up.

The second thing The Lord reminded me of was the sweetest little blog post that I have read dozens of times over the years, but it has never ceased to remind me that this homeschooling gig doesn't have to be complicated. Rather, it needs to be full of 4 simple cornerstones...

1. A Continuum of Constant Learning….

Live your life. Invite children to join in! Education is a continuum of everyday life. 
Read together.  Pray together. Sing together. Work, bake, garden, chore, clean, sew, fix, build together. No artificial demarcation lines between schooling and living. Just live a one-piece life. Just live authentically and holistically.

2. Contagious Creativity

Explore! Be awed by His world! Restore Wonder! Be a creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning.

When we are awed by something — we can’t help but pass it on. It’s our natural tendency. And if we are in awe of God — we become natural, unstoppable, top-notch teachers. A zest for learning and life and our Maker will be creative and contagious–the children will catch it!  Simply be awed!   

3. Curiousity
Read, read, read. . Fill the house with library books. Play classical music. Post the art of the masters about the house. Go for walks in the woods. Learn a new language, a new culture, a new poem. Write! Everyday set out to discover again and again and again. Simply live curiously. The whole earth is full of His glory! Go seek His face…

4. Consistency

Consistently pray. Consistently read. Consistently keep the routine. Consistently live an everyday liturgy. Consistently celebrate each moment!
Children thrive in routine. So do households. Have hardtops: times that you fully stop to pray, to read, to write. Regardless of what isn’t done, what isn’t finished. Make a full stop, do the needful thing, then return to meals, laundry, household management. Simply consistently be consistent. 

When I remember these four cornerstones, I feel less overwhelmed with all the details. It helps to keep my eyes on the big picture.

And the final way the Lord met me this past week was through a little book that I stumbled upon last summer. I gave my copy away to another homeschooling mama, but a lovely friend, gave me a new copy a few days ago and I have sat on the couch with a candle burning, the rain falling outside, with a cup of tea in one hand and this rich, little book in the other. Teaching From Rest is a book every homeschooling mama needs to get their hands on. Here are some of my favorite quotes__

"Surrender you idea of what the ideal homeschool day is supposed to look like and take on, with both hands, the day that it is. Rest begins with acceptance, with surrender. Can we accept what He is sending today?"

"Rest is trusting that God's got this, even if I'm a mess, even if I'm not enough, even if I mess up everyday. Because I do."

"God never demands that we produce prodigies or achieve what the world would recognize as excellence. Rather, He asks us to live excellently__ that is, to live in simple, obedient faith and trust. He asks us to faithfully commit everyday to Him and then do that day's tasks well. He_is_in_charge_of_the_results.... So, That writing assignment on the plan today? Do it well. That math lesson that your child struggles over? Sit down next to him, and do one problem at a time, slowly and carefully. Smile a lot. Lavish him with love. Because whether or not he becomes an excellent writer or a proficient mathematician is not your business to worry over. Your business is that single assignment today and loving him through it."

"Remember your true task.

Surrender everything.

Bring your loaves and your fish, even if you think them completely insufficient.

They are insufficient.

You are insufficient.

But His grace is not.

God is not limited by objective reality.

His yoke is easy and His burden is light."

I am asking the Lord to help me remember these things as we begin another year here at the One Room Schoolhouse.

I am one forgetful woman, and by golly, I just want to remember__ God's got this.

He's really truly got this.

I am called to diligence and love, consistency and grace, awe and wonder and joy! Lord help me to GO FOR IT, and keep my eyes wide open to see YOUR faithfulness always at work in this place.

And so we begin another year.