Friday, April 7, 2017

Returning to Joy: Perspective & Obligations in Daily Home Education

Having decided to welcome joy back into the home educating experience, I sat down to seriously consider the Joy-Givers and Joy-Drainers in my day with my children.  The joy-drainers are those activities and perspectives that suck the energy out of me.

Obligation and a Time-Starvation Perspective were two of the first things I added to my list of Joy-Drainers. I found myself wondering about all those dreams and hopes I had; about home educating when I would have my own children to teach one day.  All those fun, creative things I thought I would do with my children.... Why wasn't I not doing them? They would be on my Joy-Giving list, if I were doing them.

Well, it turns out I was not doing them because I believed I didn't have time and there were other, higher priorities. What was hogging all that time? At first it appeared to be the core program of my children's education.... However, looking more closely, I recognized that first, it was my feelings of obligation to that core program that was draining my energy. Secondly, there are a couple subjects  -no, not subjects- simply a few topics or concepts within a subject that really have me dragging my feet. (I'll share more on that in an upcoming blog and how I've been able to mitigate some of the pressure and some of the surprise blessings that came to me just when I needed them).

Understanding that my time-pressured perspective played a huge part of draining the joy out of my day, I knew I needed to do something right off the bat, and that was simply deciding I do have time for those things that breath life and joy back into our home!   

With that self-given permission, I freed myself  to get creative and re-purpose an old toolbox into the preschool and kindergarten toolbox that is shown in the pictures on this post. I felt refreshed (being creative has a way of doing that for me) and come fall my littlest two loved -and still do- using their toolbox for their workbook time.  Putting this new perspective into action has taken some time and although not perfect, our more formal schooling hours have taken on a lighter, more gentle feel.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Returning to Joy: Letting Go of Fear in Home Education

I made an important necessary decision this past fall. And-it has been like a breath of fresh, day-lit, sparkly-spring air for my family and I.

I made a decision to return to joy. 

Fall 2017 I decided to return to the joy I had known in those early years of home educating my first child. Those were playful days; days of laughter and enjoyment! No, every day was not picture-perfect. But the difference was, that back then I didn't wear this cloak of heaviness that somehow I later found myself under. Somewhere along the line I lost joy. Somewhere along the line I changed; I was more hesitant, more uncertain. I was afraid.

In those first days I didn't know fear. I didn't have fear of being inadequate. I didn't fear falling behind. I didn't fear what other home educating mothers might think about my approach in schooling at home. I certainly didn't doubt my education plans and goals, or if my children were missing out on something. In fact I felt quite confident. I couldn't understand how some of my home educating friends were getting bogged down and burdened in the process of trying to figure things out in their new journey as home educating families. I just assumed that perhaps it was because it was completely new to them, not having been home educated as children themselves.

How then did this fear sneak in? -This sense of I'm not doing enough; This, I can't seem to keep up feeling? Was it the drain on energy that comes with the financial lows we experienced and the divided attention it caused me at times? Was it when my friends with children in public school had kids entering grade school and the gap between our child rearing styles-despite my awareness of them-became more obvious in so many ways? Was it the time it took to carve out our own way in grade school when everything was so obvious and natural in preschool through to the end of grade 1? Was it trying to figure out the juggle of educating multiple children at different stages?

So many areas could've been a possible open door for fear to creep in. But one thing I know. I am certain that fear kills joy. I have no doubt that fear drains the life out of a person. I also know that fear isn't always obvious. Often I don't recognize it when it arrives in my thoughts and settles into my heart. Yet, I am not designed to live in fear. My creator commands over and over again that I am not to give way to fear. And so I need to be on guard against fear. And when it comes -as it surely will- I need to stand firm and fight back so that I can live (and educate) the way I was designed to: in joy, not fear.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and love, and of a sound mind."
-2 Timothy 1:7 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Home Educating Multiple Ages & Grades

Spreading myself over four children and keeping all of them busy at the same time without having them waiting around, or getting distracted was one thing I had hoped to deal with efficiently right from the start of the school year. At the beginning of the year I had prepared for this challenge but my plan of scheduling independent work for the older two while I provide instruction for the other two did not go as planned. Sometimes they finished their work quicker than I anticipated, sometimes they took longer than I had thought and sometimes our schedule simply changed for one or more people in our home and that change would send ripples through the schedules of the other family members.

So my second attempt or perhaps backup plan was to have a list for each of my older two children that they can work independently on while I am working with the younger two. They don't necessarily do the whole list in one shot. Sometime I simply had them their clipboard when an interruption that I have to tend to comes up. they know to work on the list until we can resume where we left off.

What I love about these lists is that I make them once for the whole year and just print of more as needed! I don't need to make them daily. I also love when my toddler needs some urgent one-on-one I can hand my older kids their clipboards, step away for a few moments without offsetting the day's progress. If you like to get creative and make your own clip boards, I've included step by step instructions on how to make your own unique clipboards as I have (see steps and pictures below).

To Make Your Own:
1- Cut wooden board to desired size or buy ready-made ones that come in a variety of sizes at DeSerres. 2- Use a Beeswax polish or other safe wood polish (olive oil will work). I used a Lemon Lavendar Beeswax Polish by Three Beautiful Bees purchased online from Palumba. This step is optional but will help keep the wood from drying up, becoming cracked or warped. I also love the smell of this step!! Use an oil or suitable wax to cover the back of your board, being careful not to get any on the front where you want a strong bond when you glue on your paper.

3- Choose a fun print of paper and trace around the board onto that paper. Cut paper to size. 4- Modpodge the paper onto the board. Next apply a thin layer of modpodge ontop of the paper to give it a protective coat. Work quickly as it will begin to dry in no time. Allow it dry completely. Add one more layer of modgepode stroking in a perpendicular direction to the first layer of strokes.

5- Allow a day for the modgepodge to dry and harden before adding large clips to secure your child's list to the cutting board.