This past weekend a friend of mine scheduled a homeschool retreat for herself and four other homeschooling mamas! I was one of them! It was a WONDERFUL time for conversation, fellowship, encouragement, sharing of ideas and learning of new ideas! Part of what made it so wonderful is that we all have a similar homeschool philosophy. We want our kids to have a love of learning, read lots of amazing books, enjoy being outside and learning about nature, be self motivated, hard working and responsible.
We listened to a few talks from the Wild + Free conference in Portland earlier this year. Michelle took the time to listen to a variety of talks and choose a few that would be beneficial specifically for our group. Things that we wanted to learn about, grow in, or be encouraged in. She did a wonderful job with her selections! They were so good, and I know I’m going to want to listen to them again!
I learned so much and feel inspired and encouraged for another year of schooling! I want to remember it and not forget! And… by typing it out I can help solidify it in my memory and dig deeper into my heart and soul! For me to take the time and sit and think and digest all that we heard will help me categorize it and cement it in for some exciting changes that I hope to make in this upcoming year!
The first talk we listened to Friday night was by Sarah MacKenzie of Read Aloud Revival entitled Radiant Connection. She talks about how we need to truly connect with our kids and our husbands. “Connection is the balm for everything in life.” Just taking time to smile at our kids or our husband shows that they are important, we care, we want to be around them, they mean something to us.
We can change the atmosphere in our homes with a smile and it’s such a gift to give our children; a happy and peaceful mama. Am I good that this? No, I recently have felt guilty at how much I fuss at the kids, get frustrated at having to remind them of what they are supposed to be doing or not doing. If I would take more time to enjoy them and connect with them, in return they will want to connect with me.
How often am I really present with my kids? Do I often stop, take 2 minutes to make eye contact and hear another story about a Star Wars Lego creation? Do I take a moment to listen to the request for what type of snack is requested instead of just grumbling that I’m back in the kitchen making food again? Do I truly listen to my 4 year old tell me she is frustrated because she can’t find her very important Sunday school paper (that was left in the car)? No, I really don’t. But I really want to.
When I do stop and make eye contact, smile, and open my heart to them, then I’m telling them they are important and what they want to tell me is important. Isn’t that the way we want to be treated? I want to be heard! Isn’t that why we get frustrated in our workplaces or in politics because we feel our voice isn’t heard? Well… no wonder our children get frustrated as well.
Is my “To Do” list really that important that I can’t pause to connect with my kids? Why do I feel the need push my kids away to make sure the dishes are clean. They can wait. They will always be there. My kids will not. They grow too fast and too fast they won’t want to talk to me (I’m convincing myself this will never happen to my wonderful children!!!).
And not always my to do list, but the to do lists of school that I make for them. I sometimes feel like I’m trying to force feed them the required information that someone says is recommended for their ages. Why? They do want to learn. I should be encouraging them in their interests. Yes they need to read, but allow them to read about what interests them. Keep learning and love it! Why do I feel pressured and stressed at the list of information that “they are supposed to know by this age”? I’m going to try even harder to let go, let them learn… and I know they will!
“It’s not so much what our kids know, but how they care.” Charlotte Mason
That is so profound to me! YES! I want them to care about learning and education and also about people. That isn’t something we can make them learn. We need to provide them the occasion and opportunity and they will with our example!
If I help foster an environment that cares, then they, too, will care.
In fact, in years past, as a family we talked about what we want our family motto or vision to be. We tossed around a lot of ideas and had lists of things that were important to us as a family, but really, almost all of it can be traced back to “Love God and Love Others.” It’s creating an atmosphere that cares. God shows us the ultimate care in providing us a way out from the eternal consequence of sin, that should change how we care for others and it should be the example we strive to emulate.
Michelle also gave us a very thoughtful gift of Sarah’s most recent book “The Read- Aloud Family.” I haven’t started it yet, but can’t wait to read it… and you know there will be a book review posted about it!
So much of this I will need to tell myself over and over when I’m tempted to make my to do list or the school schedule too important and not just read a good book together, take a hike, explore a stream, investigate a museum. I’m slowly learning and growing, and I really hope it’s a blessing to my children. That God uses this for now, this year and for the years to come!
With God’ blessing may our school choices help my children to:
Love God and Love Others
to their fullest!
AND… stay tuned for additional posts about our retreat!