Yesterday marked the official end to Ella's first year of formal schooling, Kindergarten.

Long before having children or even engagement (!) we discussed what kind of future we envisioned, and that included talking about education. We agreed that public school education would be the path for our children and we left it at that. When our daughter was young we did not set out to educate her at home. I love books and Jesse loves nature so we naturally surrounded her with both avenues of enjoyment and adventure. The result of this lifestyle has been that Ella reads incessantly and has a true love of animals and being outdoors.

About the time our Ella turned Kindergarten age we realized we'd be making a change in our education choice. We simply desired to continue educating her at home, doing what we've been doing since she was so young: surrounding her with books, fresh air, opportunities to create and imagine.

In thinking on this "formal" year of schooling, and really, what we've been up to since our children have been babies, I suppose our philosophy of education, for living is this:

  • a Culture of Respect (for God, for people, for creation)
  • a Culture of Work
  • a Culture of Health (food, exercise, rest)
  • a Culture of Learning (questions are a good thing!)

We set out to have a healthy lifestyle for our family, consistently ask God for His wisdom, and a sweet culture of loving to learn has evolved. Seeing his big sister learn has enticed my son to ask that we do "schooling" together. He has learned to write his alphabet and the names of our family members. As a boy his curiosity is more geared toward the outdoors, building and figuring out how things move. His love of learning is well on it's way.

I will not say that this first year of incorporating a "formal" time to teach has been easy. Teaching is the responsibility I enjoy the most. Providing the resources to encourage a love of learning and creative growth is a blessing and privilege. However, teaching and lesson planning is not my only responsibility. It has been a stretch to combine this responsibility with home keeping (do I really need to list all that entails?!) and nurturing the growth of my 3-year-old son. I love the growth that takes place in a child between the ages of 3 and 4, however, the growth that also takes place on the mother as she is mothering takes a lot of energy as well. This has been a sweet year to see my son grow and learn, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit I had a lot of growth to do as the sole person responsible for him during the day and as well as teaching my daughter.

What I mean to say is that schooling at home is hard work. You don't just sit around and hope a book knocks you on the head and you learn something, and you don't just let your children play computer games or watch TV all day (well, I don't!). There is intentional, purposeful guiding and relating that takes place encouraging children to fulfill their potential as a creation of God.

So, as I look forward to Summer Break and have a loose schedule, more free time, adventures more frequent, I am thankful for this past year of hard work and sweet learning times with my children. I will soak up the sun and rest and trust Providence that I will be rejuvenated for Fall when 1st Grade begins.

I have to share Ella's "final" project for school. She asked to have a Fairy Party for her next birthday and since that is some nine months away I came up with the idea of making a Fairy Board Game to unleash her creative juices and use her interest in fairies. She came up with the locations (Sweet Field, Butterfly Meadow, Toad Mud, Snake Lake, Deep Dark Forest) on the game board as well as the path. After we put all that together she practiced her handwriting making the labels and the game pieces (which ask subtraction, addition and letter blend questions). She also drew all the fairies herself.

A dinner of pizza and gifts of books capped off our celebratory "School Is Out" evening. Praises, it is Summer Break!