Thursday, January 6, 2011

Enjoying the Journey

When we began homeschooling back in September, I looked at September through November as our "getting our feet wet" phase.  We wouldn't know what we were doing.  We would figure it out as we went along.  We would evaluate and re-evaluate, assess and re-assess and make adjustments until we found the right fit.

We basically took December off (with the exception of Math, lots of reading and cursive writing).  Over the break, I tried to visualize what I wanted our homeschool to look like.  I saw us snuggled on the sofa together reading.  I saw us snuggled in bed together reading.  I saw our house looking a little more lived in and myself being okay with that.  I saw us taking the time to make connections and really dig our teeth into things.  I saw us breathing deeper and being calmer, more relaxed.  

I have always felt that the best learning is done in a relaxed environment.  So often in college, I would be exposed to something and I would want to learn more, but I had other classes to attend to, hundreds of pages to read, bibliography to write, notes to get the idea...and I never got to sink my teeth in.  That time of full course loads will come for my girls.  But right now, they are in third and fifth grade and I see my job as being the flame holder, the match lighter...and their brains being the wick.  Ok, maybe that is a dramatic analogy, but that is how I picture it.

This month is really open for us.  Our homeschool co-op is on break until January 24.  Our church choir doesn't meet this month.  Homeschool soccer doesn't begin until the 26th.  I told my mom we would take a break from sewing.  My work schedule has been reduced...we have the time.

I am not a resolution maker.  I believe that every day is a clean slate and an opportunity to live a better life than the day before.

Over the last three days, I have really evaluated myself.  

I am not a "smell the roses" type of girl.  I used to take a yoga class with an instructor who was always reminding us not to think about what we were going to do when we got out of there, just to ENJOY THE MOMENT.  That's hard for me.  Really hard.  I think of the laundry.  The errands I need to run.  The dinner I am going to cook.  Our plans for the weekend.  That I still have not made an appointment for our 6 month dental exam....

When the girls were in school, my biggest complaint was that the education system was rushing them along to prepare them for these standardized tests; they were not given time to master something; not given time to sink their teeth in and get excited about learning; teachers were not given time to be creative.  And you know what?  I am doing the same thing.  Maybe it is a sign of our times.  We all have so much on our plates, we have forgotten how to relax and enjoy the moment.  We work longer days, spend more time in traffic, etc.  Maybe it's an East Coast thing, as my West- Coast- bred rose-smelling husband likes to point out.  Put me in New York City and I am off and running with the crowds, pushing my way through, barely looking up until I get to my destination.

But I don't want to be like that.

I want to enjoy my girls' childhood.  That was one reason why we brought them home to learn.  We felt like their childhood was rushing by at light speed and we only got the negative, after 6+ hours in school when they were tired and had a lot of homework to do part of their day.  We wanted the fun part of their day.  We wanted to spend time snuggled up with books, talking about ideas, making connections....sinking our teeth in, and yes, igniting the flame :)

I have always been a list writer.  A list check-er-off-er.  This term, in an effort to be more relaxed, I came up with a list of goals:

  • P memorize multiplication tables 2-12
  • Both girls memorize prepositions
  • Each girl memorize a poem
  • More Art
  • Keeping working on math program
  • Keep working on Story of the World
  • Finish Writing Strands and start Writer's Notebooks
  • Book reviews
  • Science Kits
A nice, loose list.  Allowing time to work with one of the girls if they struggle with a concept.  Allowing time for rainy reading days.  Allowing time for field trips and playdates.  Allowing time to sink our teeth in, make those wonderful connections, light the flame.

Except... me being me...I went and broke the list down into smaller weekly goals for this week.  Just this week, I told myself, I will feel better knowing we got these things done, Then I can relax.  Ha!  If you know me, you know that ...well, that won't work.

As we went though our day, I found myself mentally checking things off, working toward checking the next thing off.  I get such satisfaction from checking things off.  If I had a dime for everything I checked off a list....  But I wasn't enjoying myself.  I wasn't enjoying my girls' childhood.  This was not how I pictured it.  Don't get me wrong, we were all enjoying being together...but we were not enjoying THE MOMENT, THE PROCESS, THE JOURNEY.

Yesterday, I ditched the list.  So liberating!  I spent more time working with P on her "How-to" paragraph because she wasn't ready to move on, as my list had said we should.  A chose to do her math for the rest of the week while I worked with P.  We did the first experiment in their science kit - they got to smell different scents and discuss how it made them feel and we wrote it all down on a chart.  Then they took an amazing smelling-bath while I read a chapter from "Story of the World" and we discussed it.  We got lost in our discussion and started imagining our own scenarios in ancient China.  Then, A and I made a face mask from the Spa Science kit.  When I looked at the was time for me to get ready for work!  

That was the way I wanted our homeschool life to be.

So, I made these signs and hung them around our classroom to remind me to Enjoy the Journey!  Moving forward, we are just going to keep moving along, working through our curriculum and the things I have planned, but I am not going to say "We will do this lesson on this day" ... I am just going to work on taking each day as it comes...