The transition time between Summer and Autumn is here, and I am ready for apples, cardigans, cool crisp air, hiking, sitting by the fire pit. Over the past week or so during our daytime errands and adventures the roads and stores have been quiet as children began their school routines. Yet here we are continuing on with things just as they have been.
I think my children are oblivious to that other life of schooling outside the home. It seems as if they know they have it good, the freedom that comes from learning here. Yet, I notice that we are different. While the children's routine is natural for them, it is all they have known, I once did live life at a different pace, on someone else's schedule.
At this time of year, there is not a sense of loss. No, there isn't. There IS a sense of otherness, though. I think some people read homeschooling writings or hear homeschoolers talk and think those with a homeschool preference find themselves better or above other educational choices. While that might be true in some cases (and can be true of anyone with an opinion on their education of choice), I am ever in the sense of awe that we figured out a really cool way of living. Our life doesn't stop and start, it continues. We're not always waiting for the next school year/grade/building, we just keep moving along and if we are in tune with what is going on, the next step of growth is simply obvious.
Today at lunch I mentioned to the children that we would be beginning our work next week, and they looked at me. I said, well, that really we'd only be adding history, math, science experiments, cursive and spelling to our days as they have been consistent over the Summer already with art projects, reading, piano and Scripture reading. They simple said, okay, as if it was no big deal. The work and creativity that my children have produced this Summer, led me to be comfortable with a gradual, late in the Summer transition to our formal school work.
In some ways it is hard to quantify our school work. How do you REALLY measure knowledge retained and used? Does a written test do that? A verbal test? Grades were very important to me in school as they were a way to receive university scholarships (which they did). Everyone's situation is unique and I'm thankful for my experience and learning in college. I can't help but thinking, though, that schooling without pressure would have made me more well-rounded in my education.
It has been such a gift, these years being home-based with the children, to live life without (too many external pressures). One can't escape all of life's pressures, and although I am not trying to, it seems I have stumbled onto a life where certain pressures have been eased. Schooling without pressure for the children means they are learning for learning's sake. The responsibility rests on me to have a behind-the-scenes structure, and it seems as if they are unaware of this invisible flow to our days. It is just that, invisible; we aren't bound to the clock, we are bound to live. We are not bound to a certain educational program or making a certain grade, but to understanding what we are learning so that the concepts, lessons linger for a lifetime.
I'm sure each year at this time I will have similar thoughts as the seasons move and change. It always seems I get contemplative at the same times each year evaluating who we are, what we are doing and why we are making certain choices. The other day I was with some women who were asking me about homeschooling. I didn't feel the need to go into detail, but simply said that we have an order to our days and that one has to be self-disciplined to stay committed to the responsibility of providing an environment of learning. I was so disappointed to then be told by these women how they were not self-disciplined and could never homeschool. I don't homeschool because I have self-discipline. I homeschool because it provides a great way of learning for my children. I am self-disciplined because that is required for this life; but honestly, I think that is true of any homemaker (the need for self-discipline). Although homeschooling isn't as rare as it used to be, it is still the different choice (and I felt that to be true talking with these women), and I think that difference has really resonated for me in the past year as we've truly settled into this way of life. This different way, though, is normal for us; it just seems to make sense.
No one knoweth the things of a man but the spirit of a man which is in him;
therefore, there is no education but self-education,
and as soon as a young child begins his education he does so as a student.
Our business is to give him mind-stuff,
and both quality and quantity are essential.
Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure,
but we know where to procure it for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books;
we must open books to children, the best books;
our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.
Charlotte Mason, Original Homeschooling Series Volume 3