Homeschool Retreat {Instillation #2}

A continuation of our retreat, but really a different topic than the last post.

The following are questions from Terri Woods talk from Portland’s Wild + Free Conference:

Why are we homeschooling?

What is the end goal?

What is our family called to?

Such good questions to ask, and often questions I’ve asked and answered in the past, but shouldn’t I re-evaluated every year? Things change and our priorities change, or we start to change our schooling and wander from our goals. Both are normal, and can be the right changes, but sometimes asking these questions help provide clarity with what we are doing and why.

When I ask what is important to us in our schooling there isn’t a super long list, but there are quite a few! Some of the reasons include: to help my children be amazed in the Lord and to love Him with their lives, to instil a love of learning, devour lots of books individually and together, explore the outdoors, research our interests, love our neighbor and our family well, learn responsibility, appreciate hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done, and by the end be well rounded adults that are ready to fly on their own.

These all sound like amazing things, but how do we do it? What does it look like in practice? How do we invest in all these good things and not get burnt out, not feel overwhelmed that we are failing at all of them? It helps me to remember that each little thing counts. Each step forward is a step forward and isn’t wasted.

This past year I’ve been learning to rest and to let go of the schedule and develop lasting relationships with my children. It’s been hard for me to not be married to our to do list, but it’s been so good for us as a family! We are having more fun and enjoying more good books!

Usually after rest time we have “tea time” where we read a chapter book together while having tea and a snack. It’s a very enjoyable time for us. Since Aspen has joined us our afternoons aren’t quite so quiet and organized!!! And he is generally more fussy during that time. During the last half of the year we didn’t get as much reading done, which we love and really miss.

Next year I think we are going to rearrange a bit. I think we are going to have “Family Time” at the start of our school day. We will learn a new hymn, read in the bible, reading in our books and discover something new. We will use this time to lazily listen, ask questions, discover and talk about what we heard in the Bible, something we don’t understand in our story or a new vocabulary word. Since we are fresh and ready for a new day I think it will be a good way to start a full day of learning. Easing into the day.

I have an hour and a half set aside for Family Time each morning. We probably won’t use that much time, but we won’t be rushed, if I need to put the baby down for a nap, it won’t ruin all of the time we have. If it means we need to go on a run together that morning, we will have time, if we need to play in the rain, or inspect an insect, it will give us the time to do it. And if we don’t use all the time then we will have more time for the book work and co-op homework that also needs to be completed.

Terri Woods spoke on what she called Morning Time (we are calling it Family Time) and the importance of finding a goal for your family and your homeschooling. She also makes three suggestions for Moms, that we need to do for ourselves to be healthy and good teachers for our children.

  1. Read for me: bring fresh thoughts and read a little over my head to stretch myself and learn new things.
  2. Keep a “commonplace” book where I can keep quotes or important thoughts as I read and learn. A place to ponder the things we want to consider.
  3. Move my affections towards the things we want our kids to learn. If we want to have our kids learn about art, then I too need to find interest in it and explore it for me. If I’m just cramming it into them, they won’t be interested either.

I was encouraged by these suggestions. I feel like I do most of them and do them relatively well. It was nice to hear that the things I find joy in and love to do (read and research what I want to learn) are also affecting and growing my children in a good way! Taking care of me, loves supports them!

This was another great talk that we heard and great things to ponder and consider for next year. After hearing this talk it makes me excited for our next year. I really think Family Time will be a more relaxed way to get the day started instead of each of us jumping into different subjects with a 1000 questions all at the same time.

I really hope we do more of these retreats! It has been so helpful to compare ideas and thoughts and goals. And encouraging to know I’m not doing this on my own and I’m not ruining my kids. What I do is similar to what others are doing and their kids are doing just fine!

As Moms we can be so hard on ourselves and feel like we are never doing enough for our kids. After this weekend I was encouraged that there is work to be done, but things are also going well and God is in control of the details.

I want to start every school year inspired and encouraged for a new beginning!

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