Fall is upon us and the last time I wrote for this blog was back in April. As with most Homeschooling families in the trenches I have been busy, or rather I have found myself in a season of busyness. The falling leaves and the changing weather around me are a reminder that life is not stagnant, neither the world around me that is always in motion nor my life as we move from one stage to the next.
I hear so often the cry for scheduling and rhythm and remember a time when I too believed that I had to have everything all figured out. As if figuring out our system was going to make things work indefinitely. Through system after system. After settling on a method. Beyond tinkering with and prodding at said method, and after all of the changes and growths that still keep surprising me year after year. I have discovered a truth.
We have seasons too. Not just the major seasons in our lives that we are told about like babyhood, toddlerhood, preschool and so on. I’m talking about the yearly, cyclical seasons that we go through in our homes. We have seasons of busy and seasons of calm, seasons of holiday/ merrymaking and seasons of focused studying, seasons where we focus on socialization or group events and seasons where we focus on family. For some families these seasons are long semesters and for others they are shorter four to six week periods that cycle through with the needs of the family as they come up.
This past Spring and Summer was a time of travel, both regional and abroad, we rarely spent any time at home and yet that is not sustainable throughout the year. It was full of learning experiences and family togetherness but it was a season that needed to eventually end. The end of the summer and beginning of fall has been full of doctors visits, therapy appointments, new clubs, old clubs, field trips and classes. While each individual class, club or field trip has been interesting, exciting or fun; together it has been overwhelming and we are gearing down from this season and heading into our late fall, early winter hygge. Every year we go through these seasons. Every year the classes we take are slightly different, every year the clubs we join grow with us, but the feeling of up and down, fast and slow is the same. By the end of each season we are more than ready for a change of pace.
Another aspect of seasons that I often forget, is that seasons can relate to curriculum. The before picture rarely looks like the after picture… and to prove that I posted this picture to Instagram:
Isn’t it amazing just how much can change in the course of half a year? In half a year we finally finished George Washington’s World, Norse Mythology, gotten half way through Omnivore’s Dilemma, dropped the Children’s Homer and picked up Graphic Novel versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, finished graphic novel versions of Edgar Allen Poe, Macbeth, Beowulf and King Arthur, Finished Beowulf, Robin Hood and King Arthur, along with Fellowship of the Rings, and Willa of the Wood. My son is currently reading/ working through everything left and we’ve moved onto audiobooks for Plutarch because we find the to be slightly easier to understand. Along with all of the library books he checks out every Friday and returns the following Friday.
Honestly, I didn’t realize how much he was reading until I sat down to make this post. I knew that I couldn’t walk into his room without stepping or sitting on a book, and I knew that he stays up until midnight most nights reading in his bed, but during the days he rarely reads at all. Let me say that again… During the day my son rarely reads at all. He reads for 15 minute intervals in order to get enough information for a written narration or a commonplace entry. He reads for an hour every couple of days if a book has really captured him but I never know when that will be and usually it means that he is otherwise exhausted. This child loves video games but he also knows his limits, he loves the outdoors, he loves science, he loves music and can often be found singing in a spot where the acoustics are just right regardless of what else is happening around him. He creates his own board games and imaginary worlds. His life is rich and his days filled with options. Reading is just one of those options and one he chooses to leave for just before bed. At least for now. There was a time when we refused to read at all.
Even the way we approach Morning Time has changed depending on our season of life. When we are home more and things are cozy we read from the Bible to start our day on our couch in our PJ’s while we drink tea and eat second breakfast, followed by a poem from one of our favorite poetry books and a tale from one of our fairy tale books. When we are in a busy season we start with Bible from Bible Gateway and have a cycle of podcasts that we cycle through in a specific order.
Now, I’m specific about the Bible Gateway App for our car ride Bible readings for a reason. Bible Gateway has a Dramatized option under the NIV translation that really makes the passages come alive for my children. Having different voices for each character and dramatized voices makes the emotion of the piece more relevant, especially for my children who have a hard enough time just paying attention to things.
After Bible, we move on to The Same Page by Mackenzie Koppa which is how we get our Recitation in each morning. We repeat the same core week every morning for a week and then move on to the next core week on the next Tuesday. I don’t know why we switch on Tuesdays, but is just seems to always work out that way for us. She starts the podcast with an introduction that we usually skip and we jump right into the Bible verse, followed by the Shakespeare piece, one or two poems and then a bit of information about the US Presidents. We listen via Apple Podcasts and the names and details of what is included in each episode is listed under the details for that week but she also mentions that you can get printouts via her group. I don’t do that, but you could if you wanted to. Sometimes I’ll take the Poem that we are working on for the Month (usually she keeps the same poem for a few weeks) and I’ll write it out onto our Poetry chalkboard so that the children can see it written out as they walk about our space. Three of my Four are fluent readers so that works for us but its not my go to.
Once we’ve finished with that podcast we play the Merriam-Webster Word of Day Podcast. Remember, my oldest is 12 and my youngest is a gifted 7. These are advanced words of the day and sometimes the word of the day is a word that my dad calls an SAT word. You know, the kind of word that you will see on the SAT and then never again see for the rest of your life? Well, we are a bit of a nerdy family and I want my kids to get used to hearing and using a wide range of vocabulary so we listen to this podcast, which includes a short etymology of the word itself (which I find fascinating) and then I challenge each of my kids to try and make their own sentence using the word. Remember we are in the car most of the time so it’s not like we are spelling this word. Just using it in a sentence. Sometimes the word is so obscure that its almost like a joke.
Next, we listen to a tale. Sometimes this means a creepy Historical story a la Lore, or an inspiring one from Good Night Stories from Rebel Girls Podcast, or a fairy tale from Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest, but pretty often it means a musical one about composers we are currently studying from Classics for Kids.
My kids are growing up, our major life seasons are changing too but if I don’t stop to focus on the changing seasonal movements that are happening in the here and now, then before I know it, this will be gone too. They may seem small and almost insignificant as I go through them but they add up. Choosing to say yes means a no to something else and as we move through these moments so quickly I’m reminded that I only have so many yeses to make. So our down seasons are just as important as our busy ones and vice versa the relationships we make while busy are just as important as the ones we build on while resting in the calm. Each season has its place and its purpose. Each season has its resources and its booklists. How have you grown during this past season of life? How have your children? Are you stopping to notice? Are you assessing your own growth as well as theirs?