Friday, February 17, 2012

On Taking Breaks...

So, I started in to this new school year determined to be more disciplined about doing school with Michelle even when I didn't feel like it. Last year we took a lot of days off of school just because I didn't feel like it - I blamed it on our unsettled situation, our travels, and the fact that "well, she's only in kindergarten and can already read first grade level readers, so it's not a big deal if we don't do school today." And while some of that is legit, some of it was just my own lack of discipline. So, now that she is 6 and we are into first grade ('real school') I purposed to be more disciplined. But wowee, has it been hard some days. Given that I am gone at langauge school for half of each day, there are a lot of days that I'd really like to use that limited time at home for something else. But overall, we've pushed through and have been doing pretty well. Until today. I came back at lunchtime after my morning class exhausted only to find the kids all exhausted too. So, we took a break. We snuggled up on the couch and read stories together, everyone (Mama included) took a 'rest time', we planned a mini-virtual-birthday-party for far-away family members who have birthdays this week (read: gave ourselves a good reason to try out the little chocolate mousse cake thingys at our neighborhood boulangerie/patisserie =), and took some time to do some outdoor observations and a nature journal entry.  It turned out to be a really lovely afternoon. 

Part of me felt guilty that we didn't buckle down and 'do school' - no math or spelling or narration or copywork got done today.  But, I was reminded of something that I think Karen Andreola wrote about with regards to a succesful homeschool day: a successful homeschooling day is one in which the child was given something to do, something to think about, and someone to love. I think we covered those bases pretty well today:  we did make some nature observations and drawings, we did read some good literature, and we took the time to think about dear friends and family far away and celebrate their lives even though we can't be with them.   And probably even more importantly: we enjoyed each other.  One of our reasons for homeschooling in the first place is to develop a strong family culture.  This won't happen if we are always grating against each other as we fight to check off everything on the to-do list.

Most importantly of all: we are refreshed.  I am ready now to use the weekend to tie up the loose ends that we didn't get to this week and to begin anew our educational endeavors on Monday.  Yes, there is absolutely a place and time to be disciplined and push through a task even when we don't feel like it.  But there is also a need for balance and for sensitivity to what the Lord is prompting us to do in each moment.  I am so glad that I didn't give in to that feeling of guilt today but rather followed the nudge of the Holy Spirit today to relax and enjoy my family.

1 comment:

  1. When I have "things to do" I want to get them done. Which means my first 2 years of homeschooling weren't much fun at all for my dear daughter. Or me. Or my husband. But we accomplished a lot. Then a friend of mine told me "whatever isn't done today - you can do tomorrow" which is not a revolutionary concept - but it helped me to see beyond my checklist for the day. It was also a turning point for me when I realized my oldest was 9 - really "half grown" in some ways because many kids leave home for college at 18. I realized that I wanted her to have fond memories of a smiling momma - not a slave driving mama that just couldn't let go and have an afternoon off. And I wanted her to remember more than diagramming a sentence (even though she needs that too ).... I wanted her to remember making turkish delight and eating it while looking out a snowy window, daydreaming that it was Narnia and she was Lucy... and I wanted her to have sweet quiet moments when she could reflect and write, or read, or just ponder things... and those aren't things that you schedule. Those are things that usually happen... in down time... and in quiet retreat... It changed my life..